Posts Tagged ‘Warren B. Smith’
Contemporary Christian Musical Artists Say: We Will Stand “United”——With New Age Sympathizer Roma Downey?
On January 21st, about 30 of contemporary Christian music’s most well-known singers from the last four decades will be joining New Age sympathizer and devout Roman Catholic Roma Downey for a special live online concert called “We Will Stand.” The concert is being presented by CCM United and has a motto of “One Message, Many Voices.'” According to an article titled “We Are United: The Story Behind ‘The Greatest Night In Contemporary Christian Music,’” there could be over a million viewers with a potential reach globally of 40 million.
A CCM United personnel told a Lighthouse Trails researcher in an e-mail that Downey will be opening the concert and will “make other stage appearances.” Sponsors of the event include the Southern Baptist resource arm, LifeWay Christian Resources, Voice of the Martyrs, and Compassion International. Artists include: Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Don Moen, Mark Schultz, Sandi Patti, Travis Cotrell (Beth Moore’s worship leader), Love Song, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, Dallas Holm, The Imperials, Nicole Mullen and many others.
It is a sad state of affairs when a concert, billed as “the greatest night in the history of contemporary Christian music,” uses a highly New Age- and Catholic-influenced celebrity to help open and close the event, which is basically making a statement to viewers as well as the church at large that Christianity is compatible with all beliefs. But after all, the cry of today’s “new” Christian is unity, unity, unity, with all faiths and at any cost. This concert illustrates the terrible breach in discernment that is happening in Christianity today.
Lighthouse Trails may be writing a follow up report after the concert, which takes place online on January 21st. In the meantime, these 10 points below are 10 reasons why musicians who call themselves Christians should not be sharing a platform with Roma Downey.
10 Important Things to Consider About Roma Downey’s Spiritual Affinities:
1. Roma is a devout Roman Catholic who, among other Catholic rituals, prays to Mary, as she describes in this video. Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus.
2. Roma Downey endorsed a 2010 New Age book titled Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick (published by the New Age publisher, Hay House), Downey endorses the book saying:
As a USM [ University of Santa Monica – a New Age metaphysical school] graduate, I know firsthand the value I received from participating with Ron and Mary in the Master’s degree Program in Spiritual Psychology. I am so grateful to have Loyalty to Your Soul to sweetly remind me of all I have learned. Let’s just say that I went from playing an angel on TV to living more of an angelic life every day. The teachings in this beautiful book have sent me on a journey to the very center of my own being where, wrapped in the safe wings of Love, I feel as though I have come home.
Downey’s endorsement in the Hulnick’s book is nestled in with full-blown New Agers like Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joan Borysenko, and Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic). (By the way, Neale Donald Walsch, the New Ager who said that Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them,(1) wrote the foreword to Loyalty to Your Soul.) Clearly, Downey read this book and resonates deeply with it to say what she did about it. To get an idea of this “journey” that Downey is on, listen to a few quotes from Loyalty to Your Soul:
Center your awareness in your heart and consciously look for the Loving Essence in the person in your presence. By doing so, you’re signifying your respect for the Soul before you . . . Maintain awareness that you’re in conversation with another Divine Being who is engaged in having a human experience. (p. 209)
We ask for the presence, protection, guidance, and Love of the Divine Beings [spirit guides] who work with each of us. (from the “Invocation” – emphasis added)
When people speak of spirituality, they simply mean awareness of the sacred reality of the Divine Essence within and beyond all creation. (p. 8, quoting favorably a New Age “spiritual teacher”)
You begin to recognize others as Divine Beings, and the situations and circumstances of your life as learning devices. (p. 31)
Those familiar with New Age teachings will recognize such statements as being the core essence of the occult (that man is divine) and that there are spirit guides who help us through life. Loyalty to Your Soul is a contemporary version of A Course in Miracles (the New Age book Warren B. Smith talks about in his biography, The Light That Was Dark).
3. Roma Downey also endorsed a 2008/2011 book called Angels in My Hair: the true story of a modern day Irish mystic by Lorna Bryne. The book is about spirit guides in people’s lives.
4. Roma Downey graduated in 2010 from the University of Santa Monica’s Spiritual Psychology Program. The school was founded by the late New Age spiritualist guru John-Roger Hinkins in 1971 (who also founded the Movement of Spiritual Awareness). Hinkins claimed to have had a spirit guide named Mystic Traveler. Today, University of Santa Monica is considered a New Age/metaphysical university. Some teaching points(2) from USM’s Spiritual Psychology program (the program is one of just three degree programs offered at the school):
a. ” If you are interested in really growing as a person and awakening more fully to your Divinity—take this course” (emphasis added).
b. “Soul-centered co-creation [a term used in New Age to signify our equality with God].”
c. “Spiritual Awakening. Designed to provide a practical working knowledge of, and appreciation for, the “giants” in the field of psychology, including Rogers, Perls, Ellis, and [Roberto] Assagioli [a world-famous occultist].”
d. “The Buddhas and the Christs are born complete.(3)
5. In 2010, Roma Downey did a “meditation” CD for psychic medium John Edward’s 2010 book Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance Your Life (see video of John Edwards). As of Jan. 17, 2015, John Edward’s is still selling the Practical Praying book advertising Roma Downey’s CD meditation contribution. John Edward is best known for his psychic TV show in which he talked to the dead. Downey has been on his show and allowed him to channel her mother.
6. New Age actress and ordained minister of a New Thought church, Della Reese, plays a significant role in Downey’s life. In addition to Reese teaming with Downey for 9 years in the popular TV series Touched by an Angel, Reese is Downey’s daughter’s godmother and also officiated at the wedding of Downey and Mark Burnett.
7. Downey has been on the Oprah Show to promote her and her husband’s production Son of God. Oprah is the most influential New Ager today.
