Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Rodney Howard Browne – The Man Who Laid Hands on President Trump

LTRP Note: Last week, it was announced in several news sources  that Rodney Howard Browne was one of a number of “evangelical” leaders who laid hands on and prayed for Donald Trump at the White House. Browne is the “father” of the Holy Laughter movement and said on his Facebook page after last week’s presidential prayer, “we are going to see another great spiritual awakening.” We find it sad and troubling that someone like Browne (not to mention some of the others present) is in a position to represent Christianity to both the president and the world. To understand some things about Rodney Howard Browne’s teachings and beliefs, please see the article below by Warren B. Smith. You can read about some of the other leaders present by using the search engine at www.deceptioninthechurch.com.

FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?

By Warren B. Smith

Editors Note: Today there is much talk in the church about revival. Some leaders, citing God as their authority, state they have been told that a great “outpouring” of God’s Spirit is about to occur. Other leaders are describing this imminent “move of God” as another “Great Awakening”—a “second Pentecost.” What is immediately troubling to us is that some of the church figures who are leading the charge for this coming “revival” are the very same ones who gave us the “holy” laughter “revival” back in the 1990s—a “move of God” that was dubiously dubbed “The Toronto Blessing.”

Back when this alleged “revival” was spreading throughout the church, author and former New Ager Warren B. Smith wrote an article that expressed his concerns about what was taking place. His 1994 piece was titled “Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?” and was featured in a discernment newsletter and later reprinted in other Christian magazines and journals. The article’s main focus was on South African evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne—the man who was responsible for bringing the “holy” laughter “revival” into the church. As countless people flocked to Toronto to get “hit” with “holy” laughter, Smith urged everyone to take a closer look at what was being called a “revival.”

With no apologies for “holy” laughter and the strange manifestations associated with his “holy” laughter “revival,” a somewhat reinvented Rodney Howard-Browne now pastors a 3,000-member church in Tampa, Florida. He is frequently found preaching on cable channels around the country. Howard-Browne also heads Revival Ministries International and presents “Global Awakening” conferences throughout the world. In the summer of 2014, he organized and headlined a much ballyhooed two-week “Celebrate America” event that was held in Washington D.C. In asking for financial support for the event on his revival.com website, Howard-Browne asked people to “invest in the Great Awakening” that he believes he has been ordained by God to lead. Some of those who spoke alongside him included Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Senate Chaplain Barry Black, Retired Colonel Oliver North, Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin, author/columnist Dr. Ben Carson, and best-selling author Jonathan Cahn (author of The Harbinger).

Because Browne has placed himself at the forefront of the present-day push for revival in the church, we feel it important to revisit the concerns expressed by Warren B. Smith back in 1994.

Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?

I watched the video again. It was titled Signs and Wonders Camp Meeting 1994.1 Pastors of huge charismatic churches were stumbling around the church stage “drunk” with “holy” laughter. Wanting to testify to the fact that “holy” laughter had transformed their ministries and their lives, many of them were unable to speak when called on to do so. But their “drunken” condition became their testimony. Their halting speech was seen as “proof” of the “power of the spirit” that had come over them. The congregation roared in approval as pastor after pastor laughed uncontrollably then fell to the floor. Standing alongside the “drunken” pastors was evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, the self described “Holy Ghost bartender” who was serving up this “new wine” of “holy” laughter. Many Christians believed that Howard-Browne was God’s appointed channel for imparting joy and revival to the end-times church. Other Christians came to see Howard-Browne as a false prophet who has inflicted great damage to the body of Christ.

Early last spring we received a fax from someone expressing concern about a new phenomenon called “holy” laughter. He said that a San Francisco Bay Area Vineyard Church was experiencing what was being described as “revival” and that the manifestation of “holy” laughter was being cited as one of the signs of this “revival.” Church members and visitors were reportedly breaking into fits of spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter during their nightly services.

Later when I visited the San Francisco Vineyard and talked with several members of the congregation, I was told how hundreds of people were getting “hit” with “revival”—how some people were getting so “soaked in the spirit” they would lose consciousness for up to several hours after falling to the ground with “holy” laughter. The Vineyard members described “holy” laughter unqualifiedly as “awesome” and definitely “the work of the Lord.”

I learned that their Vineyard pastors had recently flown to a Vineyard church in Toronto where God had reportedly “touched down” and where “revival” had “broken out.” The San Francisco pastors participating in the Toronto “revival” had then “brought it back” to San Francisco. It seemed that one of the characteristics of “holy” laughter is that it can be easily transferred from one person to another through the laying on of hands. Thus, the Toronto “revival” had now “spread” to San Francisco. Nightly meetings were being held at the San Francisco Vineyard to accommodate the streams of people wanting to get “touched” by this “move of God.”

Within weeks of my visit to Vineyard, I happened to catch a program on “holy” laughter on a local Christian TV station. The panel of guests was enthusiastically discussing “holy” laughter and endorsing it unquestioningly as a latter days “outpouring” of God’s Holy Spirit. Comparing “holy” laughter to the “work” of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were convinced that “holy” laughter was completely authentic. They equated “holy” laughter with the biblical notion of joy. As far as they were concerned, “holy” laughter was the “joy of the Lord.” Scriptural references to joy were cited; testimonies were given; songs were sung; and by the end of the program, I felt like I had just watched a one-hour infomercial on “holy” laughter.

Then, several weeks later, there was a program about “holy” laughter on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While preacher Rodney Howard-Browne was giving what appeared to be a serious message, people in the audience were laughing wildly for no apparent reason. But Howard-Browne seemed oblivious to the disruption and kept on preaching. Then when the laughter was at its height, he began incorporating all that was happening into his sermon. He said that the “holy” laughter they were experiencing was a last days expression of God’s “Holy Spirit.” He also compared the “Spirit” that was manifesting to the Spirit at Pentecost. He reminded his audience how those gathered in the upper room had been viewed by others as being “drunk” on alcohol when in fact they were “drunk” in the Spirit.

Howard-Browne’s audience continued to laugh hilariously as he spoke of a present-day “revival” and how “holy” laughter was ushering in this “revival.” At the end of the service, Howard-Browne shuffled around the huge assembly hall, now breaking into long fits of laughter himself. As he walked around, talking and laughing and speaking in tongues, he began to lay hands on people. After he said “be filled” and repeated the phrase “from the top of your head to the tips of your toes,” people fell to the ground in hysterical laughter. As the program ended, the evangelist continued to weave his way amongst the fallen bodies, many of them still convulsed in laughter.

Also during this time, I was sent a copy of a flyer saying that Charles and Frances Hunter, the authors of a new book titled Holy Laughter, were coming to Portland, Maine. The flyer said, “God is filling the church with holy laughter! Come and receive a baptism of joy! You will never be the same! Don’t miss this unforgettable move of the Holy Spirit!” Another book on “holy” laughter titled Fresh Anointing: Another Great Awakening, was also brought to my attention at this time. In it, author Mona Johnian describes the “holy” laughter “revival” that erupted in her Boston church after she and her husband attended a meeting led by Rodney Howard-Browne.

