Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’
The Telegraph UK: Archbishop of Canterbury: “meditation [for children] is the key to living in this insane world”
LTRP Note: The following is posted for research and informational purposes and not as an endorsement.
“Schoolchildren and people with no religious background should be encouraged to try meditation as a way to help them understand Christianity, the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested.”
By John Bingam
The Telegraph UK
Dr Rowan Williams said people in the modern world were struggling with “chaotic” emotions as a result of living in an “insane” consumerist society driven by advertising and the banking system.
He called for a revival of centuries-old monastic traditions to help people become “properly human”.
His call came during an important address to the Pope and the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church from around the world at the Vatican last night.
Benedict XVI invited Dr Williams, as leader of the Anglican Communion, as well as the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, to address the Synod of Bishops in a gesture of reconciliation with other churches.
The gathering had been discussing how the Catholic Church, with its traditions, can reach out to increasingly secular societies. Dr Williams used his address to urge the Church to revive traditions of silent prayer and meditation, as practised by Benedictine monks. Click here to continue reading.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I just received the latest edition of The Baptist Standard. It has been one of the leading state papers in Southern Baptist work. Though independent in production now, it has been closely associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas through the years. The BGCT Executive Director’s article appears beneath the Standard editor’s article in each issue.
I have been increasingly concerned about the drift toward a more liberal position in the paper, but the articles on contemplative worship blew me away this week [see below]. There is nothing in Baptist tradition about contemplative worship. While churches in Virginia have certainly been pulling away from historical Baptist roots, I just wasn’t prepared for these patently false articles. The practice of contemplative worship has nothing to do with the priesthood of the believer. That is a lie.
“Contemplative worship: It’s not just a Catholic thing”
“Contemplative worship consistent with Baptist principles”
I have just recently found your site. Am trying to pass the word around. God bless.
LTRP Note: In doing a little research at the Baptist Standard website, one can see that the publication has been posting pro-contemplative articles for sometime. Here is a sampling:
July 2012: On Taize worship
February 2011: On Catholicism and Phyllis Tickle
January 2011: On Thomas Merton and Spiritual Formation
July 2010: On Yoga
February 2009: On the labyrinth
December 2008: On Thomas Merton
February 2008: On Silence, Solitude, and Lectio Divina
June 2006: On the labyrinth
June 2005: On Richard Foster and Dallas Willard
- August 13 – A Step Forward Towards Reconciliation Between Catholics and Orthodox Churches
- August 8 – Atheism on the Rise in Asian and European Nations, Poll Finds
- August 16 – Bloomberg, NYPD announce $30 million surveillance system
- August 16 – Panama statue of Virgin Mary to rise taller than Statue of Liberty
- August 16 – Spanish politicians implore Virgin Mary’s help amid economic crisis
- August 15 – Mary’s assumption into heaven fosters hope on earth, Pope teaches
- August 15 – Devotion to Mary profoundly biblical, Argentinean bishop says
- August 18 – The Happy Priest: The Importance of a Eucharistic Life
By the late Keith Green
A young Catholic believer recently asked me, “What are Protestants still protesting about anyway?” The question caught me off-guard, and at the time I had to answer, “I don’t really know . . . nothing, I guess.” Well my on-the-spot answer really bothered me, and it started gnawing away at me. What were Martin Luther, the Hugenots, the Anabaptists, the Quakers, and the multitudes of others protesting anyway when they broke away from the Church of Rome? What did they suffer untold persecutions and martyrdoms for? I had to find the answer. . .and when I found it, I knew I had no choice but to share it.
So beginning with this issue, we are publishing a series of articles dealing with the Roman Catholic Church. Never has a more frightening task been set before me than editing this series of articles.
THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT
There has never been such wide-spread acceptance of Catholicism among Protestants and evangelicals as there is today. I don’t mean that there are large numbers of main line evangelicals becoming Catholics. But today, for the first time in church history, an increasing majority of Protestants are regarding the Roman Catholic Church as simply another valid christian denomination. Meanwhile, gleeful shouts of “unity” are being heralded world-wide in ecumenical gatherings, festivals and conventions. (This is especially true among charismatics.)