8. Downey and Burnett are proponents of Tony Robbins, a prolific New Ager. “For 25 years, Hollywood power producer Mark Burnett has applied Tony’s strategies to his life. This past year, he decided it was time to invite his wife, Roma Downey, and their 3 children to share in an experience they won’t forget.”(4)
9. Downey resonates with Eckhart Tolle, another very prolific New Age author and teacher. Warren B. Smith has written about Tolle and his New Age/New Spirituality views. One article about Downey quotes her as saying: “My kids go to school about a 40-minute drive away. I’m open to the group’s opinion about what we listen to on the way there. On the way back, I get my own selections—books on tape by Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins . . . My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating'” (First for Women magazine, 03/31/14, pp. 44-45). To get an idea of what Eckhart Tolle believes, listen to a quote by him:
Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute ‘Christ’ for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God-essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence. – (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, p. 104)
10. Former New Age followers Caryl Matrisciana, Johanna Michaelsen, and Warren B. Smith have renounced and repudiated their former New Age beliefs and have even written books warning others about the New Age. On the contrary, Roma Downey has never renounced her New Age involvement and continues to promote it in one form or another. Interestingly (and significantly), Lighthouse Trails author Greg Reid personally handed Roma Downey a copy of Warren B. Smith’s book, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace at the 2014 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention right after she finished premiering The Son of God movie. Roma Downey is in a perfect position to warn the church about the New Age, but rather she is bringing the New Age into the church. Greg Reid capsulates this situation well:
Roma and Mark’s open door credentials to the evangelical church is that they are committed Catholics. That, and the movies themselves, were apparently proof enough to the higher leadership of the evangelical churches to give them carte blanche. They have been, 100%, embraced as one of us.
NO ONE has asked the crucial questions: Is Jesus the only way to God? Do we all have the “Christ spirit?” Are we all Divine? Is the Bible the infallible Word of God? Knowing that the Bible forbids necromancy, are you sorry you worked with John Edward? Is what you learned from John-Roger’s University compatible with your Christian faith? Unless Roma and Mark have gone through a massive conversion since last year, then they are still the same people who listen to audio books by New Age Gurus Ekhart Tolle and Tony Robbins, and who follow a brand of spirituality that is so strong that, as Mark said of Roma, “You’re so self-realized you’re practically levitating.”
Why are none of these questions being asked? If we didn’t know, now we do. If leaders DID know and chose to ignore it, or considered these things “little differences,” then God forgive us for our spiritual blindness and willingness to let crucial spiritual darkness enter in for the sake of a movie they think will lead the masses to Christ. (from Reid’s article Son of God—Trojan Horse)
Note: Warren B. Smith interviewed with Amy Spreeman from Stand Up For the Truth radio this week on this topic. You can listen to it below.
FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?” by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?,” click here
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
- You can watch this video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduW9apCP1c.
- Charles and Frances Hunter, Holy Laughter, p. 65.
- Mona Johnian, Fresh Anointing, p. 35
- Ibid., p. 45.
- Barbara Marx Hubbard, Teachings from the Inner Christ, p. 79.
- Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, pp. 234-235.
- Barbara Marx Hubbard, Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, pp. 10-11.
To order copies of FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?,” click here
See Kevin Reeves book The Other Side of the River.
1. Rick Warren, Religious Liberty, and Catholics and Evangelicals Together by Roger Oakland
3. Powerful Radio Interview: Jan Markell Interviews Patrick Crough – Children Who Fall Victim to Sexual Predators & the Story of One Boy by Jan Markell and Patrick Crough
6. Are We Heading Towards Tyranny? By Maria Kneas
The New Age Implications of Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The New Age Implications of Jesus Calling, click here
Jesus Calling: The New Age Implications
In my book “Another Jesus” Calling, I describe many problems regarding Sarah Young’s best-selling book Jesus Calling. In particular, there are some serious New Age implications to what her “Jesus” is presenting in his “messages” to Young and her countless readers. Nevertheless, Laura Minchew, a Senior Vice-President at Thomas Nelson publishers, adamantly defends Jesus Calling and defiantly denies that the book has any New Age implications. She told World Net Daily, “I will tell you that should anyone hint of New Age teachings in Jesus Calling, they would be sorely misinformed.1
But Minchew’s statement is both ironic and untrue. It is ironic because even as she was issuing her denial, Thomas Nelson editors were busy deleting some of the very New Age material in question. I’m not sure what Laura Minchew’s understanding of the New Age is, but as a former New Ager, I can assure you there are many New Age implications—both direct and indirect—in Jesus Calling In this booklet, I am going to present ten of them.
New Age Implications: Ten Examples
1) The New Age Book God Calling
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sarah Young said she was inspired to receive “messages” from “Jesus” after reading the book God Calling. She stated:
My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they “listened.” About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. . . . So I decided to “listen” to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying.2
Unfortunately, Sarah Young and her Thomas Nelson editors missed the fact that God Calling is a channeled New Age book. The “messages” received by the two women appear to be legitimate to the undiscerning reader because they are presented in the form of a daily devotional. Ironically, God Calling could have been titled Jesus Calling because its messages were reputedly dictated by “The Living Christ Himself.”3 It is worth noting that Jesus Calling is similarly titled and similarly presents its reputed “messages” from “Jesus” in the form of a daily devotional.
In The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs published by Harvest House Christian publishers, authors John Weldon and John Ankerberg provide ample evidence as to why God Calling is a channeled New Age book. In their chapter on channeling—under the subheading of “Impersonations of Christianity”—the two respected apologists describe God Calling as a book “replete with denials of biblical teaching”4 as it “subtly encourages psychic development and spiritistic inspiration under the guise of Christ’s personal guidance . . . and often misinterprets Scripture.”5 Citing a number of passages in God Calling that are unbiblical and have New Age implications, the two authors explain that channeling is a form of occult mediumship and according to the Bible “is a practice forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).”6 Yet Sarah Young stated it was God Calling that inspired her to receive her own “messages” from “Jesus.” In her original introduction to Jesus Calling, Young went out of her way to praise God Calling as “a treasure to me.”7 Sadly, her lofty endorsement greatly popularized this New Age book within mainstream Christianity. As a result, God Calling is now commonly found in great numbers in various editions in both secular and Christian bookstores. In fact, it is often shelved alongside Jesus Calling.
Note: Young’s only response to criticism of God Calling has been to quietly remove all her previous references to God Calling from the new editions of Jesus Calling. No explanations. No apologies. No anything. Like the missing 18½ minutes from Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes, God Calling has disappeared from the pages of Young’s book.