In the midst of this same two-month period, there was yet another program on “holy” laughter. I was watching a locally televised church service, and the guest preacher was Richard Roberts, the president of Oral Roberts University and son of Oral Roberts. His whole sermon was on “holy” laughter and how it had changed his life and ministry. He described how “revival” had come to Oral Roberts University. Roberts explained how he had canceled classes for two days so that his four thousand students could personally experience the “joy of the Lord” and receive the “gift” of “holy” laughter. I was not surprised to learn that the “revival” Roberts was describing had come through the person of Rodney Howard-Browne.

And then to round out my summer crash course on the subject of “holy” laughter, the August issue of Charisma magazine had Rodney Howard-Browne on its cover. He was clearly the man of the hour. The cover story on this by now wildly popular “Holy Ghost bartender” was titled “Praise the Lord and Pass the New Wine.” The article was yet one more endorsement of Howard-Browne and “holy” laughter. And what I was starting to realize was that all of the “holy” laughter I had recently encountered—the TV programs, the books, the various “anointings, and “revivals” could all be traced back to him: Toronto Vineyard, San Francisco Vineyard, the Hunters, Mona Johnian, Richard Roberts, and all the rest. The Charisma article described Rodney Howard-Browne as the “spiritual conduit” for “holy” laughter. But I wanted to know how Rodney Howard-Browne got his “anointing?”

The Charisma article stated that in South Africa, in the summer of 1979, Howard-Browne “spent hours praying for a deeper experience with God.” In the midst of his prayers, he is quoted as having told God, “Either you come down here and touch me, or I will come up there and touch you.” Charisma said that suddenly in the midst of that prayer Howard-Browne’s “whole body felt like it was on fire. He began to laugh uncontrollably. Then he wept and began to speak in tongues.” In Howard-Browne’s book The Touch of God, Charisma quotes him as saying, “I was plugged into heaven’s electric supply, and since then my desire has been to go and plug other people in.”

And certainly one of the most outstanding characteristics of Howard-Browne’s “anointing” and the whole “laughing revival” is that it is so immediately transferable from person to person. Those “anointed” by Howard-Browne can now “anoint” others. And that is what’s happening. The “Spirit” that visited Howard-Browne has exponentially multiplied as it has been passed on from person to person around the world. A video advertised in that same August issue of Charisma documents the spread of Howard-Browne’s “holy” laughter. It is titled The Laugh that was Heard ‘round the World (see a video example below).

The “holy” laughter “revival” started by Howard-Browne is spreading like wildfire around the world. A recent conference sponsored by Toronto Vineyard drew 2300 pastors from countries as far away as Cambodia. They had all come to observe the “laughing revival” that was now being called “The Toronto Blessing.” Even skeptical pastors were getting “hit” with the “Spirit” and then taking that “Spirit” back to their churches and towns.

Howard-Browne’s “laughing revival” has now officially moved into the Christian mainstream with a recent endorsement from Pat Robertson on his popular 700 Club. On October 27, 1994, Robertson said this about holy laughter:

[W]hat this says to me is revival is taking place in the world in a mass wave . . . and we look to the coming of the Lord. I think this is a very encouraging sign in the middle of all this trouble and all these wars and all this confusion. God is saying I’m on the throne and I’m going to touch multiplied millions. It’s wonderful. I applaud it.

But what does the Bible say about laughter?

Last summer, after watching Rodney Howard-Browne on TBN, I consulted my concordance to see if there was any biblical precedent for “holy” laughter. Surprisingly, I found only 40 references to laughter in the Bible; 34 of them were in the Old Testament, while only six were in the New Testament. Of those 40 references, 22 of them referred to scornful laughter, as in Nehemiah 2:19 when Nehemiah said, “they laughed us to scorn.” Of the 18 remaining references to laughter, seven of them referred exclusively to Abraham and Sarah’s initial disbelief and ultimate astonishment that God would give them a child in their old age. Barely into my study on laughter, I was already down to my last 11 references.

In Job 8:21, Bildad, one of Job’s false comforters, wrongly advised Job that if he were in right standing with God he would be prosperous and full of laughter. The Psalmist in Psalm 126:2 recorded that when the captivity of Zion was over, “then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.” Proverbs 29:9 says, “if a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.”

With only eight remaining references, I had seen nothing in the Bible up to this point that suggested anything even resembling “holy” laughter. In Ecclesiastes 2:2, Solomon says, “I said of laughter, it is mad.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says, “sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” Ecclesiastes 7:6 says, “for as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 10:19 says that “a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry.”

Interestingly the Bible’s last three references to laughter—the only three references to authentic laughter in the New Testament—warn against laughter. These three references actually seemed to underline Solomon’s contention in Ecclesiastes that “sorrow is better that laughter” and that now is a time to weep and not to laugh. In Luke 6:21, Jesus says, “blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” In Luke 6:25, Jesus says, “woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” James 4:9 tells us not to laugh but to “be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

I had searched the Scriptures to find any biblical precedent for “holy” laughter, and there was none. To my amazement, I had discovered surprisingly few references in the Bible to any kind of laughter. Did this mean that God doesn’t have a sense of humor or that people in the Bible never laughed? No. It just meant that laughter apparently was not something God chose to emphasize very much. And certainly Jesus’ last words on laughter—”woe unto you who laugh now!”—were not ones that would seem to give any encouragement to a “laughing revival.”

The Lord says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).

14 Concerns About “Holy” Laughter and the “Laughing Revival”

(1) There is no biblical precedent for “holy” laughter.

Laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible. Yet, when it is, the Bible seems to make more of a case for holy sorrow than for “holy” laughter. Scripture supports Solomon’s contention that “sorrow is better than laughter.” It does not support the present “laughing revival.”

(2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is inaccurate and misleading.

There is no scriptural authority for equating biblical references to joy with the involuntary manifestations of “holy” laughter. Just because there are insufficient Bible texts to make the case for “holy” laughter, it does not follow that you can simply redefine the word laughter by substituting the word joy.

(3) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need to test the spirits.

The Bible warns us that not every supernatural manifestation is necessarily from God. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Charles and Francis Hunter write in their book Holy Laughter, “Once you begin to walk in the supernatural you really have to be ready for anything and everything and never question the way God does it!”

(4) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Spirit’s express warning that in the latter times some people will be supernaturally seduced by deceptive evil spirits into following them and not the one true God.

1 Timothy 4:1 warns, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

(5) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Bible’s warnings of false prophets who come in the name of Jesus but bring with them “another spirit.”

2 Corinthians 11:4 says, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

(6) Many laughter advocates condescendingly discourage and even openly intimidate sincere Christians who question the “laughing revival.”

According to the August 1994 Charisma article, Rodney Howard-Browne “disparages” people who “try to apply theological tests” to what he does. The Hunters’ book Holy Laughter refers to skeptics as God’s “frozen chosen.” Mona Johnian writes, “skeptics, hesitators and procrastinators do not get anointed.” She warns that “any person or church that wavered could be eliminated.”

(7) Rodney Howard-Browne’s prayer to God just prior to his “anointing” (“either You come down here and touch me or I’ll come up there and touch You”) is unscriptural.

Howard-Browne’s prayer was, in essence, “my will be done.” It was not “thy will be done” as taught by Jesus in Scripture. Why should we automatically assume it was God who answered his prayer?

(8) “Holy” laughter advocates, in talking about “signs and wonders,” rarely, if ever, mention the Bible’s many warnings about deceptive signs and wonders.