I believe there has never been such a crucial need to ask these possibly disturbing questions: “Are the heresies of Romanism that brought about the Reformation still alive in the modern Roman Church, or are these doctrinal discrepancies now settled?” Or worse yet, ”Should the scriptural issues that brought about the spilling of oceans of martyrs’ blood now be considered unimportant’?
In pursuing this subject, I want to make it completely understood that neither I nor anyone else at Last Days Ministries have anything at all personally against Catholics. we know of many loving, committed and sincere believers among their ranks. In fact, there are quite a few who receive our newsletter, even a priest in New England who corresponds with me regularly (and if you’re reading this now I love you!). No, it isn’t Catholics themselves that we will be taking an in-depth look at, scrutinizing in the light of Scripture, but the Roman Church as a whole her history, doctrines, theology, and traditions.
It’s not that all the many so-called “Protestant” denominations have such perfect doctrines or spotless histories there are crazy theologies galore, a few even bordering on heresy. But nowhere has such departure from scriptural truth been so tolerated, accepted, and made into tradition and pillars of church doctrine as in the Roman Catholic Church.
I can already hear the cries of “division!” And l am grieved to the heart that many will see this effort as such. But I am convinced in my spirit that we have nothing at all to fear from the truth, for Jesus has promised that it will set us free! (John 8:32). We are not attacking, but examining. We are not angry but deeply concerned. We are not on the ”war-path”, but on the path of the search for what is right. And we are not out to divide anything but to ”divide accurately the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). To read the rest of The Catholic Chronicles by the late Keith Green, click here.
A comment about The Catholic Chronicles from a LT reader:
Just a quick comment on your article “The Catholic Chronicles by Keith Green.” My understanding is that the Baptists were never part of the RC church. Also, they are not to be considered Protestants. Their history goes back to the Montanists during the 3rd century and before. Thanks, D.K.
Below: Taken from the powerful film, The Radicals, based on the true story of Michael and Margaretha Sattler, who defected from the Catholic church and who were martyred for their faith in Christ.
“Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” – Christian Organizations, Seminaries, and Ministry Leaders Incorporate This Mystical Primer into Christian Education
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is a primer on contemplative mysticism, bursting with contemplative meditation instruction along with references and quotes by some of the movement’s most prolific mystics on the scene today. It’s a book one might expect to find on the shelves of a Catholic monastery, a New Age bookstore, or in an emerging church coffee house; while it probably is in those types of places, the book has become a common textbook in many spiritual formation classes and has found a growing audience with evangelical pastors, seminary professors, and Christian ministry leaders. In fact, many of those in ministry are eagerly flocking to this book, and in so doing pointing potentially millions of Christians to the book’s message. While we have made mention of this book in several articles over the past decade, we feel it is time to present a more focused critique of Calhoun’s book and her message.
Who is promoting Calhoun’s handbook? First of all, a major advocate of the book for a number of years is Rick Warren. You can find the book on his resource website, where Saddleback gives a hearty recommendation for the book. Willow Creek also recommends the book in their Establishing Life Giving Rhythms class. In a course at Reformed Theological Seminary, the book is being used as “required reading.” (2013 Update: *A professor contacted us from Reformed Theological Seminary to say that Calhoun’s book was “optional required” reading, not “mandated required” reading. Also he told us that the book is no longer being used in that course.) In Olivet Nazarene University’s Spiritual Formation and Personal Development course, the book is listed in the “Suggested Reading” section. In Biola’s online course, Introduction to Spiritual Formation, the book is “Recommended Reading.” Assemblies of God Theological Seminary’s course, Renewing the Spiritual Leader includes Calhoun’s book in a list for required reading. Moody Bible Institute’s Midday Connection radio program had Calhoun as a guest speaker in November 2011, and Midday Connection host Anita Lustrea talks about Calhoun in her own book, What Women Tell Me. Lustrea, tells how she met Calhoun during a course called Growing Your Soul and how Calhoun taught her some of the contemplative “spiritual disciplines” (p. 125). On the Wesleyan denomination’s website, in a Spiritual Formation course, Calhoun’s book is listed in a Bibliography on Spiritual Formation. MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) had Calhoun as one of the speakers at their 2011 MOPS International Convention. On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:
I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.