2) Channeled “Messages” from “Jesus”
Ruth Graham, writing about Jesus Calling in The Daily Beast—a popular online news organization formerly associated with Newsweek magazine—reported that Thomas Nelson had specifically requested that she not use the word “channeling” to describe how Sarah Young was receiving her “messages” from “Jesus.” Graham wrote:
Thomas Nelson specifically requested I not use the word “channeling” to describe Young’s first-person writing in the voice of Jesus—the word has New Age connotations—but it’s hard to avoid it in describing the book’s rhetorical approach.8
In Jesus Calling, Young writes that “Jesus” told her “to be a channel of My loving Presence.”9 Obliging his request, her book is filled with channeled “messages” and “directives” she claims to have received from God. In her original introduction, she wrote:
I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him. The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator.10 (emphasis added)
Regarding this type of spiritualism, Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word “channel” as follows: “to serve as a medium for (a spirit).”11 It defines the word “directive” as “a general instruction or order issued authoritatively.”12 And by Sarah Young’s own description in her original introduction, this is exactly what she is doing—being “a channel” for “encouraging directives” from a spiritual “Presence” that presents itself as “Jesus.” After receiving these “messages” and “directives,” she arranged them in the form of a daily devotional—just like God Calling.
Note: The paragraph cited above—where Young originally described how she has “continued to receive personal messages from God” and “encouraging directives” from her “Creator”—has been completely removed from the new editions of Jesus Calling.13
Sarah Young engaged in the occult/New Age practice of “visualization” when she “pictured” her family “encircled by God’s protective Presence.”
One morning as I prayed, I visualized God protecting each of us. I pictured first our daughter, then our son, and then Steve encircled by God’s protective Presence, which looked like golden light. When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God’s Presence in this powerful way.14 (emphasis added)
In the same Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs that described God Calling as a channeled New Age book, a specific chapter on visualization warns about the spiritual dangers of this New Age practice:
“Visualization” and “guided imagery” have long been recognized by sorcerers of all kinds as the most powerful and effective methodology for contacting the spirit world in order to acquire supernatural power, knowledge, and healing. Such methods are neither taught nor practiced in the Bible as helps to faith or prayer.15
Sarah Young just assumed that the “light” she visualized enveloping her family and herself was from God. But one cannot assume anything in regards to spiritual experiences and spiritual encounters—especially after engaging in the occult practice of visualization. Because “many false prophets are gone out into the world,” we are told to “try the spirits” to see “whether they are of God (1 John 4:1). The apostle Paul warned of deceptive “seducing spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1) and how Satan can come as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Also, Jesus specifically warned us to beware of a light that appears to be light but is actually darkness (Luke 11:35).
Note: Recent editions of Jesus Calling have attempted to subtly demystify Sarah Young’s mystical New Age “prayer” process. The phrase “looked like golden light” and the trance-like sentence “I lost all sense of time as I experienced God’s Presence in this powerful way” have both been deleted from recent editions of Jesus Calling.16 However, even with these deletions, Young—at least for now—continues to include her visualized prayer in the newer editions of Jesus Calling.
Jesus Calling readers are led to equate Sarah Young’s contemplative prayer process with biblical meditation. But to “make your mind like a still pool of water” as you passively wait “to receive whatever thoughts” Young’s “Jesus” may “drop into it” is much more akin to Eastern/New Age meditation. Biblical meditation, if you will, is an active attentiveness and thinking upon Scripture. Eastern/New Age meditation is more subjective and open to spiritual suggestion. In his August 5th message, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” promotes this New Age form of meditation and contemplative prayer:
Make your mind like a still pool of water, ready to receive whatever thoughts I drop into it.17
Stilling and quieting one’s mind may seem to be peaceful and godly, but passively stilling the mind (i.e., putting the mind in neutral) can provide an opening for seducing spirits to communicate with an undiscerning meditator—all in the name of “Jesus,” “God,” and the “Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:27, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Corinthians 11:4). Sarah Young describes how she receives these “thoughts” as “messages” and “directives” as she meditates on “Jesus”:
I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him. The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator.18 (emphasis added)
But this kind of spiritual activity is not scriptural, and it is not biblical meditation. This is Eastern/New Age meditation. This type of meditation is what New Age channelers do to make contact with the spirit world.
Note: It bears repeating that the above paragraph containing the words “meditate,” “messages,” and “directives” has been deleted from recent editions of Jesus Calling.
5) New Age Terminology
Throughout Jesus Calling, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” casually introduces New Age terminology in his channeled messages. Not that long ago terms like co-create,19 divine alchemy,20 Love-Light,21 Light-bearer,22 supernatural plane,23 living channel,24 paradigm shift,25 true self,26 ultimate reality,27 universal presence,28 etc., were sure indicators of someone’s metaphysical/New Age orientation. But now these terms are commonly found in “Christian” books like Jesus Calling and are rapidly becoming part of the everyday language of the church.
Sarah Young’s “Jesus” also makes indirect reference to two of the mega best-selling New Age books of the last thirty years—Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb and M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. Young’s “Jesus” invites her millions of readers to “go out on a limb” with him and to take “a road less traveled”:
Be willing to go out on a limb with Me.29
You, however, have been called to take a “road less traveled.”30
Note: Obviously, these two phrases can be used in other contexts. However, the true Jesus Christ is quite aware of these groundbreaking New Age books, and it defies reason that He would make any reference—direct or indirect—to these hugely popular metaphysical books. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). And He is not going to introduce anything that might stumble someone—like nonchalantly referring to two New Age books that have already stumbled the millions of people who have read them and been influenced by them. (1 Corinthians 8:9).
6) Divine Alchemy
Regarding other overlapping New Age terminology in Jesus Calling, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” states:
I can glean Joy out of sorrow, Peace out of adversity. Only a Friend who is also the King of kings could accomplish this divine alchemy.31
However, the term “divine alchemy” is an ancient, mystical, occult/New Age term that raises multiple spiritual concerns. The word “occult” is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as follows:
. . . designating or of certain alleged mystic arts, such as magic, alchemy, astrology, etc.32 (emphasis added)
The Oxford Classical Dictionary underscores the fact that the “art” of alchemy has serious New Age implications. The very first sentence of the definition states:
Alchemy in antiquity was a mixture of chemical, metallurgical, and glass technology, Greek philosophy, mystical and syncretist religion, and astrology.33 (emphasis added)
The same Oxford Dictionary explains the occult/New Age underpinnings of alchemy itself:
The art is distinguished from the pure science of chemistry by its mixture of mystical and magical elements with the technology . . . Alchemy in late antiquity was born of the confluence of three streams: (1) technology . . . (2) theory . . . (3) occult religion.34 (emphasis added)
By Googling divine alchemy on the Internet, one will see countless references to the occult. The term divine alchemy is frequently found in the teachings of New Age leaders such as Marianne Williamson. She uses the term divine alchemy to reference the same practice of meditation Sarah Young’s “Jesus” is advocating. She writes:
Meditation is time spent with God in silence and quiet listening. It is the time during which the Holy Spirit has a chance to enter into our minds and perform His divine alchemy.35 (emphasis added)
The Oxford Classical Dictionary describes the origin of alchemy and how it is linked to other occult sciences:
The inventor was said to be Hermes [Trismegistus], and alchemy is linked with other occult sciences in the Hermetic literature of the first three centuries A.D., along with neo-Pythagorean, Neoplatonic, and Gnostic ideas.36
Note: Once again, it is inconceivable that the true Jesus Christ would ever use a term like divine alchemy that is so highly identified with the occult. This is yet one more troublesome New Age aspect to Jesus Calling and one more reason to question the validity of Sarah Young’s “Jesus.”
