Posts Tagged ‘churches’
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
When I first became a Christian, I was 21 years old, but unfortunately the other believers around me became a part of the “Shepherding Movement.” Thankfully, I listened to that “still small voice” and the wife of a family who had defected, helped to bring me out of it! (She simply asked me where my joy was by trying to live back under all the laws, which Jesus released us from, which in turn, the Shepherding Movement was trying to revert us back to . . . I had no joy.) As the years rolled by, I realized I had a gift of discernment. Fast forward 30 years: I am now 57, and I am appalled by the emerging church, contemplative prayer, etc. I have stood against these, and by speaking the truth lost so many church/personal relationships because of it.
It is becoming very difficult to find a Bible-based church that doesn’t compromise and will preach the “whole” word of God. This is my biggest concern however . . . my husband and I recently left a United Methodist Church for this reason: We loved the concept that the doors were open to all people, in all walks of life. This included a homosexual couple. My problem soon began to be realized – that those issues would never be addressed truthfully.
Our pastor just didn’t want to acknowledge, and certainly not preach on, ANY Scripture in the New Testament that plainly speaks of the consequences of those, or any other types of those behaviors/sins. It seems that all churches we attend are just politically correct like this. Many of the things that your articles speak about which are blatantly attacking the church are more obvious. At least to me. Unfortunately, I believe this “political correctness” is what is really going to be the churches undoing. It is so insidious and frighting. I don’t know whether God wants me to stay in churches like these and keep fighting and exposing His truth or leave because eventually it becomes too hurtful and unbearable. ANY suggestions would be welcomed!! Thank you for all the hard work you do.
Our Comment: This reader has asked us if we could provide them with any comments our readers have regarding this letter. For those who are reading this on Facebook, please feel free to comment and offer suggestions or insights. Many, many people who contact Lighthouse Trails, either through e-mail, phone, or letter, share similar concerns, in particular when it comes to finding a solid Bible-based church.
Related Helpful Articles:
6 Questions Every Gay Person Should Ask by Michael Carter
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Many years ago when I was teaching an adult Sunday School class, I was so impressed with the importance of a certain book, I had the whole class order that book by Ray Yungen. It was called A Time of Departing.
It was all about how a new movement was entering the church. It went by a variety of names: spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, contemplative spirituality. It included topics like centering prayer, meditation, lectio divina, and visualization. It is a linking of Catholic and Eastern religions and has nothing biblical in it. Both my adult children and their spouses were in the Sunday School class.
Five years passed, and we got a new pastor who began to talk of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila among others (they are Catholic saints, and the Catholic link to all this is immense). Because we had read Ray Yungen’s book five years earlier, we were aware of the error that was being preached. All of our family were very active in the church – some had been there for over 20 years and held positions of authority – but we had been warned so we took our families, after having warned many others, and left.
Because of housing, our families went to two different Assembly of God churches. One day I saw sign-up sheets on tables in the foyer of one of the churches. One was for Spiritual Formation classes. I hoped it wasn’t what I feared it was. Things had seemed calm for approximately five years.
On Sunday Oct. 9 of this year (2016), the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave a sermon and told of his visits to Catholic monasteries. He then asked everyone to close their eyes, take deep breaths, picture Jesus, look at His face (during this time gentle music began to play), think of a time during the week that made you sad and invite Jesus into your thoughts. This is visualization. It is called an Ignatian exercise after Catholic founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola. It is everything that Ray Yungen described in his book, and the pastor stood there and led all those thousands of people in an exercise totally unbiblical. He then suggested they do this 2-3 times a day whenever they encounter difficult or sad situations.He says he does this every day himself. My granddaughter – who was 13 at the time we left the former church and is 20 now – knew what she was listening to. She had heard us speak of Ray’s book often. She had been educated just as the Lord would have her to be.
How strange that this book has followed us. Yesterday, I was preparing for my Thursday night meeting with the woman I’m discipling. We are studying the 23rd Psalm. The author of the book suggested we read Gal 5. What I found there made me think of what happened at these two churches: Gal 5:9: “A little leaven [or a few false teachers] leavens the whole lump [or misleads the whole church].”
On Sunday Oct. 16, a week after the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave his sermon – the author of the book that tried to warn everyone about this danger, Ray Yungen, died of a complication of a leukemia treatment at the age of 64. There are many of us who mourn his passing and highly respect his life. He has helped keep us from darkness and walking in the light. May God be pleased and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
His concern at the end of his life was not only for his generation and the darkness that had infected us but ensuring that it not touch the next. That was the kind of man Ray was—always longing to expose the darkness. My granddaughter shows that his legacy continues.
