Posts Tagged ‘churches in crisis’

Letter to the Editor: In Search of a Church – One Family’s Painful Journey

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

When I met my husband in 2005, I was attending a nondenominational church while he attended a local megachurch. During our attendance at his church, it was discovered that sexual sin was being allowed by the leadership among servers in the children’s ministry, so we went back to what had been my home church. What happened there turned out to be the test of our Christian lives.

My nondenominational home church started making changes, mostly subtle, a tad unusual, but nothing overtly alarming or distressing. For example, they started reading from The Book of Common Prayers. Popular authors like John Ortberg and Gary Thomas were taught, and since they sounded good and got the stamp of approval from our leaders, we followed along. Here’s a surprising change, coming from a nondenominational church with Missionary denominational roots: they started practicing Lent and even had an Ash Wednesday service. My mother was raised Roman Catholic and hates that religion (not Catholics). I was raised to avoid any and all things Catholic (except Catholics!) So I listened intently when a pastor informed us about the Ash Wednesday service. It was justified with “our church fathers did it, so we will.” Naively, a friend and I decided that reasoning was fine. I was heavily pregnant with my second child that evening. As they were calling people up to get ashes on their forehead, pew by pew, I was having contractions. When they were just a few pews away, we had to leave due to my contractions. The Lord was working to reveal something to my heart, something about WHY He would prevent me from participating in this ceremony, but I couldn’t connect the dots at the time.

Sometime soon after our second child was born, my mom became practically unhinged with concern. She was listening to radio teaching while she was driving, and someone reported that Lynne Hybels said she had no problem with referring to Mary as “Queen of Heaven.” Ma pulled over to the side of the road, the sensation being like a punch in the stomach. See, this title is given by Catholics to Mary and is unabashedly heretical. Lynne Hybels, however, is the wife of Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.

The broadcast recommended a book for understanding this movement within Christendom: Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. She was truly alarmed as she finished this book. She begged George (my husband) and I to read it. Quite honestly, we made excuses and dragged our feet about reading it because we knew there was something seriously wrong. When I finally read just the first chapter, the awful feeling in my gut gave way to tears: I could see my beloved home church in just the first few pages. Faith Undone (and then A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen) gave us the worldview “lens” through which we will view Christianity and these times in which we live until the day we see Jesus.

Sober and grieving, we had to address the issues at my church. We penned a letter to all the pastors, buying and sharing informational books on this movement, and asking for answers. We were ignored. A year later, a respected person there raised concerns about us, and then we were called. That meeting with the senior and another pastor revealed that the senior pastor did breath prayers (mystical prayer), and their pride was palpable. It was our second blow dealt by leaders we had loved and trusted.

Then we tried a small satellite campus church of a large, local Missionary church. This time we had books ready and interviewed the pastor. He assured us he wouldn’t do anything to bring in bad teaching or hurt the church, being dismissive of our concerns. That church lasted a few months until, and this was after our thorough warning of this apostasy was given to the pastor, he allowed blatant Catholic imagery during the worship time. We got up and left.

Ma had found our next church home. Life was good at this new Missionary church. Then came the new, permanent pastor. Dutifully, we met with him, explaining this heretical movement, offering books, discussing as much as we could. We had three meetings with him and various church leaders. We gave lists of compromised teachers, too. We were assured—again—that our church body wouldn’t be led astray. Soon thereafter, our pastor unashamedly started teaching Rick Warren material. He made it clear that he admired that original megachurch we had attended and wanted our current Missionary church to be like theirs. We were told privately in a meeting with him and his wife that a church like that megachurch could reach many more people than George and I ever could.

Ma had left before us and had found what would turn out to be our last home church, a fundamental Bible church north of town. Ma pointedly asked this new pastor about the Emergent Church movement. Essentially, he said it was wrong and wouldn’t allow it, so we headed there next.

We cautiously considered membership after truly getting to know the pastor and doctrines. We did become members, which was no small decision for a family having been repeatedly betrayed by several churches in the recent past. We were absolutely serious about this new fundamental Bible church being our church home and fighting this apostasy as much as possible. It was even agreed upon by the pastor that me and Ma, knowledgeable about the Emergent movement, would be “watchmen on the wall” for our leaders. Then came Priscilla Shirer’s third book study in January. This started a whole domino effect in our household. We all three researched her. Shirer is definitely contemplative. We all agreed that none of us could sit under her teaching.