Sarah Young’s “Jesus” also introduces the key New Age concept of “co-creation.” This is a New Age evolutionary concept that falsely teaches that because man is God, he can therefore co-create with God. But man is not God.
The New Age “Christ” has a plan. He is promising the world that Armageddon can be avoided and world peace can be achieved if everyone collaborates and “co-creates” with him. Speaking through top New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard in her book The Revelation, the New Age “Christ” uses the terms co-create, co-creation, co-creative, co-creator, and co-creatorship over 100 times. This is because co-creation is a key element in the New Age Christ’s counterfeit plan of salvation for Planet Earth. At one point Hubbard’s “Christ” states:
Here we are, now poised either on the brink of destruction greater than the world has ever seen—a destruction which will cripple planet Earth forever and release only the few to go on—or on the threshold of global co-creation wherein each person on Earth will be attracted to participate in his or her own evolution to godliness.37 (emphasis added)
New Age author Neale Donald Walsch has been taking spiritual dictation from his New Age “God” for many years now. Soon after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, “God,” speaking through Walsch, proclaimed that “the era of the Single Savior is over.” He said:
Yet let me make something clear. The era of the Single Savior is over. What is needed now is joint action, combined effort, collective co-creation.38 (emphasis added)
In Jesus Calling, Young’s “Jesus” introduces the idea of co-creation in conjunction with the term “collaborating.” Webster’s New World Dictionary’s sole definition of a collaborationist is “a person who cooperates with an enemy invader.”39 Sarah Young’s “Jesus” plays right into this New Age collaboration when he talks of humanity collaborating and co-creating with him:
This is a very practical way of collaborating with Me. I, the Creator of the universe, have deigned to co-create with you.40 (emphasis added)
Co-creation is a crucial New Age concept that entails the necessity of man recognizing he is God and then acting as God to affirm, visualize, envision, and to ultimately co-create with God a positive peaceful future. Thus, there is a definite overlap of terms as Sarah Young’s “Jesus” similarly teaches that humanity can partner with God through the co-creation process. Barbara Marx Hubbard’s New Age “Christ” refers to a future world peace that can be visualized and co-created by mankind. This co-created world peace is referred to as the “alternative to Armageddon.”41 But the prophet Jeremiah warned about a peace that seems to heal but is, in reality, no peace at all (Jeremiah 8:11).
Note: This “alternative to Armageddon” peace process is described by New Age leaders as an important part of God’s Dream for the world. Not surprisingly, “God’s Dream” is another New Age concept that is introduced in Jesus Calling.
8) God’s Dream
Consistent with many of the other New Age implications contained in her channeled messages, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” introduces the New Age idea of “God’s Dream” in Jesus Calling when he states:
I may infuse within you a dream that seems far beyond your reach.42
In Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, the January 6th message/devotion is titled—and has “Jesus” telling the children—“Dare to Dream My Dream.”43
“God’s Dream” is a Deceptive Scheme
The term “God’s Dream” is yet another part of the overlapping New Age language streaming into the church. God’s Dream is a vague, loosely defined New Age metaphor that attempts to unify different religions and faith groups in an unbiblical effort to attain world peace. However, the true Jesus Christ warned that deception and the coming of Antichrist—not a “God’s Dream” peace movement—will be what actually precedes His ultimate and glorious return (Matthew 24:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5). The prophet Daniel warned that Antichrist will “destroy wonderfully” and “by peace he shall destroy many” (Daniel 8:24-25). In the future, what may appear to be a “wonderful” worldwide revival and a “wonderful” world peace will actually be a false revival and a false peace—the kind of peace that Daniel said will be associated with the coming of Antichrist, not the true Christ.
The New Age concept of God’s Dream was introduced at least as far back as 1916 by New Age theosophists in their Theosophical Path Magazine.44 Since then it has been used by numerous New Age sympathizers that include Oprah Winfrey,45 Wayne Dyer,46 former United Nations Indian guru Sri Chinmoy,47 and African bishop Desmond Tutu.48 The concept of God’s Dream was introduced into the church in the 1970s by former Crystal Cathedral pastor Robert Schuller49 and later adopted by Rick Warren,50 Brian McLaren,51 Joel Osteen,52 Bruce Wilkinson,53 Leonard Sweet,54 and many other Christian figures. The overlap factor is very apparent when comparing statements made by Oprah Winfrey, Joel Osteen, and Sarah Young’s “Jesus” :
Oprah Winfrey: God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself.55
Joel Osteen: God’s dream for your life is so much bigger than your own.56
Sarah Young’s “Jesus”: Dream your biggest, most incredible dream—and then know that I am able to do far more than that, far more than you can ever ask or imagine. Allow Me to fill your mind with My dreams for you.57
Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, and Leonard Sweet all used the God’s Dream metaphor to stress the urgency of achieving world peace—but at what compromised New Age cost?