LTRP Note: This was actually a review of Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing on our store site, but because this scenario is playing out in churches throughout North America, we are posting it as a letter.
To Lighthouse Trails:
A few years ago a friend at my church came up to me looking quite disturbed and said, “Can you believe our church is teaching contemplative prayer?”
I just looked at her in shock and asked, “What’s wrong with contemplating and praying?”
She said, “No, no, no! You don’t get it – it’s not that – it’s CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER!!”
I asked again, incredulously this time, what’s wrong with contemplating and praying. “I don’t have a problem with that – at all.”
She said, “You don’t get it – but I’ll bring you a book next week that will explain it.” And she brought Ray Yungen’s, A Time of Departing.
It helps to have an open mind. If a Christian brother or sister tells you they have something they want you to consider – at least be willing to consider it. I started the book with an open mind and was quickly engrossed by it. It very methodically and logically lays out the case against contemplative prayer/spirituality/meditation. By the end of the book, I realized what our church was doing was really dangerous and completely unbiblical. It’s a prominent well-known mega church in New York City where I had heard the pastor speak out against eastern/mystical meditation from the pulpit so I naively thought he must not be aware that the church was promoting it in several of its weekend classes.
After reading Yungen’s book and doing a little further study, I had the information I needed to go to the leadership of the church to warn them what they were getting into. I say naively, because as it turns out, they knew exactly what they were doing, and they had every intention of continuing it. They knew it was unbiblical, but they didn’t care. And that’s all I needed to know to make my decision whether to stay or leave the church. I decided to depart. It truly was a time of departing for me!
I will be forever grateful to Ray Yungen and this book for being the instrument God used to open my eyes to this new/old teaching that is consuming churches everywhere. Every Christian in America needs to know about this – even if you’re in a good church. Even good pastors can be fooled by it because it’s so subtly deceptive. And it’s absolutely pervasive. It is everywhere.
So arm yourself with knowledge, and A Time of Departing is a great place to start!
There is talk about the great outpouring of unity and ecumenism that will be initiated by the present Pope. Will the hierarchical leaders of the Calvary Chapel movement stand up against this or not?—Roger Oakland
There is a lot of talk these days in Christian circles about the great outpouring of the “Holy Spirit” that is just around the corner. This “outpouring” will supposedly bring “another Jesus Movement”.  While this would be a wonderful thing if the “spirit” was the Holy Spirit, there is reason to believe we are living at a time when “another spirit”  may be the spirit that is in the forefront.
Not long ago, I came across a page on the Internet posting an interview done at the 2016 Calvary Chapel annual pastor’s conference held in Costa Mesa, California. The person doing the interview was Josh Turansky. The two being interviewed were Raul Ries of CC Diamond Bar and his son Ryan Ries of the Whoesoevers, a heavy rock band that promotes satanic symbolism as a means of attracting the youth to biblical Christianity. 
Ryan is apparently a convert out of drugs and a Satanic worship background and proclaims to be a fully devoted born-again Christian who loves Jesus as his Savior and Lord.  He is promoted by both Brian Brodersen and his dad Raul as an evangelist and has been given a platform at CCCM and Calvary Diamond Bar. He is endorsed by Brian and Raul as an evangelist who is called to reach this present generation with the gospel. Click here to continue.
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International
Since the turn of the millennium, the world has witnessed a virtual meltdown of biblical Christianity. While many are saying Christianity is experiencing a great revival and even a “new reformation,” this commentary will document the demise of Christianity by showing we are experiencing the greatest apostasy in modern-day history.
In one word, Christianity is being redefined. Scores of pastors have chosen to abandon the Bible in favor of postmodernism (that is, what they view as progressive and culturally relevant). There is no other way to describe what has happened. Those who love God and believe the Bible is His Word cannot believe what has happened. Light has turned into darkness. What was once believed to be true is now proclaimed to be a lie. Those who once claimed to be followers of Jesus and the Bible are now following men and their philosophies.
Rather than reaching out to the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, pastors and Bible teachers are abandoning the Bible in order to embrace the world. They look for ways to market what they call Christianity by incorporating sensual gimmicks that are supposed to attract the masses. Hymn books are tossed out of churches from the pews. Pews have been replaced by soft theater seats with credit card terminals. Being comfortable while attending church is the standard. Don’t mention sin or that Jesus shed His blood on the Cross because that would be offensive.