In Matthew 16:4 Jesus warns, “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” In Matthew 24:24, Jesus says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, the apostle Paul warns of the coming Antichrist, “even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

(9) “Holy” laughter advocates seem to lay hands on almost everybody. The Bible specifically warns against this.

The eighth chapter of Acts describes how the disciples would not lay hands on Simon, a baptized believer, even though he desperately wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost, because his heart was “not right in the sight of God.” 1 Timothy 5:22 warns us to “lay hands suddenly on no man.” Yet “holy” laughter is passed on from person to person without so much as a second thought.

(10) “Holy” laughter advocates blatantly disregard the biblical admonition that things be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Mona Johnian in her book Fresh Anointing says, “decently and in order! We must do things decently and in order. The Bible itself commands it, cry those who are frightened by that which is beyond traditional order.”3 She advises her readers to “break with tradition.”4

(11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the “laughing revival” contradicts the Bible’s description of the Person of God.

1 Corinthians 14:33 states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

(12) Laughter advocates rarely if ever, discuss the well-documented demonic deceptions that have manifested in past revivals.

To combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century, authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God’s people. Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The foreword to War on the Saints warns of “the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm.”

(13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of “holy” laughter when they were in the New Age.

Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the “divine drunkard” because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the “Divine.” As a former follower of Rajneesh, I met hundreds of Sannyasins who had flown to India “to drink” from “Bhagwan’s wine.” When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktananda would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru.

(14) The “laughing revival” could one day merge with what the New Age calls the coming day of “Planetary Pentecost.”

Barbara Marx Hubbard (revered New Age leader and a 1984 Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States) writes in her book, Teachings from the Inner Christ, how the human race will soon experience a day of “Planetary Pentecost.” Hubbard, claiming to be in contact with “Christ,” writes, “the Planetary Smile is another name for the Planetary Pentecost. When enough of us share a common thought of our oneness with God, Spirit will be poured out on all flesh paying attention.”5 In her book The Revelation, Hubbard says that “Christ” (in describing the Planetary Smile) said,

An uncontrollable joy will ripple through the thinking layer of the Earth. The co-creative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and attraction . . . as this joy flashes through the nervous systems of the most sensitive peoples on Earth, it will create a psycho magnetic field of empathy, which will align the next wave of people in synchrony, everywhere on Earth. This massive, sudden empathic alignment will cause a shift in the consciousness of Earth. 6

Writing in Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, Hubbard repeats what she heard from “Christ.” He said:

As the planetary smile ripples through the nervous systems of Earth, and the instant of co-operation begins, and empathy floods the feelings of the whole body of Earth, separation is overcome, and I appear to all of you at once.7

The controversy over “holy” laughter is splitting congregations and causing deep divisions in the body of Christ. And while many people have already taken sides, there are many more who are still trying to figure out just what is going on. Is this really a move of God, or is this the kind of deception the Bible warns about in Matthew 24, 1 Timothy 4:1, and in the second chapter of Thessalonians?

Unity is indeed the heartfelt desire of every sincere Christian (Psalm 133:1). But the Bible warns of massive deception that will come at the end and in Christ’s name. Before the Church—in the name of unity—free falls into a worldwide “laughing revival,” we had better be sure what it is we are uniting with.

In reflecting on “holy” laughter during these very troubled times, I recalled a music special I had seen on television a number of years ago. In the midst of an otherwise polite Hollywood type crowd, a male vocalist sang straight faced and sober into the teeth of their celebration. His words were electric and piercing, and they seemed to hang in the air. He sang, “You’re laughing now, but you should be praying. You’re in the midnight hour of your life.”

Some Examples of “Holy” Laughter in Other Religions

1) Kundalini Energy is typically described as a powerful energy source lying dormant in the form of a coiled serpent at the base of the human spine. When freed, it reputedly has the capacity to effect great physical healings. Christina and Stanislov Grof, New Age authors of the book The Stormy Search for the Self, describe how the awakening of Kundalini energy can be triggered by an advanced spiritual teacher or guru. And how the awakening can bring up memories of past psychological traumas. The Grofs state that:

Individuals involved in this process might find it difficult to control their behavior; during power rushes of Kundalini energy, they often emit various involuntary sounds, and their bodies move in strange and unexpected patterns. Among the most common manifestations . . . are unmotivated and unnatural laughter or crying, talking tongues . . . and imitating a variety of animal sounds and movements.8

The Grofs also state that “careful study of the manifestations of Kundalini awakening confirm that this process, although sometimes very intense and shattering, is essentially healing.

A. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the former Oregon guru, tells one of his followers in his book Dance Your Way To God:

Just be joyful . . . God is not serious . . . this world cannot fit with a theological God . . . so let this be your constant reminder—that you have to dance your way to God, to laugh your way to God.9

Often referred to as being “drunk on the divine,” Rajneesh encouraged his followers to come and “drink” from him. Bhagwan’s spiritual “wine” was often passed along with a single touch to the head. Many of his Sannyasins would fall to the floor in ecstasy after their encounters with Rajneesh.

B. Ramakrishna, an Indian saint, “daily went into ‘samahdi,’ a trance in which one involuntarily falls down unconscious and enters a rapturous state of super-conscious bliss (ananda), complete with beautiful visions and often involving astral projection. These states could last anywhere from a few minutes to several days and were often accompanied by uncontrollable laughter or weeping. He could send others into this state with a single touch to the head or chest.”10

C. Swami Baba Muktananda would transfer what was called “guru’s grace” to his followers through Shaktipat (physical touch). This “grace” triggered the gradual awakening of the Kundalini, which in turn produced various physical and emotional manifestations. Manifestations included uncontrollable laughing, roaring, barking, hissing, crying, shaking, etc. Some devotees became mute or unconscious. Many felt themselves being infused with feelings of great joy and peace and love. At other times, the “fire” of Kundalini was so overwhelming they would find themselves involuntarily hyperventilating to cool themselves down.11

2) African Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari—The Grofs, in their book The Stormy Search for the Self, also cite an interesting parallel between the Kundalini awakening and the trance dance of the African Kung bushmen. During rituals, the bushmen “enter a profound altered state of consciousness associated with the release of powerful emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear. They are often unable to maintain an upright position and are overcome by violent shaking. Following these dramatic experiences, they typically enter a state of ecstatic rapture. According to the bushmen tradition, the dance releases from the base of the spine a cosmic healing force called ntum or ‘medicine.’ This is then passed by direct physical contact from one person to another.”12

3) Qigong (ancient Chinese practice)—Yan Xin, a Chinese Qigong master known to most of the over one billion people in China, gave a talk in San Francisco in 1991. Seventeen hundred devotees, most of them Chinese, showed up at the Masonic Auditorium to listen to Yan. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that “minutes into his talk, several began experiencing what Yan Xin calls spontaneous movements.” The Chronicle reporter said that “before long, the scene resembled a Pentecostal prayer meeting with many people waving their arms and making unintelligible sounds.” Yan told his audience, “Those who are sensitive might start having some strong physical sensations—or start laughing or crying. Don’t worry. This is quite normal.” The article said that “since 1985, when a Qigong revival started sweeping China, 50 to 60 million Chinese have gone to see Yan.”13

4) Subud—According to The Encyclopedia of American Religions, the central element of the Subud faith is the practice of “latihan.” Latihan is the way one surrenders to the power of God. It is a group process. The Encyclopedia says:

The latihan proper is a time of moving the consciousness beyond mind and desire and allowing the power to enter and do its work . . . often accompanying the spontaneous period are various body movements and vocal manifestations—cries, moans, laughter and singing. These occur in the voluntary surrender of the self to the power. During this time, people report sensations of love and freedom and often, healings. All reach a higher level of consciousness.14

To order copies of FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?,” click here

Endnotes:

  1. You can watch this video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduW9apCP1c.
  2. Charles and Frances Hunter, Holy Laughter, p. 65.
  3. Mona Johnian, Fresh Anointing, p. 35
  4. Ibid., p. 45.
  5. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Teachings from the Inner Christ, p. 79.
  6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, pp. 234-235.
  7. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, pp. 10-11.

Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Meditation/Visualization Language in Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan “Bible Study”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am a member of a Baptist church affiliated with the SBC. My Sunday School class recently began the Not a Fan video Bible study, being supplemented by the Not a Fan journal  [this link is to a sample of the journal] by Kyle Idleman. I was familiar with the book of the same title and the concept (are you a fan or a follower?) but knew little else. I went into the study with an open mind, but quickly called into question the manner in which the author was prompting the reading to “consider” his concepts. By day 2 of the journal, it became clear to me that I would not be continuing. My spirit was utterly grieved by the exercises! I am hopeful that Lighthouse Trails will review this journal and prayerfully consider it. I feel it is dangerous teaching that is delving into contemplative prayer.

Below are some examples I extrapolated from the first 91 pages of the 192 page journal.

Day 1, Noon Reminder:

Try taking five minutes for meditation. Close your eyes and in your mind picture Jesus. Watch Him turn, look at you and hear Him say, “If you would come after me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” Hear Him say these words again and again. Become aware of your reaction to His invitation.

Note: [from the journal] Some of the suggestions, like this one, may sound a bit inane or even non-traditional. We encourage you to try each exercise with an open mind. Give it 100%.

I was immediately adverse to the idea of “imagining” and “awareness.”  It jarred me, but I decided to simply skip past that section and continue on. Fast forward to the “noon reminder” on day 2:

Try repeating this phrase aloud ten times, “Lord Jesus, come interfere in my life.” (Again, this is one of the suggestions that may sound childish or impractical, but what do you have to lose in trying it?)

Matthew 6:7 comes to mind: “And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Here are some other observations I made as I looked deeper into the journal. First, there is a purposeful “convincing” being done to get the reader to participate in these exercises. The 2 examples I gave are just two of MANY. Idleman excuses these exercises as possibly “childish,” “silly,” “crazy,” and “impractical” but encourages the reader to give them a try anyway. When studying the Word of God, these are not words that come to mind or describe what our attitude or experience should be when doing so.

Within the first 91 pages, I have highlighted the word “imagine” countless times. A lot of prompting to visualize is used. There are also several times where it is suggested to repeat words and phrases. The words “meditate” and “meditation” are used frequently as well. The reader is encouraged to focus on their own thoughts, imagine, “picture the destination” (pg. 74), “picture the place you want to end up.” (pg. 74), “pictures Jesus” (pg. 85), “review your day in your mind’s eye” (pg. 50). The author then prompts the reader to jot down thoughts after completing the exercises.
On page 90 it says, “Sit, be still and take in your surroundings. Use your senses to observe everything going on around you.”

The first reference to prayer doesn’t even appear until page 24 and it says this: “Imagine saying your evening prayers to the person you are most likely to put ahead of Jesus.” There is a lot more on visualizations, meditation and being self-aware than there is on prayer!

I am continuing my research on this but am hoping your staff will take a look as well and let me know if my reservations are founded.

Thank You,
J.B.

Update on Warren Smith

As you will recall from a previous post, on Sunday, May 21st, Warren B. Smith suffered a heart attack. We wanted to give an update and also thank the hundreds of people who have e-mailed, called, or left messages on Facebook saying they are praying for Warren. Warren underwent another procedure today, and though he does have some complications after today’s procedure, the doctor is hopeful and optimistic that these will be cleared up in the next day or two. We spoke with Warren and his wife, Joy, today, and they asked us to thank all those who have been praying for him.

 

NEW BOOKLET: 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith

NEW BOOKLET: 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. 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 the content of the booklet. To order copies of 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith, click here.

10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith

By Berit Kjos

In a world where public schools, television, movies, popular music, the Internet, and more all offer tempting counterfeits of what God promises His people, there is only one safe place for our children: in the loving arms of the Shepherd. So train your children “in the way [they] should go” (Proverbs 22:6) so that when they are grown, they will not depart from the faith. The following ten points offer practical and scriptural advice on how to raise your children to know and love the Lord and to continue walking in the faith.

ONE: Be Alert & Always Keep on Praying

Pray! For as Jesus said, “[W]ithout me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). The work to help our children keep their faith begins and ends with prayer. Pray for open and trusting communication with your child. Pray for discernment to detect teaching that contradicts God’s truth. Pray for wisdom to know when to speak up and what to say.

Pray for your child. Pray that he learns to discern error on his own and that he will be bold enough to speak truth with courage and to stand alone when all his friends follow after other gods. Pray that pleasing God will be more important than pleasing teachers and peers.

Pray together as a family. Put on the “whole armour of God” daily. Remember that “having your loins girt about with truth” means more than merely declaring it done. It means reading (or hearing) and following the Word, and knowing it well enough to discern error. Read and discuss Ephesians 6:13-17. Memorize the parts of the armor.

Pray that you might meet other Christian families who understand the times in which we live. Pray for faithful Christian friends for your child. Pray for other parents who will stand with you. When you see the need to get involved in your child’s schooling, pray for direction.

Trust God, not yourself. “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).

TWO: Know What Your Child Is Learning in School

Talk with your child. Listen for clues that help you spot good as well as questionable teaching. Be objective and model appreciation of schools and teachers.

Perhaps you have a child who gladly gives detailed accounts of all events from the time he left for school that morning. My boys preferred to answer all my questions with a brief “Good!” or “Okay.” But I discovered that a tasty snack after school could produce at least five minutes of sharing. When my son was fourteen, a sandwich at a local deli boosted our conversations immensely.

I also found that communication mysteriously wilted when my sons suspected that my motive was cross-examination rather than having fun together or if I kept so busy at home that I couldn’t stop and listen.

If you and your child have been too busy to really listen to each other, it is not too late to begin now. Don’t start by asking a lot of questions about school, especially if you have a teenager. She probably won’t be ready to share openly until she knows she can count on your empathetic response, non-judgmental attitude, and genuine interest in her. If she has found that her sharing produces anxiety, agitation, anger, and an impulsive trip to her teacher resulting in confrontation on any level, she will probably make a point to keep hidden from you most, if not all, questionable information. No child wants to be an accomplice to an emotional or embarrassing confrontation.

Volunteer to assist the teacher in the classroom. You will gain firsthand knowledge as well as easy access to the teacher’s listening ear.

Scan elementary textbooks, take-home papers, and fliers. Check to see if significant facts are deleted or distorted. Consider their effects on your child. Ask yourself the following questions about the above material:

Does it imply that Christianity is unimportant, old-fashioned, or a hindrance to progress? Does it ask your child to discuss his faith in front of the class—thus leaving him open to embarrassment and ridicule? With new proposals for bringing religion back in schools, look carefully at the kinds of religions which are being promoted and ways in which these religions will be taught. It could mean wide open doors to more counterfeits.