Rick Warren: This weekend, I’ll begin a series of five messages on God’s dream to use you globally—to literally use YOU to help change the world! I’ll unvail our Global P.E.A.C.E. plan, and how God has uniquely prepared you for this moment of destiny.58
Brian McLaren: That in itself is an act of peacemaking, because we’re seeking to align our wills with God’s will, our dreams with God’s dream.59
Leonard Sweet: The time to save God’s Dream is now. The People to save God’s Dream are you.60
“God’s Dream” is a False Dream
“God’s Dream” may seem to be inspirational and have a godly feel to it, but there is nothing in Scripture to even hint, much less substantiate, the New Age concept of God’s Dream. God doesn’t dream in any way, shape, manner, or form. God’s Dream is definitely one of those crossover terms like “co-creation” and “divine alchemy” that attempt to “shift” everything into a New Age context and towards the universal acceptance of a New Age/New Worldview. Sarah Young’s “Jesus” plays right into this clever conditioning when he introduces the concept of God’s Dream in Jesus Calling and in no less than three of Sarah Young’s other books.61 The prophet Jeremiah warned about those who prophesy and present false dreams like God’s Dream:
Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:32)
Note: Because so many Christian leaders have adopted the concept of God’s Dream, it has become a popularly accepted “Christian” term and is now virtually indistinguishable from its New Age origins.
9) God “in” Everything
The New Age teaches we are all “One” and we are all “God” because God is “in” everyone and everything. This belief is referred to as panentheism and is the foundational teaching of the New Age movement. In my 2004 book Deceived on Purpose, I describe how long-time New Age evangelist Benjamin Creme, speaking on behalf of the false Christ Maitreya, presents the concept of “God in everything” as the bottom line teaching of the coming New World Religion. Creme said:
But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.62 (emphasis added)
But the true Jesus Christ never taught that God was a universal Presence that is “in man and all creation.” He did not teach that God is “in” everything. Yet the July 8th “message” that Sarah Young said she received from her “Jesus” definitely presents this false New Age teaching:
I am above all, as well as in all . . . 63
The true Jesus Christ knows that the foundational false teaching of the New Age/New Worldview is the concept of immanence—God “in all.” The true Christ teaches that God—in the Person of the Holy Spirit—is sent to indwell those who believe and follow Him (John 14:23). But He would never teach that God is “in man and all creation” or “in all” as Sarah Young’s “Jesus” states in Jesus Calling.
Note: Many Scriptures refute this idea that God is “in” all—Ezekiel 28:2, Galatians 6:3, Psalm 9:20, Isaiah 31:3, John 2:24-25, etc. Psalm 39:5 makes it very clear that “every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Man is not God or a part of God because God is not universally “in” everything—God is not “in all.”
10) Sarah Young’s New Agey Mystical Moonlight Conversion
In the original introduction to Jesus Calling, Sarah Young described how it was a walk in “God’s glorious creation” that led to her mystical moonlight conversion—that her “heart” was “converted” to “Jesus” when she “felt” “enveloped” by the “warm mist” of His “Presence.” Her account is reminiscent of how many of us fell prey to deceptive spiritual experiences rather than heeding warnings from the Word of God about “another Jesus,” “another gospel,” and “another spirit.” (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7; 1 Timothy 4:1). Note how Young clearly transitions right from “it was God’s glorious creation that helped me open my heart to Him” into her walk in the “snowy mountains” with its “cold moonlit beauty.” It is a continuous flow from one paragraph to the next. Young wrote:
It was the intellectual integrity of Francis Schaeffer’s teaching that had drawn me to that pristine place. Though the quest that had taken me there was a search for truth, it was God’s glorious creation that helped me open my heart to Him.
One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.” This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe.64 [emphasis added to indicate what has been removed from the most recent editions of Jesus Calling].
But after nine years of publishing the mystical conversion account above, this original account has been suddenly replaced by a different, more traditional conversion account that Young now claims to have had prior to her moonlight walk. Instead of “God’s glorious creation” transitioning into her mystical moonlight conversion, now it’s her new conversion account that transitions into her considerably toned down walk in the moonlight. The new account reads:
Shortly after I settled into the home I shared with other students, I met a gifted counselor who had come from the Swiss branch of L’Abri to talk with some of us. I went into the room where she was waiting, and she told me to close the door. Before I even had time to sit down, she asked her first question: “Are you a Christian?” I answered that I wasn’t sure; I wanted to be a Christian, but I didn’t really understand why I needed Jesus. I thought that knowing God might be enough. Her second question was: “What can you not forgive yourself for?” This question brought me face-to-face with my sinfulness, and immediately I understood my need for Jesus—to save me from my many sins. Later, when I was alone, I asked Him to forgive all my sins and to be my Savior-God.
One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. After a while, I came into an open area and I stopped walking. Time seemed to stand still as I gazed around me in wonder—soaking in the beauty of this place. Suddenly I became aware of a lovely Presence with me, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.” This experience of Jesus’ Presence was far more personal than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe—the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6 NKJV)65
This new conversion account immediately begs the question of why Young didn’t include this recent conversion account in her original writing. For nine years she described how her “heart” was “converted” in the “cold moonlit beauty” of “God’s glorious creation.” Now we are being told that her heart was converted previous to her walk in the moonlight after talking with a L’Abri counselor. The skeptical reader might see the author attempting to do some quick damage control—especially in light of the fact that a number of the controversial statements from her original conversion account have been completely deleted from the most recent editions of Jesus Calling. Gone is the original statement that transitioned to her mystical conversion—“it was God’s glorious creation that helped me open my heart to Him.” Gone is the “warm mist” that “enveloped” her. Gone is the “utterance” that was “totally uncharacteristic of me.” Gone is her being “shocked” to hear herself “speaking so tenderly to Jesus.” Gone is her realization that her “response” was that of “a converted heart.” Gone is “at that moment I knew I belonged to Him.” More succinctly—gone is her whole mystical moonlight conversion and gone are the New Age implications of what she actually experienced. Also gone for many of us is any real credibility for an author and publisher who are trying to edit their problems away without any explanation or apology to anyone—much less the millions of readers who read her original version.
It seems a bit disingenuous for Thomas Nelson Vice President Laura Minchew to deny the various New Age implications of Jesus Calling—even as they are deleting much of the very material that substantiates the New Age implications charge. A rose by any other name is still a rose. Same with the New Age. Like an octopus that shoots ink at its perceived adversaries to cloud the waters, Minchew’s attempt to intimidate critics and to dispel legitimate criticism is not credible. Laura Minchew, Sarah Young, and Thomas Nelson editors must know this or they wouldn’t be removing so much controversial material from their new editions of Jesus Calling.
When the author and her Thomas Nelson team choose to protect their multi-million dollar Jesus Calling industry rather than the truth, they betray the countless readers who have put their trust in Sarah Young’s “Jesus.” Nevertheless, some will still say—“but there is so much truth and so much Scripture, and I was so encouraged by Sarah Young’s book.” Or, “Hey, so what if they changed things. They were just trying to make it right—so what’s the problem? But it is a sad day when avowed Christians find themselves encouraged by a deceptive mix of truth and New Age error. And when an author and a publisher make significant changes to spiritually controversial material, they should provide some kind of explanation as to why those changes were made.