Then we could ask: What happened to the God of the Bible who created all things according to the book of Genesis. When did creation become a religious Babylonian myth and the theory of evolution become the science that proves that an explosion plus time and chance is the formula for the origin of all life?
Or what about the infiltration of the New Age movement into evangelical churches? Have we been Hinduized and now think that Yoga is a Christian exercise? Or what about getting closer to Jesus by humming mantras, “getting centered,” or practicing eastern mystical contemplative prayers that will send you off to Nirvana? Have Christians lost their minds and been seduced by demons?
How about the invasion of extra-biblical experiences? For example, what about getting drunk in the “Spirit” or barking like a dog because of the “transferrable anointing”? Where is that kind of behavior found in Scriptures? Are Christians being prepared for a great revival, or are they being seduced by another spirit? Click here to continue reading.
NEW BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire
NEW BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire by Chris Lawson is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is a portion of the content of the booklet. The full booklet has 101 questions. To order copies of How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire, click here.
By Chris Lawson
Do you know a loved one, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is in a cult or an abusive church or group? Or perhaps you yourself are in such a situation. The Spiritual-Abuse Questionnaire in this booklet will help shed light on this issue.
Spiritual abuse occurs when a leader, a church, or a belief system, whether well intentioned or not, dominates, manipulates, or castigates individuals and even entire families through fear tactics, mind control, or some other psychological or emotional abuse.
Sadly, the mask of spiritual abuse deception can be worn by anyone. The following two Scriptures are reflective of what happens when the position of authority is abused within a spiritual/church setting (e.g., self-exaltation, heavy-handed leadership, etc).
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means [by their own authority]; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:31)
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. (3 John 9-10)
It is my hope that this booklet will help people who have been through or are experiencing things similar (or worse) to what my family and I personally experienced years ago.
If you have been spiritually abused, take heart; the true Jesus desires to help and heal you as He has helped countless others.
Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire
This questionnaire is designed to help the reader think through a number of areas he or she may have never seriously considered before. As you read each question, circle either YES or NO. When you reach the end, go back through the list and prayerfully consider the questions you have answered YES to.
Answering YES to any of the following questions may be an indication of an unhealthy problem in your group or with your leaders. Answering YES to more than just a few questions is a definite cause for concern.
If this is the case, it is recommended that you take a much closer look into your group or organization’s history, purpose, and goals. Observe closely the methods, activities, and lives of the leaders. Are they using abusive and manipulative tactics on people?
The basic Yes or No questions of this questionnaire enable the reader to think critically on his or her own—something generally not allowed in abusive systems.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note also that while this booklet can be a useful tool in helping to bring clarity to difficulties in a church or ministry, the questions offered here should also be tempered with careful thought and godly counsel. Answering yes to just a few questions does not automatically mean you are in a cult or abusive situation. One thing for certain is that every church or group is composed of fallible people who are not always as loving as they should be. Nor should we expect to be in a place where there is no authority over us. Be reflective, therefore, to your answers to the following questions with the goal of being fair to both your church or group and to yourself.