Ma compiled her evidence for the leaders, but they decided her warning was unfounded. The Lord has since made it clear that the elders did not have unity about allowing Shirer’s material. We wondered how the numerous articles warning against Shirer would give them peace about allowing her material.

As we researched Shirer, we discovered trouble with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, who is the popular teacher/author of Revive Our Hearts, a sub-organization under Life Action Ministries. She promoted circle-making prayer, and she favorably quoted Richard Foster and Brother Lawrence. Those men are/were mystics, and circle-making prayer echoes the pagan, occultic practice of circle-making/power circles.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit” (Matthew 12:33). Also, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11). If we see this rotten fruit and taste the bitter water of this apostasy, we cannot sit under that authority any longer.

George’s and my decision to leave our last church home came down to 1) the leadership was acting in disunity, which is sin, and 2) compromised, heretical teaching was coming in to our church through Life Action Ministries.

We fully believe that if you are wondering for yourself if you are being called to take a stand against this apostasy, just humbly ask the Lord for wisdom. Humility is essential here. Yet this stand we are proposing is no small task. In Matthew 10, the Lord warns that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, dividing people from those whom they love most dearly for His namesake. Everything and everyone must be laid down at the altar; we can hold nothing back. Personally, we cannot count the relationships that have been lost or damaged due to our stand, nor can we express the personal toll this has taken on us. But by God’s grace, we endeavor to surrender all. Jesus is worth it!

Our last pastor looked us straight in the eye and said he was not willing to consider that Life Action Ministries is compromised; he “knows their heart,” that they are good. We said we will come back in a heartbeat if/when he is willing to objectively research them. Until then, we cannot submit to his (or by association, their) authority. It’s just that simple for us.

We contend that this is THE end times’ apostasy that Jesus warned of in Mark 13:22, where, if possible, even the very elect will be led astray. How in the world could we knowingly participate in this?

B.J.

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Lighthouse Trails Sends Out Third Letter and Two Booklets to 130 Christian Leaders

Lighthouse Trails has now mailed out the third letter along with two booklets to about 130 Christian leaders in the U.S. As we reported earlier this year in our article titled “Lighthouse Trails Publishing to Make Contact with Over 100 Christian Leaders to Warn About Jesus Calling,” we prayerfully made the decision to start sending short letters and selected titles of our booklets to those who are considered major Christian leaders in America. Our list is currently at 130 names.

Our first mailing included a copy of Warren B. Smith’s booklet 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book and was sent out in March of 2016. Our second letter was sent out in May of 2016 and included two booklets: Ray Yungen’s 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer and Roger Oakland’s Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome.

In this third mailing, we sent the leaders two booklets: Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute by David Dombrowski (chief editor of Lighthouse Trails) and Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (And Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t). The following is the contents of the third letter:

Dear Christian Leader:

We are sending you two booklets that we publish, which we hope you will find helpful in understanding some of the serious problems the Christian church is facing today.

Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation explains what the Spiritual Formation movement is, how it is tied in with the contemplative-prayer movement that originated with the Catholic Church, and how pervasive it has become in the evangelical and Protestant church today.

Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute is an exhortation for pastors and leaders to remember that the Bible says the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God. It is this very power that has the ability to change lives; but so many in today’s church have taken a hold of powerless substitutes and then wonder why Christians are not growing in maturity, strength, and wisdom.

We hope you will read and prayerfully consider the messages in these two booklets.

Sincerely in Christ,

The Editors at Lighthouse Trails

You may view the list of leaders we sent this letter and the booklets to by clicking here (although we have since added a few more names).

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Letter to the Editor: First Responders in a Biblical Emergency

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Dear Lighthouse Trails Editors:

It seems that a new phrase might be in order to describe what’s going on in the church.  When we see or hear someone endorse a practice that goes contrary to the Word within the church especially, I guess we could call that “a biblical emergency” for lack of a better term.  We could call those who are out on the front lines warning us about these practices “first responders” in a certain sense, similar to the terminology that applies to those responding to a fire, a robbery, etc.

With contemplative prayer, mantra meditation, and other unbiblical practices having entered into the church, I would say the church has that kind of emergency situation.  It’s a very unusual way to describe that.

Sincerely,

Ron D.