This much is for sure. The true Christ doesn’t mix truth with New Age teachings. This is what a false Christ does. When asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the world, the true Jesus Christ said that deception would be the sign—that many would come in His name and pretend to be Him (Matthew 24:3-5). And while this might be hard for some people to accept, His warning specifically applies to false Christs like Sarah Young’s “Jesus.”
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1. Jim Fletcher, “Top Christian Bestseller Accused of Heresy” (World Net Daily, http://www.wnd.com/2014/05/top-christian-bestseller-accused-of-heresy).
2. Q&A with Sarah Young, Author Profile (The Christian Broadcasting Network http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/books/jesuscallingqa.aspx).
3. Two Listeners; Edited by A.J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 5.
4. John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996), p. 103.
5. Ibid., p. 104.
6. Ibid., p. 80.
7. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, 2004), pp. Xl-XII, Printing 12 13 14 15 RRD 49 48 47 46.
8. Ruth Graham, “The Strange Saga of ‘Jesus Calling,’ The Evangelical Bestseller You’ve Never Heard Of” (The Daily Beast, 02/23/14), http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/23/the-strange-saga-of-jesus-calling-the-evangelical-bestseller-you-ve-never-heard-of.html).
9. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 94.
10. Ibid., p. Xll.
11. Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, Webster’s New World Dictionary: Third College Edition (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1988), p. 234.
12. Ibid., p. 389.
13. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling; 10th Anniversary Edition (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Inc, 2004, 2011, 2014), Printing 14 15 16 17 18 DSC 5 4 3 2 1.
14. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., pp. X-Xl.
15. John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, op. cit., p. 578. Quoted from Dave Hunt & T.A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1985), p. 123.
16. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, 10th Anniversary Edition, op. cit.
17. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 228.
18. Ibid., p. Xll.
19. Ibid., p. 362.
20. Ibid., p. 260.
21. Ibid., p. 139.
22. Ibid., p. 214.
23. Ibid., p. 241.
24. Ibid., p. 303.
25. Ibid., p. 85.
26. Ibid., p. 381.
27. Ibid., p. 209.
28. Ibid., p. 5.
29. Ibid., p. 360.
30. Ibid., p. 313.
31. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 260.
32. Webster’s New World Dictionary; Third College Edition, op. cit., p. 937.
33. Edited by N.G.L. Hammond and H.H.Scullard, The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, Second Edition, 1970), p. 36.
34. Ibid., pp. 36-37.
35. Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1996), p. 281.
36. Edited by N.G.L. Hammond and H.H. Scullard, The Oxford Classical Dictionary, op. cit., p. 37.
37. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 1995), p. 174.
38. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.
39. Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, Webster’s New World Dictionary; Third College Edition, op. cit., p. 273.
40. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 362.
41. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, op. cit., p. 264.
42. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 6.
43. Sarah Young (adapted by Tama Fortner), Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids (Nashville, TN: Tommy Nelson, 2010), p. 7.
44. Katherine Tingley, Editor, Theosophical Path Magazine, Volume X, February 1916, p. 159.
45. Ann Oldenburg, “The Divine Miss Winfrey” (USA Today, May 10, 2006, http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-05-10-oprah_x.htm).
46.Wayne Dyer, You’ll See it When You Believe It: The Way to Your Personal Transformation (New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, First Quill Ed., 2001), p. 108.
47. Sri Chinmoy; late resident Indian guru at the United Nations (http://www.yogaofsrichinmoy.com/god_the_author_all_good/mangod).
48. Desmond Tutu, “Archbishop Desmond Tutu Speech” (March 18, 2004, Bender Arena at American University, http://wwwl.media,american.edu/speeches/desmondtutu.htm).
49. Robert H. Schuller, Your Church Has Real Possibilities (Glendale, CA: Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, 1974), pp. 176-179.
50. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church e-mail, October 27, 2003, “GOD’S DREAM FOR YOU—AND THE WORLD!”; Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2004), pp. 131-142.
51. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006), p. 161.
52. Joel Osteen, “God’s Dream for Your Life”—Joel Osteen Ministries daily devotional 28 July Monday” (http://devotion.wedaretobelieve.com/2014/07/gods-dream-for-your-life-joel-osteen.html).
53. Bruce Wilkinson, The Dream Giver (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2003), p. 77.
54. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), p. 34.
55. Ann Oldenburg, “The Divine Miss Winfrey” (USA Today, May 10, 2006, http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-05-10-oprah_x.htm).
56. Joel Osteen, “God’s Dream for Your Life-Joel Osteen Ministries daily devotional 28 July Monday,”
57. Sarah Young (adapted by Tama Fortner), Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids, op. cit. p. 7.
58. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church e-mail, October 27, 2003, “GOD’S DREAM FOR YOU—AND THE WORLD!”; op. cit.
59. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, op cit., p. 161.
60. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 34.
61. Sarah Young, Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your Life (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007), pp. 68-69; Sarah Young: Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009), p. 124; Sarah Young (adapted by Tama Fortner), Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids, op. cit., p. 7.
62. a) Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England: The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88, Cited from Deceived on Purpose (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2nd ed., 2004), p. 156. b) Alice Bailey and Djwhal Khul, The Reappearance of the Christ, Chapter 6—“The New World Religion” (Caux, Switzerland: Netnews Association and/or its suppliers, 2002), http://netnews.org), http://web.archive.org/web/20070220093122/http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/reappearance/reap1025.html).
63. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 199.
64. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (original introduction), op. cit., pp. Vll-Vlll.
65. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (revised introduction), (10th Anniversary Edition), op. cit., p. xiv.
Editor’s Note: Our attempts to speak with Sarah Young about the problematic issues in Jesus Calling have been to no avail. Thomas Nelson has repeatedly stated that she is not available for interviews.
To order copies of The New Age Implications of Jesus Calling, click here
Pope Francis Elected After Supernatural “Signs Says Cardinal—The Role His Jesuit Contemplative Ways Play
According to a news article earlier this year in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, the “surprise election of Pope Francis came about because of a series of supernatural ‘signs,’ one of the leading Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church has claimed.” The article also stated:
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who was himself widely tipped as a possible successor to Pope Benedict, said he had personally had two “strong signs” that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was “the chosen one” in the run up to vote.