Does it present an imbalanced view of Christians? Are pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other Christians denigrated, maligned, and ridiculed—or never described favorably?

Does it emphasize, promote, or give detailed descriptions of other religions, while ignoring Christianity?

Does it require your child’s participation in spiritual exercises?

Does it give instructions in Yoga, meditation, channeling, or guided imagery?

Does it include a blatant pro-homosexual slant?

Does it ask your child not to share information with his parents?

Discuss your findings with your child. Express your appreciation for the good things you see. Explain any area of concern. Teach discernment by pointing out contradictions to God’s truth.

THREE: Share God’s Values With Your Children

Ask God to show you how to communicate in natural age-appropriate ways. The simplest way is to discuss your own personal experiences from God’s perspective during your ordinary encounters—when you sit, walk (or drive), lie down, and get up.

You may want to use the following topics for meal or bedtime discussion or for special family evenings. Choose items appropriate to your children, adjusting the words to their age-level.

Explore the meaning of values:

What does it mean to value something?
What do you value? Least? Most?
What determines your values?
What costs are you willing to pay for what you value? Rejection, teasing, not seeing certain movies?

Discuss what God says about things He loves:

Honoring and obeying parents: Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1
Respecting authority: Romans 13:1
Following God—our highest authority: Acts 5:29; John 10:4
Love: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Forgiving and caring for others: Luke 6:27-36

Discuss what God says about things He hates.

Lying: Proverbs 12:22
Stealing: Matthew 19:18
Cheating: 1 Corinthians 6:8-9
Greed: Luke 12:15
Rudeness and swearing: Ephesians 5:3-5
Proverbs 6:16 has a list of what God hates.

Talk about what would happen if everyone followed this guideline: Do whatever feels right.

I have never asked my children’s opinion about the truth of this value claim [that torture is wrong] and do not intend to do so, just as I never asked them their opinion about the law of gravity. . . . Rather, I teach them the truth of this value and expect them both to believe it and to base their action on it.1—Richard A. Baer, Jr.

FOUR: Train Your Child To Be “Ambassadors” For God

Tell your own experience of standing up for what you believe. Let your children feel your inner battle to choose God’s way. Assure them that you understand their struggles—and that God’s favor is worth far more than peer approval. No matter how we feel, we who belong to Him are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Take time to read together stories about courageous Christians. Nobody outgrows the richness of family reading.

Practice sharing your convictions with each other (1 Peter 3:15-17).

FIVE: Teach Your child to Know God’s Instructions & Warnings

As a family, read Deuteronomy 6-8. Study a portion each day. Write and discuss what He tells you to do and what He promises to do for you. Agree to help each other to follow His guidelines and receive His promises.

Show your child that while charity and respect should be shown to all human beings, the New Age/New Spirituality quest for a global community is based on the evolutionary presumption that man—not God—controls and can save the world.

Show how commitment to truth has its roots in and stems from biblical values. While loving the world’s people, we cannot trust rulers who oppose God and reject His values. One of the most misunderstood and misquoted Scriptures in the Bible is Luke 6:37: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” God is not telling us to close our eyes to evil and tolerate beliefs and behavior that deny Him. Rather He reminds us to have “righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Hinduism teaches New Agers to tune out unpleasant realities. But no amount of creative visualization or individual, group, or collective meditation will even begin to create a perfect world. The fact is that mankind, apart from God, still suffers from a deadly urge to conquer and control.

SIX: Encourage Your Child To Choose the Good

Develop a mindset that seeks the best, not just the “OK.” In the case of toys, you may have identified and rejected the worst toys. But the rest are not necessarily good either. Discuss these questions to help your child learn to choose only the best. When discussing toys and games, phrase the questions according to your child’s age level.

Does it present a true picture of life? In a time when even adults base their lives on counterfeit dreams and false illusions, our children need to learn to tell what is flight of fancy and what is real.

How long would the interest last? Fad toys are fun for the moment, but they whet the appetite for every “in” thing, so that decision-making centers on the question, “What will make me feel happy right now?” Determine not to buy that lie. Unfortunately, many quality toy companies have been bought up or squeezed out by giants who can pay the high price for television promotion. The range of major toy lines is narrowing to those that look glamorous on the screen.

Will this toy be used for playing alone or with others? A child needs a healthy balance of solitary and social play. Good toys will help him interact both with his imaginary world and with the real world, harmonizing the two. That may require some interaction with you. Perhaps you could agree together to find toys that will help you, the parent, participate in your young child’s imaginary world.

Does it build godly character? Many toys, hobbies, and games do.

SEVEN: Train Your Child to Follow God, Not Peers

We want our children to feel good about themselves, be liked by their peers, and not miss out on the fun. But as we realize what their friends choose, we wonder how our children will respond to the peer pressure. How can we prepare them to make wise choices?

Counter peer pressure. Children naturally compare us to the parents of peers, challenging us to match their “generosity.” That hurts, since we want them to feel our love for them. We see what they don’t realize: that always getting what they want will not make them feel secure in our love. It’s more likely to increase their craving and stir discontent. Also, it teaches them to equate love with material things. If your child is old enough, explain this process to him.

Look to the Bible for guidelines and authority. God understands our desires to follow the crowd; He feels our struggle to be “in” the world but not “of it” (John 17:16-18). According to age readiness, review Romans 12:1-2 together and then discuss 3 John 11 and Jude 18-20.

Self-denial seems out of place in a nation consumed with self-indulgence and self-fulfillment. But God commanded it, and Jesus demonstrated it. Dare we refuse to acknowledge it? According to the age of your child, discuss Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24 and then allow the Holy Spirit to direct your application.

Don’t get me wrong. Far more than earthly parents, God wants His children to be happy and have a good time. But He doesn’t want cream puffs to satisfy our hunger and turn us away from the meat of truth. Self-discipline produces the kind of maturity that brings genuine happiness forever, not merely a pleasant moment today.

Our Heavenly Father, who models parenting better than any of us, doesn’t major on the superficial. He knows better than to give us all the things we want. For just as most children will choose pop over milk, and chips over carrots, so do we, as adults, often choose that which cannot satisfy. God does not want vain deceits, as He calls them (Colossians 2:8), to mold our appetites, satisfy our hunger, and replace the very best.

It’s hard to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Wanting to please rather than overreact, we flinch at the thought of having to continually censor our children’s wants, preferences, and desires. Parental authority simply doesn’t fit the fast-spreading new views of social equality taught through the media and the schools. Yet, we must obey God. He has told us to raise our children to choose His way, and we must rise to the occasion, fight the good fight, and not shrink back.

After hearing God’s warning and praying for His wisdom, nine-year-old Alan Brannan decided to throw away all his Pokémon cards. “My friend did the same,” said his mother. “Her twelve-year-old son had been having nightmares. But after a discussion with his parents about the game and its symbols, he was convicted to burn his cards and return his Game Boy game. That night, he slept well for the first time in a month.”

“It seemed to us that these cards had some sort of power,” continued DiAnna Brannan. “Another nine-year-boy had stolen money from his mother’s purse ($7.00) to buy more cards.” When questioned, he confessed and said he had heard the devil urging him to do it. The family quickly gathered in prayer, then saw God’s answer. Both the boy and his little sister burned their cards, warned their friends, and discovered the joy and freedom that only comes from following their Shepherd.

