Two Letters to the Editor About Cedarville University Lead to New Research That Causes Continued Concern
Lighthouse Trails has been following Cedarville University since 2006 when we wrote an article titled “Cedarville University – Heading Down the Contemplative Road?” Since then, Lighthouse Trails has written several others articles having watched this Christian school head down the contemplative/emerging path. In 2013, Cedarville University got a new president, and we wrote an article titled “Will Cedarville University Turn Around With New President? – Challenge May be Big.” In that article, we stated:
Cedarville University has been dancing with the devil and his contemplative/emergent beliefs for quite some time. The question is, will the new president, Thomas White, be able to turn things around? That, of course, will depend on whether he even wants to turn things around, and that won’t happen if he doesn’t understand the true nature behind the contemplative prayer movement and the emerging church. If he doesn’t know that a panentheistic mystical paradigm shift is happening to the Christian church right now (as Ray Yungen has so meticulously shown in his research), we fear he may allow Cedarville to continue down its present course.
In the fall of 2015, Lighthouse Trails received two letters regarding Cedarville University. The first letter was from a concerned parent who was looking for a Christian college for her daughter. The letter gives us reason to remain concerned about Cedarville University.
“Co-incidentally,” Lighthouse Trails received a second letter from another person shortly after receiving the one below. In the second letter, we were challenged to remove Cedarville from our contemplative colleges list.
That second letter prompted us to contact Cedarville University, which led to a phone conversation with an academic dean at Cedarville. We shared our concerns that Cedarville students may still be getting contemplative teachings at the school. The dean allowed us to share documentation, in particular regarding a book being used in Cedarville’s Spiritual Formation course titled Grasping God’s Word, in which lectio divina is taught. The dean was gracious to us in his responses and agreed to allow us to send him some materials including Ray Yungen’s book on contemplative prayer, A Time of Departing. While we have not heard back from the dean, we are hopeful that the information we shared with him will bear much fruit in the future of Cedarville University.
Letter to the Editor #1 –
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
As we were doing our due diligence in searching for a college, my daughter and I were sitting in on a class [in April of 2014] at Cedarville University. I was so thankful to be there that day as the professor was teaching on Lectio Divina [from the book Grasping God’s Word]. I did confront the professor after the class was over and wasn’t surprised when he became very defensive. I was saddened to see Grace College on the ‘bad’ list. We have looked at the example given and other resources identified and am constantly checking for other things that are being taught or happening on campus.
Being aware of the contemplative movement, we have been very proactive in teaching our daughter to also be aware and to test everything. It is a battle, and I see many fall deep into it. I have directed many of my friends to your site in regards to the contemplative movement and also in searching for “christian” colleges for their kids. Sadly when they do come back to me they come back with a defense of why “meditation” is good and why the college they are choosing is a good place. This leads me to believe their own churches are either not teaching against or are teaching for the contemplative movement. Fortunately for me, my church has made us aware and are teaching against it.
Thank you again for keeping us aware. It is overwhelming for me sometimes to follow all the links you provide, but I am thankful for them and persevere to be informed.
After doing some research, Lighthouse Trails learned that the textbook being used that day in April 2014 to teach lectio divina is a book titled Grasping God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays (see pages 231-234). The book also favorably references a number of contemplative mystics. For instance, on footnote #10 of chapter 12, it states:
For more on prayer, see Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home; Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life; and Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
Such recommendations in a book being used in the Spiritual Formation course at Cedarville University is sad news, to be sure.
To further substantiate our reader’s concerns that contemplative spirituality is being promoted at Cedarville, the following courses at Cedarville are using textbooks by contemplative/emerging authors:
- Biblical Leadership (6210): John Maxwell
- Personal Evangelism (2400): Timothy Keller (contemplative advocate)
- Discipleship (3410): James Wilhoit and Dallas Willard (Spiritual Formation book)
- Orient to Bible Ministries (1000): Scot McKnight (emergent)
- Grasping God’s Word being used in some of the Spiritual Formation courses at Cedarville
Letter to the Editor #2:
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
After having a daughter graduate from Cedarville University, I was really disturbed when I received their alumni magazine and it was filled with articles on spiritual formation and contemplative prayer. I received it when Dr. Brown was president of the university. He has moved on partly because of the heat he received for allowing this unbiblical trash to enter the university. Dr. White is now the president and this trash has been removed. Please, for the integrity of your research organization, will you call and verify this information and write about it in your newsletter. Cedarville University is one of the few universities that holds to a seven-day creation and has received negative attention for their out-spoken position against same-sex marriage. People do change and so do institutions. If you are going to name names it is up to you to update and verify your research. Cedarville University deserves a second look and for their name to be taken off the list of universities that teach contemplative teachings.