These are just a few instances of many more where evangelical Christians or organizations are turning to Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook for spiritual direction (see below this article for more who use the book). Now let us examine this book and see why it is so troubling to know it is being used in so many Christian venues.
As we stated above, Calhoun’s book is permeated with references of and quotes by some of the most prolific contemplative mystics today. But she doesn’t just quote and reference these mystics - in her book, she reveals that these teachers are her “spiritual tutors.” She states:
I would be remiss not to mention the spiritual tutors that I know only through books: Dorothy Bass, Eugene Peterson, Gerald May, M. Basil Pennington, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, Fredrick Buechner, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Jonathan Edwards [not a contemplative], Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, St. Benedict, Julian of Norwich and many more. Their ideas, voices and examples have shaped my own words and experience of the disciplines. (Acknowledgment’s page)
For those who have spent time on the Lighthouse Trails website or read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, most of these names above will be familiar to you. You will know that the late Gerald May was the co-founder of the Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation in Washington DC., and as Ray Yungen points out, May adhered to “Eastern metaphysical views,” which can be seen in many of his writings, including his book The Awakened Heart where he discusses the “cosmic presence” “pervading ourselves and all creation” (ATOD, p. 67). Yungen points out that “there can be no mistaking [May's] theological underpinnings” when May says:
It is revealed in the Hindu greetings jai bhagwan and namaste that reverence the divinity that both resides within and embraces us all. (The Awakened Heart, pp. 179-180)
Gerald May makes it very clear in that statement where he is coming from. This panentheistic, God-in-everybody view, which May embraced is the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality and is why we are so persistent in warning about this spiritual outlook that has entered the Christian church. Think about it, Adele Calhoun sees Gerald May as a spiritual tutor, and now she is presenting the beliefs of these tutors to untold numbers of Christians via her book. Let’s look at another tutor whom she turns to – Basil Pennington. In a book written by Pennington and Thomas Keating (who, by the way, Calhoun also recommends), the two Catholic monks write:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.
Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences. (Finding Grace at the Center, pp. 5-6)
Calhoun would agree with Pennington and Keating on their views of “Eastern techniques.” She talks about these kinds of practices in her book, such as in the chapter she titles “Centering Prayer” where she instructs readers to focus on a “sacred word,” or in the chapter she titles “Breath Prayer,” where she encourages “short repetitive prayer[s],” or in her chapter titled Devotional Reading, where she talks about lectio divina and picking out one word from a passage of Scripture, a word which becomes the focus for meditation, or in her chapter titled “The Labyrinth Prayer,” where one is taught how to walk through a labyrinth while doing contemplative meditation. She also tells readers to “Explore the practice of liturgical prayer through using the book The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, or The Daily Office of the Catholic church” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2861-2862). For those of you who may not know who Phyllis Tickle is, she has been the darling and a favorite mentor of emerging church leaders. It is Tickle who likened atonement-rejector Brian McLaren to another Luther, saying he could be instrumental in bringing about a “new reformation.”
One can also see how Calhoun resonates with Pennington and Keating when she favorably says that “three Cistercian monks, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington and William Meninger, sought to revive this ancient form of meditative prayer.” (Kindle Edition, Locations 2460-2461). By the way, Calhoun recommends (Kindle Edition, Location 2498) Keating’s book, Open Mind, Open Heart, another “textbook” on contemplative and centering prayer. In that book, Keating says this:
Centering prayer is a discipline designed to reduce the obstacles … choose a sacred word [to repeat] … Twenty to thirty minutes is the minimum amount of time necessary for most people to establish interior silence. (pp. 18, 21, 23 as quoted from Faith Undone, p. 81)
The repeating of a word or phrase is how contemplative prayer is practiced. This in turn begins to make the practitioner feel a oneness with God, humanity, creation, and with everything. This oneness is the whole crux of the matter. After awhile, the contemplative meditator begins to take on a different spiritual outlook. It’s what caused Thomas Merton (another mystic you will find in Calhoun’s book) to say “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (from David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969). Or what caused Henri Nouwen (another Calhoun “tutor”) to say at the end of his life after years of meditating:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.(From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition)
In addition to the tutors Adele Calhoun lists in her Acknowledgements page, she also includes other names in the book that are important to point out here: David Steindl-Rast, Marjorie Thompson (author of Soul Feast), Brian C. Taylor, Kathleen Norris (a Catholic contemplative nun), Karen Mains, Tilden Edwards, Ruth Haley Barton, and Esther De Waal. Between her “tutors” and these other names along with the practices and ideas Calhoun espouses in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, the heart of the contemplative prayer movement is clearly and no doubtedly manifested in her book.