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CHURCH OR GROUP’S LEADERS
- Are you in any way fearful of your leader(s)? YES / NO
- Does your church or group revolve around one main charismatic personality who is the final arbiter of “truth”? YES / NO
- Do your leaders make claims of being “Anointed,” having “Elijah’s Mantle,” having “Apostolic Authority,” etc.? YES / NO
- Does the main leader or the leaders in your church or group always insist that they are right? YES / NO
- Does your group, church, or movement employ a corrupted modern-day version of the Moses/Aaron style of leadership where the pastor/leaders allegedly—by themselves—hear directly from God, like Moses? (This form of leadership is unlike the balanced plurality of elders found in the New Testament.) YES / NO
- Does the pastor/leader of your group, church, or movement surround himself with “people-pleasers” rather than with qualified men whose personal and public lives maintain the biblical leadership characteristics as found in I, II Timothy and Titus? YES / NO
- Is you group, church, or movement set up like a pyramid, with a hierarchy—with one single man at the top? YES / NO
- Are you discouraged or prohibited from freely asking questions about the background of your leader(s) and your group? YES / NO
- If so, are you looked down upon and considered to be divisive? YES / NO
- Would you be rebuked or chastised/punished by your leader(s) if you researched the background and history of the group and its leader(s)? For instance, would doing a background check on your leader be considered “disloyal” or “sinful”? YES / NO
- Are you discouraged or prohibited from freely discussing teachings, “prophecies,” or so-called new revelations that your group leader(s) has/have stated in the past or present? YES / NO
- Are you allowed to ask your leader(s) questions regarding their background in ministry, education, teaching, policies, etc.? If not, why? YES / NO
- Do you view those who are assisting your group or church pastor/leader as ones who simply “do what they are told” rather than people who can rationally think for themselves and if need be would not be afraid to confront the main leader(s) if questionable practices/teachings arise? YES / NO
- Are the leaders of your group, church, or organization above reproach (without blame) in morals, ethics, teaching, and the handling of your groups finances? How do you know? YES / NO
- Do any of your leaders have a criminal record? YES / NO
- Would your leader(s) allow you to freely ask questions or research their background in order to find out if they have a criminal record? If not, why? YES / NO
- Has anyone in your group ever tried to persuade you to NOT research the personal background of the leaders? YES / NO
- When issues are brought up about abusive situations, do your leaders say, “You just need to have more faith!” or, “You are being disloyal to leadership!”? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP AND ITS TEACHINGS
- Do you feel your group twists or takes Scripture out of its historical context and consistently or often misapplies Bible verses? YES / NO
- Does your group or church “allegorize” and “spiritualize” Scripture instead of utilizing a literal, grammatical, historical approach to interpreting documents, like you would in any legitimate Bible college or court of law? YES / NO
- Are you told what you will believe; and is questioning authority and doing further research on your own, aside from the group, discouraged or frowned upon? YES / NO
- Are you guided through the Bible by your leaders but at the same time not allowed to study the Scriptures on your own, apart from the group or organization’s own published materials? YES / NO
- Do your leaders claim to receive “new revelations,” a special “anointing,” and so-called “words” or messages from God? YES / NO
- Do your leaders withhold or avoid providing you and your group with a written “Statement of Beliefs” or “Statement of Faith”? YES / NO
- If you attend a group that is a recognized charity organization, have the leaders illegally withheld from you the organizations written bylaws when you have asked for a copy? YES / NO
- Is it difficult to get a straight answer from the group leader(s) on the group’s teachings? YES / NO
- Is your group secretive about any of its teachings, practices or meetings? YES / NO
- Does your group take “oaths” or have you commit to unrealistic expectations? YES / NO
- Are your leaders ever “harsh” in tone with you, or do you ever feel like an animal that is “driven hard”? YES / NO
- Have you been taught, told, or commanded not to share any of the teachings, doctrines, or practices that your group is involved in? YES / NO
- At any time of involvement with your group, have you ever been instructed to cut all ties with the past, with relatives (spouse, children, in-laws, etc.), or with friends? YES / NO
- Do your leaders favorably quote and endorse known false teachers and false teachings in their own sermons/teachings, messages, and materials? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP OR CHURCH’S POLICIES
- Does your group have any written or unwritten policies that allows leaders to use threats, pressures to conform, bribes, intimidation, verbal abuse, out-loud shaming, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or substance abuse, etc.? YES / NO
- Is foul language (cussing) or public humiliation used in any way as part of the public or private teaching within your group? YES / NO
- Would you say that your church or group has an extreme policy or guidelines for “disciplinary actions”? YES / NO
- Is, or could, your group’s policy on “discipline” be dangerous, illegal, or abusive in any way? YES / NO
- Do you think law enforcement officials would have a problem with the disciplinary guidelines and/or practices of your church, group, or organization? YES / NO
- Does your group restrict you from “visiting” other churches? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP’S LITERATURE AND MULTIMEDIA
- Do you rely completely, without question, upon the literature and information that your church/group gives you—for your own spiritual growth? YES / NO