Thank you for your consideration, R.C.
Of course, if a school that has been going in that direction stops and no longer promotes the Spiritual Formation paradigm, we would be overjoyed. A few things we need to point out:
We see that they still offer at least one Spiritual Formation course in their Bible minor program. One of the professors who teaches it is Dan Estes. https://www.cedarville.edu/Academics/Biblical-and-Theological-Studies/Faculty-Staff/Estes-Daniel.aspx. After receiving your letter, we did speak with Dr. Estes regarding the Spiritual Formation course at Cedarville. He e-mailed us a copy of the syllabus to assure us that he is not using any contemplative promoting books. He did say that there are several other professors who also teach Spiritual Formation at Cedarville, and he couldn’t be sure what they are using to teach the class. He told us we would need to talk to one of the deans of theology who won’t be available until after Thanksgiving. While we cannot say that this course is promoting contemplative spirituality since we haven’t seen all the syllabi or spoken with all the professors, we maintain that when that term is used, it will always directly or indirectly point to the writings of the mystics. After all, the term itself comes from the writings of Catholic mystics and was brought into the evangelical church largely through the contemplative pioneer, Richard Foster, who at one time observed:
“When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16176).
Something we are wondering, if the old president of Cedarville (Dr. Brown) left partly because of the heat he was taking for promoting contemplative/emerging, then why wasn’t there a statement made by the new president saying they were not going to go in that direction anymore. And what happened to the professors who were pushing for this? One of the staff who was promoting contemplative in Cedarville’s magazine The Torch, Kim Ahlgrim, is still on staff (http://www.cedarville.edu/Offices/Academic-Enrichment/Staff.aspx). Were they able to convince her that she was going in the wrong direction, or is she possibly teaching this to students on the side? This is a question that is worthy of being answered by Cedarville.
In our current updating research on Cedarville, we found that they still have on their website the 2011 issue of their publication Torch titled Tuning Out the Noise. This issue is an infomercial for contemplative prayer. If the school is now against contemplative, why leave this issue posted for students and others to access? Kind of like leaving the poison on the counter. You can read our 2013 article for more information about that issue.
On one webpage of Cedarville’s site, they are announcing that they received a 2015 award from the very contemplative/emergent magazine Worship Leader Magazine. While we can’t say that just because they received this award from the magazine that Cedarville is endorsing the magazine or inadvertently contemplative/emerging. However, we struggle understanding why they would post the magazine’s name and recognition if they are now against the contemplative prayer/emerging church movement. And on the Cedarville website, they state:
“Worship Leader [Magazine] is a subscription-only magazine for worship leaders and organizations around the country. It is highly respected as the premier worship magazine in America. A typical issue includes recommendations about the newest worship music, Christian books, movies and articles about how to be a great leader and worshipper of God.”
No warning by Cedarville here; almost an invitation to subscribe to Worship Leader Magazine. But if students do subscribe to the magazine, they are going to get hearty helpings of contemplative/emerging spirituality. In October of this year, on the Worship Leader website, they have an article that recommends the contemplative practice of lectio divina. The article states: “We could do a lectio divina reading of the biblical text, or use any one of several other Ancient/Future ways of engaging with it; anticipating that the God behind the story will be encountered as we do that.”
We would truly like to take Cedarville University off the Lighthouse Trails Contemplative Colleges list. But before that can happen, the concerns above need to be addressed and corrected. We also would like to know if the teachers who were formerly pro-contemplative have had a change of heart. Sadly, when even just one or two professors at a Christian college adhere to this spirituality, it can affect the entire school. Lighthouse Trails does not post the names of contemplative promoting colleges to be spiteful or mean. We do it because we genuinely care about students, especially the young ones, who are being led down a very spiritually dangerous road.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Thankfulness is our attempt as believers to express the inexpressible—the amazing gratitude we feel for the amazing grace bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He not only saved us from our sins (1 John 2:2), He promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are also assured that He who began “a good work” in us will be faithful to “perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
A day for Thanksgiving was set aside as a holiday so that we, as a nation, could collectively give thanks to God for all of His blessings—to express our gratitude for His love and protection and provision. In years past, hymns like Come Ye Thankful People Come were commonly sung in churches and classrooms as Thanksgiving day approached—young and old alike openly giving thanks to God for His abundant supply and bounty:
Come, ye thankful people come; Raise the song of harvest home,
All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide, For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple come; Raise the song of harvest home.