The following quotes by some of the people in Calhoun’s book are the focal point of our concerns. These aren’t minor points we’re dealing with. The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at risk to those who are being exposed to this. The spirituality that Calhoun and her tutors embrace leads to interspirituality (i.e., all paths lead to God). “Christian mysticism” resonates with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim mysticism, which means it’s not Christian at all; but practitioners become blinded to that – this is how Henri Nouwen came to call these mystical spiritual practices “treasures for the spiritual life of the Christian.” See now for yourself if you come to the same conclusions we have when you read these quotes:
The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment. – Brian C. Taylor (Setting the Gospel Free, p. 76 -What Taylor means by this book title is getting rid of the biblical Gospel).
These [Christian] contemplatives also recognize their soul mates in other traditions, as did Thomas Merton in his pilgrimage to Buddhist Asia. This is because they have passed beyond the confines of religion as a closed system to an open awareness of God-in-life. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free
The enlightenment you seek in our religions has been present in Christianity from the beginning – from the back cover of Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now
[New Ager] Ken Wilber is really the best teacher today . . . to give us an “integral spirituality.” Pick any book of his that fascinates you, and you will know why I, as a Christian, recommend him. – Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p. 153 (Wilber’s “integral spirituality” include yoga, zen, TM, kabbalah, tantric sex, kundalini, and centering prayer.)
This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality. – Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18
The practice of contemplative prayer might give a Christian ground for constructive dialogue with a meditating Buddhist. – Marjorie Thompson, Soul Feast, Prologue
Skeptics may say, well these quotes are not in Calhoun’s book. That’s true, but anyone can see that Calhoun is encouraging her readers to turn to these mystics by calling them her tutors, quoting from them extensively, and recommending their books.
If you want to know what the end result of practicing contemplative spirituality is, the following quote by David Steindl Rast (who is in Calhoun’s book) sums it up – drop the Cross of Christ! There’s no need for it once the world religions come together under the common denominator of mystical realms:
Unfortunately, over the course of the centuries, this [Christianity] has come to be presented in almost legal language, as if it were some sort of transaction, a deal with God; there was this gap between us and God, somebody had to make up for it—all that business. We can drop that. The legal metaphor seems to have helped other generations. Fine. Anything that helps is fine. But once it gets in the way, as it does today, we should drop it. – David Steindl-Rast, talking to a Buddhist (Robert Aitken & Steindl Rast, The Ground We Share, p. 45, emphasis added)
We must choose one, dear Christian – contemplative spirituality or the Cross of Jesus Christ - we cannot have them both.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Other Instances Where Spiritual Disciplines Handbook is Being Used:
Anaheim Vineyard – Pastoral Staff Recommends list
Eastern Mennonite University – “Highly recommended” list
Northpark Theological University - “Highly recommended” list
Nazarene Theological Seminary – Bibliography used
Trevecca Nazarene University – Formational Resources
Dear Friends in the Lord Jesus Christ:
I have only recently subscribed to your newsletter. A breath of fresh air!
Although raised Roman Catholic, I was saved by the grace of God at age 15, that was almost 40 years ago.
I have been living in Europe for the last 25 years. Here we are geographically closer to Rome and still remember the persecutions of recent and not so recent eras. Conservative Christians (the few there are in postmodern Europe) still see and recognize the dangers of Catholicism, which shows its true face more “honestly” on this side of the pond.