- Will you be disciplined if you ever, at any time, listen to, read, or view literature and multi-media materials that are not from your group, church, or organization? Materials could include such things as books, journals, tracts, magazines, newsletters, CDs, DVDs, audio cassettes, videos, websites, etc. YES / NO
- Are you only allowed to use study aids, books, etc. that are from your group or organization? YES / NO
- Have your leaders ever told you that all Bible study materials outside of your group are considered worldly, bad, apostate, “of the devil,” or evil? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT MORALS AND ETHICS, HEALTH, AND CONSCIENCE
- Are you emotionally dependent on or require the “approval” of your leaders for what you do—what you eat, what you wear, where you go, what you say, who you spend time with, who you marry, the music you listen to, etc.? YES / NO
- Do you feel as though your life (or ministry) is being “micromanaged” by others? YES / NO
- Are your leaders cruel, vindictive, intimidating, or overbearing? YES / NO
- Do any of your leaders justify sexual immorality by telling you or anyone else things like “God told me it is okay for us to do this,” or “The Lord revealed this to me,” or “No one will ever know”? YES / NO
- Have you ever been instructed, led, forced, or coerced into any type of sexual activity with any of your group’s leaders—or anyone else in the church, group, or organization? YES / NO
- Are you or have you ever been commanded, forced, coerced, extorted, or manipulated into financial giving, tithing, “sowing your seed-faith offering,” etc.? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT MAKING PERSONAL CHOICES
- Do you feel you are manipulated when making personal choices about diet, clothing, time commitments, church/group service, tithing, friendships, dating, spouses, purchases, etc.? YES / NO
- Are choices ever made by any of your leaders that go against your own conscience? YES / NO
- Do authority figures within your group ever demand answers from you or use threats to get their way? YES / NO
- Do your leaders or the group-dynamics implemented in your group make you feel as though you cannot come and go as you please; meaning, you feel as though you’re expected to be at all or most of the meetings, and if you are not, you are in trouble? YES / NO
- If you are experiencing abuse in any way, very likely you are fearful or nervous about leaving your group, church, or organization. Are you fearful in any way that if you left, you would be hounded and harassed? YES / NO
- Do your leaders, or the group itself by consensus, make choices to involve you in things that you don’t like or would prefer not to be a part of? YES / NO
- Are you pressured, manipulated, or coerced into making decisions—any decisions at all—regarding anything with the group and its leaders, members, and activities? YES / NO
- Do you feel guilty or “dirty” after making decisions because . . . “that is just what our group does”? Or, is the proverbial “red flag of conscience” waving inside of your heart and mind saying, “This is just not right at all,” or, “This is weird” or, “We should not be doing or allowing this!”? YES / NO
- Is pressure put upon you in any way to avoid “outside information” about your group—like online reviews, assessments, and critical essays that contain quotes from your leaders and/or your organization’s published resources? YES / NO
- Are you fearful that if you make an accidental “wrong choice” your leaders will punish you or purposefully humiliate you in front of your peers, family, or the group/church congregation? YES / NO
- Have you ever been punished or abused in any of the following ways: Physically abused, out-loud verbal shaming in front of others, given the non-verbal “silent treatment,” given coded non-verbal abuse such as “the look,” financially mistreated or extorted and as a result suffered financial repercussions, sexually abused in any way, emotionally manipulated, purposefully betrayed, been the victim of sexual innuendos, spousal divisiveness, etc.? YES / NO
- Are spoken or unspoken must-obey “dress code rules” implemented in your group, and, if broken, will this lead to “disciplinary action”? (This is beyond simple personal modesty in dress in social, cultural, and cross-cultural settings.) YES / NO
- If you are a woman, are you taught or commanded that you absolutely must wear long skirts, have long hair, avoid all make-up, and wear a head covering in order to please God? Will you be chastised or considered “carnal” if you do not comply with these rules? YES / NO
- If you are a woman, do your group leaders tell you that you are to submit to your husband no matter what he does to you or tells you to do even if it is illegal or physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive to you or your children? YES / NO
- If you are a husband and father, are your church leaders overly involved in telling you what to do with your wife and children (beyond the normal parameters of biblical counseling and advice)?
This has been a portion of this booklet. In the full booklet, there are 101 questions. You may purchase a copy of the booklet in its entirety by clicking here. The cost for one booklet is $1.95 (quantity discounts for 6 or more copies)
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I really appreciate all of you at LHTs. Thank you and God bless each one of you. I went through a very difficult period when attending Calvary Chapel __________. I was very uncomfortable with what they were permitting and promoting. I was very distressed. I had concerns about The Message bible, Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz’s Circle Prayer, Greg Laurie and a few other things. I was told to spit out the bones. I asked them to show me that approach in Scripture—they ignored me. I raised concerns again and was booted out harshly. It was mean. It hurt. LHT helped me to understand the concerns were reasonable. I am still sad for the way things ended—but God comforts me—I am okay. I think this is what happens sometimes, and what happened to me is mild in comparison to other situations.This has encouraged me to read and study God’s Word. I really appreciate all that you do- will keep you all in prayer.
June (not real name)