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The Bottom Line

Bible On PulpitBy Maria Kneas
(author of How to Prepare for Hard Times and Persecution | Lighthouse Trails | 2015)

[C]hoose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

Our human thinking is flawed, and we all have blind spots. Even pastors and seminary professors make mistakes in their thinking. That is why the Bible tells us:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Our understanding is valuable, but it has limitations. We are children of God. Our heavenly Father knows everything. However, since we are “children,” we are limited in our comprehension. We all make mistakes. The only man who ever got everything right was the Lord Jesus Christ.
Even the apostle Paul had limitations in his understanding. He wrote nearly a fourth of the New Testament, and much of our theology is based on his writings, but he said:

For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, emphasis added)

Paul said he only knew “in part.” He didn’t fully comprehend everything. If Paul’s understanding was incomplete, then modern Christians (who depend on Paul’s writings) are even more limited in their understanding.

Therefore, we cannot have unquestioning confidence in any denomination, or church, or pastor, or teacher. We must test everything against what the Bible says. We need to do our own praying, and our own Bible studying, instead of relying on “experts” to do it for us.

Having a church and a pastor is valuable, and we should treasure them, but we need to be able to stand on our own if necessary. Even with a good church and a good pastor, we need to test everything we are taught against Scripture. Good pastors can change. Sometimes all it takes is attending one conference or reading one book. The Bible warns us:

Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. (Jeremiah 17:5)

When the disciples asked Jesus what the signs of His return would be, the very first thing He said was:

Take heed that no man deceive you. (Matthew 24:4)

Today, some pastors openly deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My city has a large Baptist church whose pastor denies the atonement (that Jesus died to save us from our sins). Some of these heretics have large, prosperous churches, so they probably have charismatic attention-getting personalities. Their preaching sounds good to people who don’t really think about what has been said or who haven’t read enough of the Bible to recognize when statements are contrary to Scripture.

Some pastors don’t believe in God, so many that they have an online support group. Their motto is “Moving beyond faith.”1
The fact that such men can be pastors is amazing. Why don’t the members of their churches recognize that something is seriously wrong and either get rid of those pastors or else leave those churches?

We need to be on guard, because the devil wants to undermine our faith. The Bible warns us:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Will we take a stand for true Christian doctrine, even if our family and our friends mock us because of it? And even if our pastor says we are wrong?

Will we take a stand for biblical standards of morality, even if the world calls it “hate speech”? Or if it is called a “hate crime,” for which we can go to jail?

Where do our priorities lie? The Bible warns us against compromising our faith because of the fear of what men may do to us. Jesus told us not to be afraid of those who can kill our bodies, but “rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

This is where the “fear of the Lord” becomes important. Our actions and attitudes have eternal consequences. Therefore, we need to have a healthy fear of God.

These days, it is popular to say that the “fear of the Lord” just means reverence. Well, it includes reverence, but it means more than that. God is our Judge, and He can send us to Hell. Jesus warned us that some people who think they are good Christians will wind up in Hell. He said:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus also warned us that following Him would result in suffering. Some people react to hardship by getting angry at God and turning away from Him. Jesus told us:

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Luke 7:23)

Sometimes people become offended with God when they don’t understand what God is doing. The Bible gives us an example of that:

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:60-61, 66-68)

Persecution is increasing. “Unthinkable” things are happening in the world today. When the pain and the sorrow come, will we turn to God? Or will we turn away from Him?

If things happen that we cannot understand, will we become offended with God?

If things turn out differently than we expected, based on what our pastor or our Sunday school teacher told us, will we say the Bible isn’t true? Will we call God a liar? Or will we say our pastor or Sunday school teacher was mistaken?

Will we be like the disciples who became offended with Jesus and “walked no more with him”? Or will we be like Peter, who stuck with Jesus in spite of everything?

That’s the bottom line, and our eternal destiny depends on what we do then.

Heaven and Hell are very real. There is far more at stake than we can comprehend now. We won’t fully understand it until we see Jesus face to face.

CHOOSE LIFE
(by Maria Kneas)

God sets before you life and death.
Choose life.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The devil is a liar and a thief.
He wants to kill your hope and steal your joy
And fill your days with endless grief.

Jesus came to give unshakeable peace
And the only freedom that’s real.
He wants to fill your heart with everlasting joy.
He wants to love and bless and heal.