I will just tell you about one anecdote … I happened to be in Lisbon in May 2010 for a professional conference. My daughter and I arrived the day the pope was visiting but my event was not to start until around 7 pm. We had plenty of time and were curious about all the crowds, we got the metro and walked toward the harbor where a large square had been set up for the mass. Of course, there were several on the platform singing soft contemporary-style Christian music and streams of people, young and old, pouring out of the metro and moving toward the square … We saw thousands and thousands of people; lots of banners, t-shirts and sun visors, all with a picture of the pope or similar image. In all the banners, we only saw the word “God” 3 times and the word “Jesus” only 1 time! I think I didn’t see a single Bible verse. I wondered how a mere man could accept such adulation; how could the people be blinded to the fact that they were giving glory to a mere man? There were outdoor advertising banners all over the city… “”My father taught me to love”
“My father taught me to believe” “My father taught me to hope” and more of the same, obviously all referring to the pope, as far as I could tell. I was astonished again that a mere man could be accepting glory for this. I look at this and can’t believe that anything like “Bible-believing Christians” could fall for the deception that Catholics believe the same as the Bible teaches.
LTRP Note: Two weeks ago, we presented Part 1 of this story.
By Roger Oakland
(author of Let There Be Light, director of Understand the Times)
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
On July 17, 2009, I almost died while at the farm in Eston. Though the circumstances surrounding this incident have not been made public in the past, I believe it is important for me to share what happened. The incident and the weeks and months following changed the course of my life and the ministry at Understand The Times.
This part of my story actually begins in January 2007 while on a flight heading to the Philippine Islands. While the long flight itself from Southern California was just another journey and part of my “1 K” annual flight itinerary, the following day I noticed my body was not the same. I broke out in a “rash” or better described as “hives” from head to toe. I also came down with what seemed a terrible viral illness. From my hotel room, I dialed a friend on my cell phone, “I am very sick,” I said weakly. “I feel so bad, I don’t even know if I will make it out of here alive.”
However, in spite of the way I grew increasingly ill each day, I continued on with my speaking schedule in Manila and Bageo that lasted about ten days. When I arrived back in the USA, Myrna took one look at me and said, “I think you have scabies.” I wasn’t even sure what that was. But when I saw a doctor, he treated me for hives with steroids, and the hives went away. Within a few days of arriving home, we were scheduled for a long anticipated family holiday in Hawaii with my daughter and her family. We had a wonderful time, but on the flight home, I broke out again.
We actually had a second trip planned for shortly after we arrived home from our family trip. While it would seem to have been better to stay home and rest, Myrna and I left for Israel. We no sooner arrived there when I had another major attack. My face became so distorted that I looked like a monster. My skin erupted with scores of itching volcanoes that would not go away no matter what I did.
Once back home in California, a doctor referred me to an allergy specialist. By now, I had been taking steroids for over three weeks. It seemed this was the only way I could sleep. My condition was diagnosed as chronic idiopathic urticaria. The disease name may sound intimidating, but the side effects of the malady are far worse than the name. Chronic essentially means serious and long lasting; idiopathic means the medical profession does not know what you have, when you got it, how you got it, and how to get rid of it; urticaria means a problem related to the skin, which in my case was hives.
Week after week, month after month, the hives kept coming back, and I never knew when they were going to hit. Often they came right in the middle of a conference or other ministry trips. I continued making visits to the doctor who was treating me. After two years of extensive steroid use, weaning down and then off, I started to notice a difference in the way I was dealing with problems. I told my doctor I felt I was breaking down. . . .
[T]here was another factor. I was not only subjected to stress related to travel but also from human opposition to the positions I was taking as I stood for biblical truth. As well, I was now facing a lot of backlash from writing the book Faith Undone. While some Calvary Chapel pastors liked the book, many did not. The book had certainly hit a nerve. It named names, and some of those were names that certain prominent Calvary Chapel pastors were fond of. There were those who wanted me to come to their churches and speak on the topic; and there were those obsessed with trying to harm and even shut down the ministry of Understand The Times through spreading false rumors. Ironically, the book was selling quite well through the publisher to many outside the Calvary Chapel movement. Others could discern what was happening in the church, but many in my own fellowship could not.