God’s people are called to be a thankful people because we have so much to be thankful for. Another hymn of gratitude, Now Thank We All Our God, expresses our thanks for all the “wondrous things” God has done and for His “countless gifts of love”:
Now thank we all our God, With hearts and hands and voices,
Who, wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.
135 References in the KJV Bible
In the King James Bible, for example, there are 135 separate verses that refer to the act of giving thanks. Scripture makes it clear that thankfulness is pleasing to God and is part of the way we praise and worship Him (Psalm 116:12-19). We should never take things for granted because we know that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).
Jesus stressed the importance of thankfulness when He singled out the only one of the ten healed lepers who glorified God and gave thanks for his healing:
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (Luke 17:15-19)
Jonah was released from the fish’s belly after praying and giving thanks to the Lord:
When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. (Jonah 2:7-10)
King David, though continually attacked by his enemies, was always thanking God for His goodness and mercy and deliverance:
He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and showeth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore. (Psalm 18:48-50)
Daniel’s response to the King Darius’ edict forbidding prayer to anyone other than the King was to continue his practice of openly praying and giving thanks to his God. Scripture records that Daniel was delivered from certain death in the lion’s den because he unashamedly “believed in his God” (Daniel 6:10;23). His refusal to compromise served as a witness not only to the King but to all those who have read this account in the Bible:
Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:9-10)
Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. (Daniel 6:23)
As already referenced, Scripture is replete with verses pertaining to giving thanks to God for His abiding presence in our lives. Much too frequently we neglect to give thanks to the One True God to Whom we have so much to be grateful for. The Bible is very specific about the many whys and wherefores of giving thanks to God.
Why We Give Thanks
Because God Gives Us Our Daily Bread
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-12)
And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. (Matthew 15:36-38)
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1Timothy 4:4-5)
Because God is Good
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1Chronicles 16:34)
And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. (Ezra 3:11)
Because Thankfulness is Good
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High. (Psalm 92:1)
Because Thankfulness is the Will of God
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18)
Because God is Holy
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 30:4)
Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 97:12)
Because God’s Name is Holy
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. (Psalm 106:47)
And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. (1Chronicles 16:35)
Because God’s Word is Holy
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1Thessalonians 2:13)
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
Because of God’s Grace
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:14-15)
Because God Gave Us the Gift of Jesus Christ
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Because Jesus Christ Shed His Blood For Our Sins
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)
Because God Lifts Us Above our Enemies
It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me, And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. (2 Samuel 22:48-50)
He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. (Psalm 18:48-49)
Because God Delivered Us From the Powers of Darkness
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:10-14)
Because God Causes Us to Triumph in Christ
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Because God Gives Us the Victory Through Jesus Christ
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)
Because God’s Mercy Endures Forever
Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 106:1)
O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:2)
O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:3)
O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:26)
How We Give Thanks
Through Jesus Christ
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (Romans 1:8)
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1Timothy 2:5-6)
With the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. (Psalm 107:21-22)
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17)
By Praising and Giving Thanks to His Name
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:13-16)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God. (Psalm 147:7)
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD. (2 Chronicles 5:13)
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:1-3)
By Walking In Love and Thankfulness
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-4)
By Declaring His Works
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. (Psalm 26:7)
Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. (1 Chronicles 16:8-9)
By Thanking God For Fellow Believers
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. (Colossians 1:1-3)
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)
By Thanking God For All Men
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4)
By Giving Thanks in Everything
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18)
By Giving Thanks in Whatever We Do
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)
Who Gives Thanks
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 7:11-12)
The 24 Elders in Heaven
And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. (Revelation 11:16-17)
All His People
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5)
When We Give Thanks
When We Eat or Don’t Eat
He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Romans 14:6)
When We Take Communion
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:17-19)
When We Have Suffered Wrongfully
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Peter 2:19-20)
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:14-15)
After God Intervenes
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)
Morning and Evening
And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even. (1 Chronicles 23:30)
At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments. (Psalm 119:62)
While We Live
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. (Psalm 30:10-12)
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations. (Psalm 79:13)
We Praise God With Our Thankfulness
The Bible says that by offering the sacrifice of praise to God we give thanks to Him (Hebrews 13:13-16). Thus by praising God, we thank Him for his love, protection, presence, and provision. Paul and Silas gave thanks to God by praising Him—even after they were beaten and thrown in the jail (Acts 16:23-25). Pursuant to their thankful praise, the prison walls confining them were shaken. Free to escape, they witnessed to the jailer and his whole household who were all saved and baptized that same day (Acts 16:30-34).