He said only divine intervention could explain the speed with which the Argentine Cardinal – who did not feature on any of the main lists of likely candidates compiled by Vatican experts – was elected.1
If this is true, that Pope Francis was elected through supernatural means, the question must be posed, from which side did this supernatural, “divine” intervention come? If it is indeed supernatural, it had to be either from God or from Satan (the two opposing forces). Because we know that the Catholic church is a false heretical church that believes salvation is justification through works and not the sole work of Christ on the Cross, that Mary is a co-redeemer who did not sin, and that Jesus Christ is found in the Eucharist and the Catholic Mass, we must conclude that this supernatural intervention that brought Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the station of Pope of the Roman Catholic Church is not from God.
How is this relevant to the evangelical/Protestant church today? As Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times have reported since Pope Francis began his reign as Pope, evangelical leaders are racing to the Pope’s side like never before in the history of the evangelical/Protestant church. Some of these who are rallying with the Pope are Rick Warren, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, and James Robison, while other Christian leaders, such as Beth Moore, are coming out with statements that are giving strong credibility to the Catholic church.
It is a known fact that Pope Francis is a Jesuit. And as Lighthouse Trails has reported on a number of occasions, he is also a contemplative advocate. See our article Pope Francis – Spiritually “Founded” on a Contemplative Tradition. As research analyst Ray Yungen has documented, the Catholic Church is using contemplative prayer as a means of expanding her borders. Roger Oakland, founder of Understand the Times, has linked the mystical practice of the Eucharist to the Papacy’s New Evangelization program to bring the “lost brethren” back to the “Mother Church.” And as one can see, these efforts are having tremendous results. Ray Yungen states:
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. (A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen)
For thirteen years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning that when people get involved with contemplative meditation practices, they are putting themselves under demonic influence. In time, the spiritual outlook of contemplatives moves away from the Cross and the Gospel and moves toward panentheism and interspirituality.
How does all this tie together? The cover story in Christianity Today’s December 2014 issue proclaims: “Why Everyone is Flocking to Francis.” CT has its own idea of why “everyone” is drawn to the Pope. But if Lighthouse Trails is correct in our conclusions about contemplative spirituality and its outcome, then what is happening here is a “supernatural” occurrence in the lives of millions of people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who are finding themselves dramatically affected by this Pope.
While we will not try to speculate what the possible role of this Pope could be in relation to Bible prophecy and the endtimes, we will say this with surety: between the New Age and the Catholic Church, the world is being drawn deeper and deeper into darkness and closer and closer to a false christ whom the Bible says is coming.
In closing, we’ll leave you with these words from Warren B. Smith:
The Catholic Church today [is] linked to the foundational New Age/New Spirituality teaching that God is “in” everyone.
The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is the official source for all Roman Catholic doctrine today, states:
“Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ.” (#795)
“For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” (#460) (cited from “Another Jesus” Calling by Warren B. Smith)
To Lighthouse Trails:
Just finished reading The Light That Was Dark by Warren B. Smith, which I could not put down, and immediately felt compelled to write on behalf of myself, my wife, and another couple who are close friends who we regularly Bible study with. We were all miraculously delivered from the deception of New Age/human potential movement that appears to be alarmingly spreading like wildfire across the globe and into our churches as we speak, while scarcely one voice has been raised in opposition. I just wanted to say that as one who was also blinded by the false light of New Age hippiedom, we feel a very strong parallel with the path Warren was and is now on. The same urgent fire has been lit in us by the Holy Spirit to warn others that “another jesus” has breached the walls of sleeping modern Christianity, which we firmly believe is rapidly rolling out the red carpet of “strong delusion” for the Antichrist to hit the world stage in the “name of love” as prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2.
Our beliefs are fundamental in nature, and we try to evangelize to our former New Age friends and now live near Sedona, Arizona, as we believe the Lord had placed us here to witness to its New Age spiritual darkness. My main purpose for writing this is that I feel a connection to Warren as I believe we are on the same path, which I believe is far narrower than post modern and emerging Christianity of today apathetically assumes. I believe the Holy Spirit is compelling me to write this.
I personally feel God has lit a fire of urgency in our spirits to be vocal about this subtle, yet insidious deception the enemy tries to put out, which not only comes from opposition through New Agers but even more disturbingly through those professing the name of Christ, who have often come to label us as unloving, negative, paranoid, pharisaical, etc., as what I believe is nothing more than a tactic on the part of the adversary, for us to lay down the sword of Truth, which I will not and cannot. It is a battle indeed, a very real war against spiritual wickedness in high places that does indeed require the full armor of God. Oftentimes it can be disheartening and discouraging, leaving us to feel like an archaic, unheard, or annoying voice in the wilderness.
I believe God let us spend many years in wandering the wilderness of New Age humanism so we could well understand the subtle tactics our enemy, so that once He delivered us from it, we would not be saved to be silent about it, but to be vocal.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. – Ezekiel 33:6
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has asked Warren Smith to share a brief Thanksgiving greeting to our readers and a story from his book Watering the Greyhound Garden: Stories from the Streets of San Francisco. Many of our readers know Warren from his books that warn about spiritual deception but don’t know that he was a career social worker serving in a variety of positions over the years—including his job as a Travelers Aid social worker at the Greyhound Bus Station and on the streets of San Francisco.
A Thanksgiving Greeting
This Thanksgiving, may the Lord bless each of you as you gather together with family and friends to give thanks for His many blessings. May we remember too the countless churches, ministries, and Christian agencies that help to serve people who find themselves in need on Thanksgiving and at other times throughout the year.
My very first job as a social worker was with Travelers Aid in San Francisco. I was the night social worker operating out of the lobby of the San Francisco Greyhound Bus Station. From my ground level position I met many lost and desperate people whose lives were significantly changed—both physically and spiritually—by ministries, churches, and agencies like Travelers Aid. It was often quite amazing to watch how churches and community groups networked to help those who were experiencing hard times in the city. In my particular position, I saw people who had often reached the end of the line and had dead-ended at the Greyhound.