It wasn’t just Faith Undone that brought about such opposition but also Another Jesus: the Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization, which was re-released in 2007 by the same publisher as Faith Undone. The books were like water between the rocks when it freezes. It breaks the rocks and shatters them.
The biblical position I wrote about in Another Jesus that reveals how Pope John Paul II had implemented an evangelistic program to win the world to the Roman Catholic Jesus was the first book written on the topic. The facts supporting this agenda are overwhelming. The thesis is not based on speculation but on solid documentation and biblical evidence. Further, the scenario is clearly laid out in Scripture by Jesus as one of the end-time signs that indicate His soon return.
Firmly convinced that the Lord had revealed these important things through His Word, I felt I must boldly confront this deceptive plan that fit into Bible prophecy. Three years prior to Faith Undone being released, Hollywood announced the release of Mel Gibson’s The Passion film (discussed in the previous chapter). It did not take me long to see that Gibson was part of the New Evangelization program and that the film was going to be used as propaganda to bring back the “separated brethren” to the Mother of All Churches. Later, I even documented where Gibson admitted that his goal for the film was evangelistic . . . for the Catholic Church.1
In an attempt to warn pastors and others on our UTT mailing list, we began to publish a number of articles explaining what was going on. These articles were met with mixed reviews—a high percentage of the negative response came from several Calvary Chapel pastors. “Pastor Chuck has endorsed the film. What give you the right to think you can challenge something that has been endorsed by Chuck,” a number said.
Even though the opposition against me over the books continued, Paul Smith was able to give away about a thousand copies of Another Jesus at the 2005 Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conference alluded to in [Let There Be Light]. It was a rather historic time. While my book was handed out the first day of the conference to the pastors warning about the coming Eucharistic Christ, two days later Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Corson performed the communion for Chuck Smith and suggested to the pastors that it was time for Catholics and Protestants to lay down their differences.
Corson even made reference during communion to the idea that the bread or wafer is more than just a remembrance. When he did that, over fifty pastors, many of them former Roman Catholics got up and walked out. Paul Smith, at that time the head of Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, walked with them. While the tape of that meeting is no longer available from Calvary Chapel, one eyewitness said, “The pastors who walked out were standing on the sidewalk outside with some pointing at the building and crying out, ‘Heresy!’”
From June 2005 to July 2009, my life was like a rocky road covered with ice. Another Jesus was the first bridge over troubled waters. I had never estimated how difficult it would be to tell the truth to a church fellowship that I had been part of for over two decades. In August 2007, Faith Undone came off the press . . . all hell broke loose when the book hit the market.
However, while the release of the book caused a great disturbance, it also brought about many opportunities to speak. Perhaps there were too many opportunities and too many invitations. Being on a steady diet of steroids in an attempt to control what had now been diagnosed as an autoimmune disease, caused me to feel hyped up. This fed my feeling of urgency that it was imperative to fulfill all invitations. When I should have been resting, I was traveling. When I should have been healing, I was fighting on the front lines. In a twelve-month period, I visited and lectured in ten different countries as a speaker. My body was breaking down, and I knew it. My allergist doctor told me that time off and some physical labor on the farm in Saskatchewan would do wonders.
Around the middle of April 2009, I flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma and participated in a Bible conference with Dave Hunt and some other men who often spoke together. It did not require a medical professional to know there was something seriously wrong with me. Not only did my facial features show that I was very ill, so did my speeches. I was only going through the motions; while some may not have not seen it, others were probably wondering what was going on.
A few weeks later, I left for my annual long drive up to the farm to help my son Wade and his wife Lisa put in their crop. Before seeding, I had committed myself to speak at two conferences—one in Calgary and another in Saskatoon one week later. I barely remember those two conferences. What I do remember is that I was not who and what I once was.
When the conferences finally ended, I headed to Eston to help Wade and Lisa who had already started seeding. My life was deteriorating quickly. Myrna was not with me. She was back in California doing her full-time job as an industrial nurse. Without her working, there was no ministry. But our family was a farm family, and hard work was no stranger to any of us.