With God’s help we can learn to give thanks in everything. There is a saying that wherever you go, there you are. The Bible tells believers that wherever they go, God is there with them. Because God is always with us, He will help us and enable us to do things that we otherwise could not do on our own—like giving thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and thanking Him for all things (Ephesians 5:20).
Lord, I want to be thankful “in everything” because Scripture tells me that is your will for my life. But I am often unable to be thankful due to forgetfulness, selfishness, and my own shortcomings. May Your Holy Spirit remind me to be thankful in everything, now, always, and for evermore. Please help me to remember that all things work together for good to them who are called according to your purpose. Thank You for all that you have done and will continue to do in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Being Thankful Through It All is also available in booklet form.
The subject of peace has been thought about, written about, and passed through the lips of countless people over the centuries. Human history has been racked by violence and unrest since the fall of man, making peace an evasive commodity that has only been known for relatively short periods of time.
We wanted to take a look at peace from a biblical perspective considering that the subject is being increasingly talked about in academic, political, and especially religious circles. Rick Warren, for instance, has been trying to implement and promote his P.E.A.C.E. Plan through his three-legged stool approach of melding the world’s religious, economic, and political forces into one. As he points out, just as a stool cannot stand unless it has at least three legs, he believes that we cannot achieve world peace without the blending and unifying of these three forces. The New Age movement also has a P.E.A.C.E. plan, and although the acronym utilizes different terms, the intents and goals are similar to those of the Purpose Driven Movement.
The Bible teaches that we are to, “if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Paul’s choice of words here serve as a kind of hesitation in approaching the subject of peace because he knew in his own life what an evasive commodity peace can be. Paul’s mission was to preach the Gospel, but in so doing he recounts the perils that he faced to include receiving 39 lashes five times, being beaten with rods three times, and being stoned once (2 Corinthians 11:24-25). But this was no great surprise to Paul because God had said of him, “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). When we read of the lives of the other apostles, we learn that their lives were marked by suffering and hardship too. But the Lord had also prepared them for this in saying, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Jesus even went so far as to describe to Peter what kind of death he would suffer for the sake of the Gospel (John 21:18). Is it any wonder, then, if our lives are marked by hardships and misunderstandings and hostility.
However, in recalling the lives of the apostles and those who have suffered before us, a very important lesson can be learned here. What is being taught in many of today’s “new” Christianity churches is that our task is to build God’s kingdom here on earth and that Jesus will return once we have created a form of Utopia here. Similarly, the Catholic Church believes we will create a Utopia once the whole world unites in a devotion to Mary and the Eucharist; this world-wide devotion to the Eucharist will be their version of the second coming of Christ.
But as all of these churches unite in trying to bring their version of peace on earth, they are sadly mistaken and ignorant of what is clearly presented in Scripture. This ignorance of the Scriptures is really a matter of choice than anything else. Just as Peter was not happy to hear what sort of death he would suffer, the emerging religious leaders of today do not want to believe the bleak picture the Bible portrays of the world before Jesus’ return. But while Peter accepted Jesus’ words, these new Christianity emerging leaders have bent and twisted Scripture in such a way as to support this Utopian God’s-kingdom-on-earth-now theology.
Unbeknownst to the multitudes who are following these globalistic leaders, these current efforts toward global peace are paving the way for the Antichrist whom the Bible warns will implement a peace plan in the last days. Sadly, much of the church of today, as apostate as it has become, is becoming deluded and conditioned to receive this satanic world leader in much the same way that the churches in Germany were conditioned by anti-Semitic teachings prior to Hitler’s rise to power. Our leaders of today are becoming modern-day John the Baptists for the Antichrist.
While it is true that some of Bible prophecy can be difficult to understand, just a superficial reading of Matthew 24 or Luke 21 should make it abundantly clear that Jesus will return to a world of violence and chaos, not Utopia. But, here again these Scriptures have been twisted or ignored—by choice.