God sets before you life and death.
Choose life.

(This is an excerpt from How to Prepare for Hard Times and Persecution.)

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Letter to the Editor: Shared Concerns About Jesus Calling and A.D. Series With Pastor But to No Avail

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I have personal experience with the book: Jesus Calling. A few years ago, having received the book as a gift by a church member, I began to read it. I had no prior knowledge of the book but quickly realized I did not like it. I thought there was another spirit within the pages. I threw it in the garbage can, not even willing to donate it to the thrift shop. We have since moved and have connected to another church. The worship, teaching, and fellowship is God directed, and we were very happy to have found this group of people.

downey-burnett

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey

I have come to know that our pastor’s wife and other members use Jesus Calling as their devotional. I purchased your tract The New Age Implications Of Jesus Calling, read and studied it, and met with our pastor to discuss the A.D. series [by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett], which is being shown on Wed. nights. I wound up giving him the A.D. series tract and the Jesus Calling tract. While discussing the A.D. series concerns, he was not convinced there was a problem with it. He stated that he points out to the viewers the scenes not in the Bible and believes they could have taken place as they are quite believable. I say a little leaven spoils the whole lump. He was skeptical to what I shared regarding Jesus Calling and said he would read the tracts when he has the time and that people give him many books, etc. to read and some go unread.

I have received no reply for more than a month now. My future involvement and impending membership hinge on these issues. Is he just too blind to see or unwilling to place importance on these issues? I am more dismayed as time passes.

In view of the deception in many churches, what is a Christian to do? The need to connect spiritually with other believers is vital. I grieve to think of having to leave the fellowship of our church, but the time has come when true worshippers must worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

I believe God sends messengers into churches to expose deception similar to the messengers of Revelation chapter 2. If the warning goes unheeded then eventually judgement will take place.

B.R.

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Radio Interview: “Cult Evangelism in the Church” with Chris Lawson, Spiritual Research Network

chris-lawson-logoFrom Cindy Hartline, Love for the Truth Radio:

Click here to listen to interview.

Is My Church Acting Like A Cult? Have some seemly “Bible believing Churches” become Cults? Many people have been hurt by such churches because of their cult-like operation and attitude. The most knowledgeable person I know to discuss this topic is Christopher Lawson — Pastor, Counselor, Missionary, Researcher, Writer, and Lecturer who has spent much of his time helping people escape the clutches of spiritual deception and informing and warning them of the dangers of cults, the occult and mysticism based spirituality. Christopher Lawson is the Founder, Director and General Editor of Spiritual Research Network, a Christian outreach dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel and encouraging biblical discernment. www.spiritual-research-network.com.

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Seattle Megachurch Mars Hill Dissolves 2 Weeks After Founder Mark Driscoll Resigns

LTRP Note: On October 20th, Lighthouse Trails posted the following article: “Mark Driscoll Resigns From Mars Hill Church For Social Failures – But Media Silent on Controversial Doctrinal Issues.” Below is a related news article by Associated Press. No doubt, there is a story behind the story on this one. Time will reveal more.

2nd LTRP Note-11/3: Shortly after our posting the article below on 11/2, a reader on our Facebook page posted a link to an article written by a former Mars Hill Church deacon (our providing this link is not an endorsement of the media source from which it came) responding to an incident where shortly after Driscoll’s resignation a couple weeks ago, Driscoll showed up and spoke at the Gateway Conference where he made a theatrical and emotional attempt for sympathy (which worked for the thousands in attended who gave him a standing ovation), and now over 100,000 people have watched this performance on YouTube. At the risk of increasing that number even more, we are providing a link to that here for our readers.

  SEATTLE (AP) — Two weeks after lead Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll resigned amid questions about his leadership, the Seattle megachurch he founded announced Friday it was dissolving its network of branches across four states.

The church said on its website that the best future for its branches would be for them to becoming “autonomous self-governed entities.”

“This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams,” Pastor Dave Bruskas wrote on the church’s website.

The existing Mars Hill Church organization will be dissolved.

The megachurch’s controversial founder resigned as elder and lead pastor on Oct. 14, following an investigation into formal charges brought against him.

The church currently has multiple branches in Washington, and one location each in Oregon, California and New Mexico. Last month, it closed its Phoenix location as a Mars Hill church.  Click here to continue reading.

 

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