“You need to see a doctor here in Saskatchewan,” Wade prodded me daily.
“I can’t do that now, Wade. Not without Canadian health insurance. It’ll have to wait,” I protested whenever he brought up the subject.
For four weeks, I slept very little. The hives caused me to itch constantly. The only thing that would give me rest was when I took the steroids, and even they seemed to be losing their effect. I was in a trap and could not get out. I was beginning to feel like Job—I had already lost my son, I was losing many long-time friends and ministry support, and I had itching hives all over tormenting my body.
The weeks passed. I refused to go back to California because I was certain that Wade and Lisa could not manage seeding time without me. When I wasn’t working, I isolated myself, not wanting to see anyone. I pulled the curtains so that my house would be dark. I sat in a chair and watched television programs and the odd Blue Jays ball game.
In the middle of all this, a series of unfortunate events happened. First, our webmaster and good friend, Ron Pierotti, who is an integral part of Understand The Times, was diagnosed with a reoccurring brain tumor and told he may only have a month to live. Next, my long time friend Paul Smith called one day and told me he had just been fired from CCOF (Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowships) at an impromptu meeting that afternoon. He sounded shocked and upset, saying that his own brother, Chuck, sat by and let it happen while one board member made the motion and another seconded it. This news about Paul came at a time when I was already deeply discouraged. Paul was being used by God to warn his brother about the wave of apostasy sweeping through the Calvary Chapel movement, and now he was being eliminated.
Everything solid in my life was crumbling.
And then, as if enough hadn’t happened to completely dishearten me, I received a call from Rob Yardley, a member of UTT’s board at the time and also a member of CCCM’s board. Rob told me that he had met with the Missions pastor at Calvary Costa Mesa, and it was decided that because CCCM was losing tens of thousands of dollars every month due to the bad economy, they were looking for ways to cut their budget. The money that CCCM was paying each month in support of the Myanmar orphans was one of the cuts. The children in Myanmar were going to lose the five hundred dollars a month the church was providing.
After hearing that, and while I didn’t think I could get much lower, I received two e-mails. One came from Sarah Yardley, Rob’s daughter and the overseer for Calvary Distribution. She said that Calvary would no longer be carrying Lighthouse Trails books* because of an article they wrote about Calvary Chapel and their firing of Paul Smith.2
For several days after all this, I drove a tractor helping Wade and Lisa pack or “roll” the legume crops to make the land level, preparing for harvest when the header of the combine needs to shave the ground. I drove the tractor day after day like a robot: I was there in body doing all the right things, but my mind was somewhere else. All I could think about was the death of a vision. Perhaps this is the end for me, I thought. Maybe God took me from the farm to Los Angeles and to the world for a season. Maybe it’s all over.
I tried calling and talking with the men on the Board of UTT in both Canada and the USA. They were either unavailable, not interested, or they told me they never had the vision God had given me in the first place. Doubts began to plague me. Maybe I have never had a vision, I began to reason. Maybe this whole thing is the figment of my imagination. I could not get my mind to stop racing with these thoughts of defeat.
On July 16th, Wade and Lisa left the farm early that morning with my seven-month-old granddaughter Elizabeth to go to Clearwater Lake for a few days. I was alone. I decided to be useful by cutting the grass in my yard, which was located about a quarter mile from our original home where Wade and his family now lived.
The events of the rest of the day and the next several days are merely a shadow in my memory. There are many details I do not recall. But what I do remember is this—I was very, very tired because I had not slept for days. I was also very depressed. Upon returning from cutting grass, I opened the shed door and drove in with our small John Deere garden tractor equipped with a mower attachment. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor of the shed, my fingers tapping the floor. Then more blackout.
After that, the next thing I remember was Saturday morning the 19th of July 2009. I was curled up in my favorite chair in our living room; I had no idea how I got from the shed floor to my chair. But later, piecing things together, I must have fallen from the tractor, been knocked unconscious, came to, and crawled inside to the living room and into the chair. Now here it was Saturday morning, three days after my fall. Wade had returned from his trip. He was talking to me but getting nowhere. “Dad, I’m going to call Mom,” he finally told me walking toward the phone. Myrna was still in southern California.