EIGHT: Training Children to Love Good and Resist Evil

Don’t play games with the occult! Ouija Boards have always invited oppression, but they are far more likely to invoke unwanted “spirits” today. So it is with the new generation of occult games and DVDs as well.

I became aware of this change back in the nineties when a Canadian psychologist called me. He had read my book Under the Spell of Mother Earth and wanted to share some observations with me. In past years, he said, many women would come to scenic Alberta to do a Native American “Spirit Quest” in search of their personal “animal spirit.” Few succeeded. But times have changed, and the “spirits” that now answer the summons are numerous as well as oppressive. Treating the scary symptoms as “multiple personality disorders” is no help at all.

Popular occultism is spreading fast, and the “spirit world” has become increasingly more accessible. But few families are equipped to resist it. Contemporary churches offer little or no help. Most simply ignore the danger or endorse the “fun.” To avoid offense, the word evil is dropped from their vocabulary.

The primary victims of this blindness end up being our children. Unless we teach them to recognize and resist these dangers, many will come to embrace the darkness.

Those who love and follow God will be repelled by occult myths. And those who love today’s popular occultism will run from God’s unchanging truths and wise and loving boundaries. For if we are filled with His Spirit and follow His way, we will—by His life in us—“abhor that which is evil: and cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).

The world cringes when it hears these truths because its fiction and fantasies are too enticing. That’s why people find all kinds of arguments to justify their misdirected love.

To prepare your child for daily battles against tempting spiritual counterfeits, consider these three other scriptural portions of vital truths:

The Armor of God—These six truths expose and counter today’s most popular deceptions. Even more important, they show us the way to an intimate relationship with God. (Ephesians 6:13-17)

The Lord’s Prayer—These truths parallel the ones in the armor of God and serve the same purposes. (Matthew 6:9-13)

The Beatitudes—Jesus’ message, recorded in Matthew 5, show us a standard for holiness that is far higher than we can achieve, but it comes with the promise that—by His life in us—He will make us all He intends us to be. It ends with the reminder that those who follow Jesus will also share in His suffering. Therefore, our children need to be prepared for persecution. Uncompromising faith and God’s unchanging truths have become intolerable in today’s postmodern age. (Matthew 5:1-12)

NINE:  Prepare Your Child for a Lifetime of Reading with Discernment

Are children being taught to read discerningly, or do they accept whatever is in print simply because it is in print?

Pray as a family for discernment and wisdom. Don’t let fear of offensive literature keep your family from finding and feasting on wonderful books.

Commit yourself to a deeper knowing of the Word of God. Continue a daily Bible study program together. If children know truth, they will more easily spot the lies.

Enjoy books together that demonstrate God’s values. Read-aloud times build in most children a deep love for reading, while they also enable you to direct your children’s taste for enriching books. “While the average first-grade student reads from a primer with only 350 words, his listening vocabulary approaches 10,000 words, according to the Council for Basic Education.”2
When you read aloud to your children, they learn to associate wholesome books with good times.

A crossless version of Christianity fits the New Age lie that all can be one—with or without Jesus. It denies man’s need for redemption and, in effect, makes man his own savior. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Examine gift books for children. Some of Audrey and Don Wood’s attractive books are filled with enticing New Age magic. Other picture books, like The Witches Handbook by Malcolm Bird, treat witchcraft as a game for all to enjoy.

Check contemporary children’s poetry. While some poems are superb, others are grotesque and macabre.

Check fantasy game books. They make you the hero—but what beliefs do you follow? What mental pictures will your imagination create? As you make decisions appropriate to the story, will occult forces become part of your thinking? Some titles will tip you off—like Seas of Blood and Castle Death—but many others sound deceptively innocuous.

Be alert to what your child’s peers read. Discuss their influence on your child with him. During the winter of 1989, our son’s eighth-grade peers read Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King, master of occult horror.

New kinds of joke books are captivating today’s readers. The object of the humor may be sex, marriage, parents, or God. Some of the illustrations may be pornographic. While we are in dire need of healthy humor, we don’t need to laugh at corruption and delight in immorality. God wants us to love, accept, and forgive each other. But He also tells us to discipline and control our own human nature. Discuss these Scriptures with your child: Leviticus 11:44, 20:26; and Matthew 5:6, 8. Review Romans 12:1-2, 9, and Romans 13:14.

TEN : Leading Your Child to Receive Jesus as Savior and Lord

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:5-7)

How do we lead our children into a lasting and true relationship with Jesus Christ?

Pray that God will prepare their hearts. Spiritual rebirth is God’s work, not ours (John 6:44). We merely cooperate with God’s process, for we are co-laborers with God.

Lay a foundation. Include Jesus in your conversations. Let your children hear you talk to Him. Pray with them. Talk about how He helps you each day. Make comments like, “Jesus understands. He is sad when you are sad. Let’s ask Jesus what He wants us to do.”

Wait for God’s timing. While you watch for signs of openness, be ready for an opportune moment. Perhaps it will come at a time of special need for comfort and strength or when a child shows you by his questions that he genuinely wants to know and follow God.

Explain the basic saving truths. Lead your child through the following steps, and then ask if he wants to pray to receive Jesus. If he says no, tell him he can pray that prayer anytime on his own with the same wonderful results. If your child wants to pray alone, suggest that he come and tell you afterward. Don’t forget the date. Keep it as a most special birthday. Here are some key points to share with your child:

God loves you. He wants you to be part of His special family. He wants you to live with Him in His wonderful heavenly kingdom. “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

By yourself, you can’t come to God. God is holy and perfect and can’t let any sin into His kingdom. Sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Think about the different kinds of sin like selfishness, envy, lying, wanting your own way. Can you be completely free from them? No, you can’t, despite how hard you try.

Jesus made a way for you. He said, “I am the way. . . . no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He died on the Cross, taking the punishment for your sins. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

You must invite Jesus to come and live in you. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). With His perfect life inside, you may live and walk with God forever. Tell your child that his prayer must include confession (understanding and admitting he or she is a sinner), repentance (turn from the direction one is heading, and follow Jesus), faith (trust that Jesus Christ died and rose again to give man eternal life in Him), and the invitation.

Pray something like this: “Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I have sinned against You. I don’t deserve to be Your child. But I believe You died for me to pay for my sins, and you have forgiven me. Please come into my heart. I want you to be Lord and Savior of my life. Thank you.”

To order copies of 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Richard A. Baer, Jr., “Teaching Values in the Schools: Clarification or Indoctrination?” (American Education, January 1982, https://confluence.cornell.edu/download/attachments/11542/Teaching_Values_in_the_Schools.pdf?version=1&modificationDate=1338225531000), p. 18.
2. Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook (New York, NY: Penguin, 1987 edition), p. 40.

The Booklet you have read above is an extract from Berit Kjos’ cutting-edge book, How to Protect Your Child from the New Age & Spiritual Deception. Packed with information and documentation identifying the specific and often subtle elements in today’s society that are impacting our children’s faith and filled with practical and scriptural advice on how we can help our children love and honor the Lord and His Word all the days of their lives.

To order copies of 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith, click here.