The Greyhound terminal was like a modern-day Jericho Road where broken-down travelers were in urgent need of help. From California dreamers and state hospital runaways to an abused housewife, a stranded grandmother, a suicidal transvestite, and a seventy-three-year-old man still riding the rails—all in San Francisco and earnestly seeking help. Their stories tell the universal story of the wayfaring stranger—the traveler in trouble. The following story from my book Watering the Greyhound Garden is about a southern man who ended up stranded, alone, and without hope at the Greyhound Bus Station. His story serves to remind us to give thanks always for the way God works in our lives. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.—Job 19:14
When I first spoke with Willis Potter, he had been sitting in the Greyhound lobby for nearly three days. He’d caught the attention of our volunteer as he periodically walked past the Travelers Aid booth to go up the stairs to the men’s room on the second floor. A North Carolina native, the seventy-three-year-old man wore wire-rimmed glasses, spoke with a strong southern accent, and walked with a noticeable stoop. His thin, silvery-gray hair framed his high pale forehead and angular facial features. Wearing a coat and tie and neatly shined shoes, Mr. Potter was very proper in his own country kind of way. His manner was gruff, and he would periodically punctuate his sentences with the characteristic phrase, “Don’t ya know.”
“I spent my whole life in Holly Hill, don’t ya know. I was livin’ with my sister there until she died two years ago. Her kinfolk kicked me out after she died. They tried to put me in a home for old fogeys, don’t ya know. But I ran away to New York. I met a Jewish woman there and lived in her home near Coney Island. Then one day we had a fight and I had to leave, don’t ya know. Been travelin’ ever since.” He told me how he’d crisscrossed the country several times over the past two years with his suitcase and three large trunks—but in spite of all his traveling he’d never found a place that felt like home.
“I miss them dogwoods in the spring, don’t ya know. That Carolina countryside is the prettiest dang thing you’d ever want to see.” His eyes seemed to glisten as he pictured the familiar scene in his mind. “But if I went back to Holly Hill they’d just try to stick me back in that home for old fogeys, don’t ya know.”
When I asked Mr. Potter what his plans were, he said, “To die.” I was taken aback by his straightforward pronouncement and asked him to explain.
“I aim to die, blast it! I arrived here at this bus station with $65 and some hoodlum robbed me twenty minutes later, don’t ya know. Social Security doesn’t even know I’m here, and they never get my checks straight anyway. I’m sick of the whole thing. I had a good life, but it was over the day I left Holly Hill. I’m too old and too tired to keep travelin’ around like this. I want to die, and this bus station is as good a place as any.”
“Die right here in the Greyhound?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes, sir. Right here in the Greyhound. Living is too much dang trouble, don’t ya know. I don’t care anymore.” He had made up his mind and that was that. The fact that he wasn’t asking me or anyone else for assistance seemed to underscore the seriousness of his plan. For Mr. Potter, the San Francisco Greyhound bus station was the literal end of the line. While most people in the lobby were waiting for a bus, Mr. Potter was waiting to die.
“Mr. Potter, when was the last time you had something to eat?” I asked.
“Three days ago,” he replied.
“Mr. Potter, you can’t just sit here and die!”
“Watch me,” he said with utter conviction.
I didn’t want to call Adult Protective Services, but he wasn’t leaving me much choice. Before taking that step, however, I made one last appeal by sharing a personal note about the city he now found himself in. I described my traveling out to San Francisco from Connecticut after being discharged from the Army. I was discouraged and depressed, but the city had given me hope and a new start. The people were friendly and open, and before long the city felt like home. I told him the reason I had my job in the bus station was because the people of San Francisco—through agencies such as United Way—wanted Travelers Aid to help people like him. I acknowledged that San Francisco was not Holly Hill, but the city had its own special beauty and charm.
Continuing my plea, I urged Mr. Potter to give Travelers Aid a chance. We could provide him with food and lodging, help straighten out his Social Security, and refer him to the Tenderloin Senior Center for assistance with permanent housing. Instead of putting him in a “home for old fogeys,” they would help him find his own apartment. I could even arrange to have Greyhound keep his trunks until he was settled.
Mr. Potter listened intently to everything I said. Perhaps too tired to offer any further resistance, he reluctantly agreed to work with me. I immediately took him over to the Greyhound coffee shop where he ended his three-day fast with a hamburger and a cherry Coke. After telling Greyhound to hold on to his three trunks, I called Mr. Patel and reserved a room for Mr. Potter at the Coronado. I then accompanied the weary North Carolina native in a cab to the hotel. After walking him to his room, I handed him several food vouchers. I told him to get some rest and that I’d be back the next day.
The following afternoon I led Mr. Potter over to the Senior Center on Leavenworth Street. Travelers Aid would work jointly with the center in assisting him. While they helped him find an apartment, we would continue to meet his immediate needs for food and lodging. We would also make sure that his Social Security payments were properly reinstated.
The Senior Center found him a small furnished apartment two blocks from the bus station in a building designed for seniors who were still able to live independently. The manager was very supportive and allowed Mr. Potter to move in right away, deferring the rent and deposit until his Social Security checks caught up with him. He even advanced Mr. Potter some money for his beloved “chewin’ tobacco.”
I was happy for Mr. Potter and visited him regularly during my dinner breaks. He would tell me tales about his childhood farm and of southern days gone by. Over time, I discovered he had his own unique vocabulary—he talked of his love for “cowpop”(milk) and his penchant for eating “cackleberries”(eggs). He was feisty and rarely smiled, but sometimes I detected a twinkle in his eyes when he delivered one of his characteristic digs at life today compared to “the good ole days.” Mr. Potter liked to tease me by calling San Francisco “Frisco.” I would remind him that San Franciscans never called San Francisco “Frisco.” Referring to the city as “Frisco” was the sure sign of an outsider—and that he was no longer an outsider.
Mr. Potter lived in his apartment for about six months. The last time I saw him he said he was moving out of the Tenderloin. The Senior Center had found him a studio apartment near the ocean in the Richmond District, which he described as “real peaceful.” The Tenderloin was too dangerous, he said, and now he wouldn’t have to be so worried about getting robbed by “hoodlums.” When I left his apartment that day, I was thankful that the man from Holly Hill would be living out the rest of his days in an apartment by the Pacific Ocean rather than in the lobby of the Greyhound bus station. His life had been uniquely shaped in the South, but Mr. Potter—“don’t ya know”—was now a full-fledged San Franciscan.
On behalf of myself and the editors and authors of Lighthouse Trails, may your Thanksgiving day be joyful and filled with God’s many blessings.