“You better get him right over to the doctor in town,” she told Wade with concern in her voice. As soon as Wade hung up, he called the local doctor. The nurse told Wade to bring me in for a check right away.
I had known this doctor for most of my life. His father was also a doctor who had treated my grandmother. When he asked me how I got in the condition I was in, I told him I had chronic idiopathic urticaria and that I had been taking steroids. He then instructed Wade to go to my place and bring him all the medications I was taking.
From Eston, I was transported to Saskatoon to the University Hospital, but upon arrival, we discovered there was no room there, so I was shuttled to City Hospital. The next morning, doctors determined that I had a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and thus was transported to St. Paul’s Hospital for surgery. All of this happened within twenty-four hours.
Before the surgery took place, my vision became extremely blurred, almost to the point of blindness. After the surgery, this condition continued. The rest of my hospital experience in Saskatoon, Canada may become the subject for a book in the future regarding the pros and cons of socialized health insurance. For now, let me say, I was in the hospital for two weeks before they found out I had a hemorrhage in my brain, and this was the reason I could not see.
Before this diagnosis, at least one doctor treating me suggested that perhaps I was just depressed. But it would take a pretty heavy dose of depression to actually cause someone to lose his eyesight.
As soon as Myrna heard the diagnosis of the brain bleed, she left her job immediately in California, taking an emergency leave of absence, and came to Canada. When she learned that the hospital could not do an MRI for at least a month, she had me discharged, packed me in a car, and headed for California. She was afraid to fly and was advised against it in light of the brain injury. Because of Myrna’s quick response and insistence that I receive proper care right away, my life was saved.
Over the next several months, many things took place for me to get on the road to recovery. When we first got back, a doctor, who was a new ministry friend of ours, advocated for me and got me in to see one of the best brain specialists in southern California. Looking back, this was another step in God’s intervention of what Satan had meant for my destruction.
For one year, I was forced to take a sabbatical. I rarely saw anyone except for the odd occasion when Rob Yardley would show up. The rumors were spreading that I was either dead or that I would never be back in ministry again. While I’m sure there were those pleased with such news, God had other plans.
One afternoon, several months after my fall, and when I was beginning to get out a bit, I went into a Calvary Chapel bookstore and asked the clerk, out of curiosity, if she carried the book, Faith Undone.
“Yes, we do have a copy of that book.”
“Oh great,” I answered. “What do you know about the author, anyway?” I was curious what the word on the “street” was.
“Well, I think he died recently. That’s what I heard.” My eyebrows rose with interest.
“Oh, I don’t think that is true,” I told her. “In fact, I’m certain of it.”
“Really?” the young clerk asked, looking puzzled.
“Yes, you see I am the author.”
I have to admit I was amused at the stunned look on the girl’s face. As I walked out of the store, a purchased copy of Faith Undone under my arm, I smiled to myself and to the Lord. “I’m still here Lord. You protected me and must have kept me alive for a reason.”
What took place in my life those difficult few years has some similarities to the “Joseph” in the book of Genesis. His brothers, who should have been his friends, were instrumental in his near demise. But God took the thing that Satan had meant for evil and brought good out of it for Joseph and his family. Evil plots against those who belong to the Lord do not hinder God who is in charge of all things. He turns human manipulation around and in Joseph’s case made Joseph victorious.
The Bible tells us that our redemption draws near and that we are to look up in anticipation for that blessed hope of His appearing. None of us know the hour, but God’s Word tells us if we are watching the signs and the seasons, we can be aware of the times. I believe Jesus is coming soon, and Satan wants to keep the darkness protected. However, God’s Word is light. God hates darkness and will always expose it, even if those protecting the darkness are well-known and respected spiritual leaders.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. (Micah 7:8)
(Taken from the 21st chapter of Let There Be Light, 2011, Lighthouse Trails, by Roger Oakland – links added by Lighthouse Trails editors for this online version.)
*LTPC note: While Calvary Distribution did drop all Lighthouse Trails books, some Calvary Chapel church bookstores still carry our books but must purchase them from other outlets.