Silence—The Language of God? (And Some Folks Promoting it)

By Ray Yungen

For many years during my research, I would come across the term contemplative prayer. Immediately I would dismiss any thought that it had a New Age connotation because I thought it meant to ponder while praying—which would be the logical association with that term. But in the New Age disciplines, things are not always what they seem to be to untrained ears.

What contemplative prayer actually entails is described very clearly by the following writer:

When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness . . . the profound mystical silence . . . an absence of thought.1

To my dismay, I discovered this “mystical silence” is accomplished by the same methods used by New Agers to achieve their silence—the mantra and the breath! Contemplative prayer is the repetition of what is referred to as a prayer word or sacred word until one reaches a state where the soul, rather than the mind, contemplates God. Contemplative prayer teacher and Zen master Willigis Jager brought this out when he postulated:

Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist. Simply “sound” the word silently, letting go of all feelings and thoughts.2

Those with some theological training may recognize this teaching as the historical stream going back centuries to such figures as Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich.
One of the most well-known writings on the subject is the classic 14th century treatise, The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous author. It is essentially a manual on contemplative prayer inviting a beginner to:

Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . . With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.3

The premise here is that in order to really know God, mysticism must be practiced—the mind has to be shut down or turned off so that the cloud of unknowing where the presence of God awaits can be experienced. Practitioners of this method believe that if the sacred words are Christian, you will get Christ—it is simply a matter of intent even though the method is identical to occult and Eastern practices.

So the question we as Christians must ask ourselves is, “Why not? Why shouldn’t we incorporate this mystical prayer practice into our lives?” The answer to this is actually found in Scripture.

While certain instances in the Bible describe mystical experiences, I see no evidence anywhere of God sanctioning man-initiated mysticism. Legitimate mystical [supernatural] experiences were always initiated by God to certain individuals for certain revelations and was never based on a method for the altering of consciousness. In Acts 11:5, Peter fell into a trance while in prayer. But it was God, not Peter, who initiated the trance and facilitated it.

By definition, a mystic, on the other hand, is someone who uses rote methods in an attempt to tap into their inner divinity. Those who use these methods put themselves into a trance state outside of God’s sanction or protection and thus engage in an extremely dangerous approach. Besides, nowhere in the Bible are such mystical practices prescribed. For instance, the Lord, for the purpose of teaching people a respect for His holiness and His plans, instated certain ceremonies for His people (especially in the Old Testament). Nonetheless, Scripture contains no reference in which God promoted mystical practices. The gifts of the Spirit spoken of in the New Testament were supernatural in nature but did not fall within the confines of mysticism. God bestowed spiritual gifts without the Christian practicing a method beforehand to get God’s response.

Proponents of contemplative prayer would respond with, What about Psalms 46:10? “Be still, and know that I am God.” This verse is often used by those promoting contemplative prayer. On the surface, this argument can seem valid, but once the meaning of “still” is examined, any contemplative connection is expelled. The Hebrew meaning of the word is to slacken, cease, or abate. In other words, the context is to slow down and trust God rather than get in a dither over things. Relax and watch God work. Reading the two verses just before Psalms 46:10 puts it in an entirely different light from that proposed by mystics:

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

This isn’t talking about going into some altered state of consciousness!

It should also be pointed out that being born again, in and of itself, is mystical. But it is a direct act of God, initiated by Him—the Holy Spirit has regenerated the once-dead spirit of man into a living spirit through Christ. Yet, we notice that even in this most significant of experiences when one is “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24), God accomplishes this without placing the individual in an altered state of consciousness.

We can take this a step further by looking at the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts, chapter 2 where those present were “all filled with the Holy Ghost” (vs. 4). Notice that they were “all with one accord in one place” (vs. 1) when the Holy Spirit descended on them. From the context of the chapter, it is safe to assume this was a lively gathering of believers engaged in intelligent conversation. Then, when those present began to speak in other tongues, it was not an episode of mindless babbling or vain repetition as in a mantra. Rather it was an event of coherent speech significant enough to draw a crowd who exclaimed, “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (vs. 11). Other observers who suspected they were in an altered state of consciousness said, “These men are full of new wine” (vs. 13). Notice that Peter was quick to correct this group in asserting that they were all fully conscious. Would it not then stand to reason that their minds were not in any kind of altered state? Next, Peter delivered one of the most carefully articulated speeches recorded in Scripture. This was certainly not a group of men in a trance.

So, through the lens of perhaps the two most meaningful mystical experiences recorded in the New Testament (i.e., being born again and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost), an altered state of consciousness was never sought after nor was it achieved. In fact, a complete search of both Old and New Testaments reveals there were only two types of experiences sanctioned by God where the recipient is not fully awake—namely dreams and visions—and in each case the experience is initiated by God. Conversely, every instance of a self-induced trance recorded in Scripture is adamantly condemned by God as we see summarized in the following verses:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11)

An examination of the Hebrew meanings of the terms used in the above verses shows that much of what is being spoken of is the invoking of spells. And a spell, used in this context, refers to a trance. In other words, when God induces a trance it is in the form of a dream or a vision. When man induces a trance, it is in the form of a spell or hypnosis.

And remember, nowhere in the Bible is the silence equated with the “power of God,” but the “preaching of the cross” (I Corinthians 1:18) most certainly is!

Endnotes:

1. William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives, p. 13.
2. Willigis Jager, Contemplation: A Christian Path, p. 31.
3. Ken Kaisch, Finding God, cited from The Cloud of Unknowing, p. 223.

Some People Who Are Promoting the “Silence”

“What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.”–Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words”

“I do not believe anyone can ever become a deep person [intimate with God] without stillness and silence.”–Charles Swindoll, So You Want To Be Like Christ? Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There, p. 65“The basic method promoted in The Cloud is to move beyond thinking into a place of utter stillness with the Lord … the believer must first achieve a state of silence and contemplation, and then God works in the believer’s heart.”–Tony Jones, The Sacred Way, p. 15

“Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence…. It is this recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer.–Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 155

“It is through silence that you find your inner being.”–Vijay Eswaran, In the Sphere of Silence, excerpt from website.

“This book [In the Sphere of Silence] is a wonderful guide on how to enter the realm of silence and draw closer to God.”–New Age sympathizer, Ken Blanchard

“[G]o into the silence for guidance”–New Ager, Wayne Dyer, ATOD p. 18 (from interview with Wayne Dyer, Portland, OR., 3/27/97)

“While we are all equally precious in the eyes of God, we are not all equally ready to listen to ‘God’s speech in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all embracing silence.’”–Richard Foster, Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 156.

“When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness … the profound mystical silence … an absence of thought.” –Thomas Merton biographer, William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives, p. 13.

“In the silence is a dynamic presence. And that’s God, and we become attuned to that.”–Interspiritualist, Wayne Teasdale, Michael Tobias, “A Parliament of Souls in Search of a Global Spirituality” (KQED Inc., San Francisco, CA, 1995), p. 148.

“One of the great things silence does, it gives us a new concept of God.” – Calvin Miller, from Be Still DVD

“God’s Word is so clear that if we are not still before Him, we will never truly know, to the depths of the marrow in our bones, that He is God. There has got to be a stillness. We’ve got to have a time to sit before Him and just know that He is. We live in such an attention-deficit culture, and we’re so entirely over stimulated, so much coming at us at once, one image after another, that if we are not careful, we are going to lose the art of meditation.” Beth Moore, from Be Still DVD

“Kierkegaard, probably the greatest Protestant Christian mind of all time, said … “If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence.”–Peter Kreeft, from Be Still DVD

“To be still means not only that you make a time to sit with God, but a time for your mind and your heart to be still also. Then God can meet you and fill you with His presence and His Word.”–Henry Cloud (CCN) from Be Still DVD, “Being Still: Helpful Hints with Dr. Henry Cloud”

“What does stillness really mean? Is stillness just something physical? Or is it mental? Is it spiritual? Is it emotional? There’s so many levels of stillness that we need to practice. And know. Be still and know. Know what? You know, there’s something that comes with the assurance of being still. You’re no longer practicing or exerting effort.” Michelle McKinney Hammond, from Be Still DVD, “Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between God and Man”

“[S]ilence is one of the great spiritual disciplines. And in fact you’re not going to get very far in contemplative prayer unless you know how to be silent. And by that I mean that you really are comfortable with it and you’re practiced in it.” Dallas Willard, Be Still DVD, “Fear of Silence”

“First, you must remember that when you go into solitude and silence, your basic goal is to do nothing. Yes, nothing!”–J.P. Moreland, “How Spiritual Disciplines Work: Solitude and Silence as Spiritual Disciplines”

“It is to this silence [contemplative prayer] that we all are called.”–Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart, p. 66.

“God’s first language is silence.”–panentheist monk Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God, p. 153.

ANTHONY DEMELLO EXPLAINS HOW TO GO INTO THIS SILENCE THAT SO MANY TALK ABOUT–WITH THE MANTRA:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28.

Letters to the Editor: Anne Graham Lotz Promoting Circle Making

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails  has received a number of e-mails in the last few days (see two of them below) regarding the issue of Anne Graham Lotz promoting circle making recently. This is taken from emerging church leader Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker.  Please read 2 articles we have on circle making: The Circle Makers by Cedric Fisher and The Native Spirituality “Medicine Wheel” and The Circle Maker  by Cree author Nanci Des Gerlaise. Also, in an article Lighthouse Trails wrote in 2008, we stated:

Billy Graham, and his son Franklin, will be speaking at the upcoming Catalyst Conference on October 8-9 [2008]. Possibly, the father/son Grahams are not aware of the teachings and the spirituality that the Catalyst Conference represents. Unfortunately, Catalyst will gain respect and audience by many trusting and unaware admirers of the Grahams for including them on their list of speakers.

One of this year’s speakers is Mark Batterson [author of The Circle Maker], lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. Batterson . . . points readers on his website to Eckhart Tolle, a New Age guru who is currently being heralded by Oprah Winfrey. Batterson says that Tolle’s book, Practicing the Power of Now, is “instrumental in the way I think about life.” His public recommended reading list also includes several other New Agers and mystics: Jack Canfield, New Age mystic Daniel Goleman (The Meditative Mind), mantra-meditation promoter Gary Thomas (Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways), Leonard Sweet, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, and several others who fall in the New Age and/or emerging/contemplative camp.

We hope those readers who turn to Anne Graham Lotz for spiritual teaching will contact her ministry and tell her about the problems with her promoting this emergent/New Age technique of “circle making.” In 2011, Lighthouse Trails contacted her ministry and sent her some materials regarding contemplative spirituality and the emerging church after learning that she and Kay Arthur would be sharing a platform with emergent leader Tony Campolo. We received a letter of thanks from her ministry for the materials but never heard whether she read them or not.

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I had heard that Ann Graham Lotz would be putting forth a prayer for America for 2016.  I just googled it and was literally appalled and sickened! What is going on??  WHERE is the discernment, even of those who have walked with the Lord for years?  Or maybe I’m wrong. Below are the first few paragraphs of her prayer — you can google the rest if you wish and come to your own conclusions.  However, Lighthouse Trails even has a few articles on this very subject.  (And who is “Honi”??)

E.C.

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I was very shocked when I read [Ann Graham Lotz’s] letter that she has sent out to her newsletter list.  It includes some very strange and disturbing material from the book, “The Circle Maker.”  I read the description of this book on Amazon when it was released and dismissed it as more New Age drivel and did not consider it Christian or biblically based material.

When I read that Ann is promoting this book and its story of a Jewish sage drawing a circle and asking God to bring rain, my radar went up.  With a quick google look up on “prayer circles,”  I confirmed that this is indeed an occultic practice and used in witchcraft.  After then watching a video of the author explain his teaching, which I found on youtube, I was pretty shocked by what I heard.  It is pretty obviously not biblical.  Why do we need to invite God into a circle we draw when God is everywhere?? It was very easy to find this information out, and it is so strange to me why she would be promoting this formula, which is basically a spell.

M.K.

EXCERPT FROM ANN GRAHAM LOTZ:

Preprayer 2016

Pray with me today for one hour… as together we fast and Preprayer for the NEW YEAR.

* Please click here to listen to Anne pray this prayer.

The unmistakable sound of the Shofar could be heard coming from the wall surrounding Jerusalem, echoing across the sun-scorched valley. The blowing of the trumpet heralded great public distress and was used to summon the people.  It was the first century B.C. and a severe drought was threatening the very existence of the city.  So the city elders called for the people to gather outside the city walls.  Then they sent for Honi.

Honi was an old man who, after this day, became known as the Circle-Drawer. Because when he was summoned, the elders asked him, “Pray that rain may fall.” Honi prayed, but nothing happened.  So he drew a circle around himself in the dust of the ground, and prayed again, “O Lord of the world, Your children have turned their faces to me… I swear by Your great name that I will not stir from here until You have pity on Your children.”

The rain began to fall, one large drop at a time.  But Honi protested, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill the cisterns, pits, and caverns.”

In answer to his prayer, the heavens opened and the waters descended in a violent gully-washer that threatened to flood the city.  So once again, Honi pleaded, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of goodwill, blessing and graciousness.”  It is said, and recorded by the Jewish historian, Josephus, that in response to Honi’s third prayer, a long, soaking rain began to fall that ended the three-year drought. [1] Honi had prevailed in prayer.[2]

As I look ahead into 2016, I feel compelled to draw a circle around this city, this state, this nation…and pray!  Until God answers. Do the same. Please.  On this first day of the New Year, draw your own circle.  Then pray for everything that’s inside of it.

Nevada’s Interspiritual Scene – “Faith Leaders” Pray to the “Gods” For Rain

LTRP Note: Out of House News Source posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement.

PRLog (Press Release) Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and other faith leaders participated in a joint prayer service in Nevada on February one afternoon urging for divine intervention in view of persistent drought conditions in Western USA.

Held at Mormon Chapel in Sparks, this Service included religious leaders from Roman Catholic, First Congregational Church of Reno, Northern Nevada Muslim Community, Universal Society of Hinduism, Reno Buddhist Center, North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation & Temple Beth Or, Baha’i community, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), International Community of Christ, Unification Church and Circle’s Edge Center for Spiritual Living;  who prayed in their respective traditions seeking God’s blessings for rain and snow to help farmers, ranchers and others. Sparks Mayor Geno R. Martini also participated and delivered his words of support. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Texas Wesleyan University Offers Prayer Room for Muslim Students

Tony Blair and World Leaders Look for Answers to Terrorism – Missing the Only Answer


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