As for the Book of Revelation, some current-day Bible teachers believe that the prophecies of the Book of Revelation have already happened (preterism) (as the Catholic Church teaches) or that these events can be prevented (as the New Age and emerging church teaches) in much the same way that Jonah’s warning to the Ninevites was turned around. The sad difference is that while the Ninevites responded by repentance, our world is moving further away from godliness. Furthermore, the Book of Revelation depicts events as they will actually happen—not as they might or could happen—because John saw in a vision the future as it will be.
There is, however, God’s call today for repentance. There are Christian believers who have been trying to spread abroad God’s appeal for repentance and His warnings about the apostasy that has already come upon us. They have been warning that judgment begins in the house of God and that judgment is upon us now too. As we shall see, judgment on the world has only begun and will intensify in the future like birth-pangs on a woman in labor. Paul said, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22).
It is rather uncanny how the world, in recent years, has witnessed so many natural disasters in the form of earthquakes, floods, and weather phenomena, while the mainstream news media has done so little to cover these events. In Japan, they had a triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear holocaust with possibly millions seriously exposed to radiation in Japan while unknown quantities of contaminated water got dumped into the ocean, and radiation permeated our atmosphere on a global scale; yet the media had little to say about this either except to almost laughingly dismiss it by saying we are getting less exposure than we get from having an X-ray in the dentist’s office. The indifference is unbelievable.
Could it be this indifference we are witnessing is part of the world-wide delusion Jesus predicted would sweep the earth in the end times? Most Americans, in particular, are living in denial—unwilling to acknowledge the storm clouds looming on our horizon. Is it because we have known little of suffering, and those living today have never witnessed our shores being invaded by war? But America will know God’s judgment, and again the reason why we cannot see it is a matter of choice rather than looking at things realistically.
Of all Americans, our Christian leaders should be seeing and hearing God’s warnings of impending judgment. But instead, they are shaking hands with the Devil and prophesying peace, purpose, and prosperity through unity and “community” to their congregations.
Sadly, our world will not know the lasting peace that our religious leaders are predicting—not until after Jesus Christ returns. Yet, God is offering peace and comfort to his own—to those who hear His Word and follow Him. But this peace is not to be found by pursuing our own dreams and goals but rather in seeking to know what God has planned for our lives. The reality is that much of the anguish we experience in life is when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped or expected. By contrast, Jesus’ apostles knew the peace of God because rather than living in the denial of the post-modern Christians of today, they abided in Christ (1 John 2:28) and fully embraced the lives that God had for them, even when they knew it could mean martyrdom.
Think again of the plight of Peter. Jesus had told him that he would suffer persecution and die a cruel death, yet we do not see Peter wringing his hands at every bend in the road wondering what horrors may await him around the next corner. Peter’s life was not one of denial or of fear, but of resolve; the same man who had denied his Lord three times made it his mission to walk with God no matter where that road took him. Consider the events of Acts chapter twelve. King Herod had just had James the brother of John killed by the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested too (Acts 12:2-3). No doubt, Herod’s intention was to have Peter executed also; and from the believers, realizing the severity of the situation, “prayer was made without ceasing” (vs. 5). Meanwhile, Peter had no expectation that an angel would deliver him that night, yet he could sleep in such a dire situation. Peter had learned to entrust his life to the Lord—combining faith and yielding to the will of God—and his heart was ready for whatever awaited him. As the chapter closes, we learn that with the turn of events, it is King Herod who dies and Peter is free.
It seems that Peter was always learning lessons in life, and here we can see that he had learned to be at peace in even the most drastic of situations, leaving the outcome in God’s hands. In his first epistle, Peter shares this perspective:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. . . . Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12,13,19)
Like Paul, Peter had learned to be content in every situation. It is the life available to all Christians who yield to God’s will, trusting Him to bring them through every situation. How alien to this way of thinking is the church of today where the expectation is that God will make things go our way—even to the point of achieving global peace and a Utopian society. These are things that Jesus never promised us and, in fact, warned would not happen. While Christian leaders of today are speaking of establishing God’s kingdom on Earth before Jesus returns, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36—emphasis added).
Should we not, as believers in Jesus Christ, be about our Father’s business? So while we should try to live at peace with all men, our objective should be to spread the Gospel to all mankind. When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven, he never used illustrations that support the kingdom-now teachings of today. Rather, He spoke of hidden things and small beginnings. There was the parable of the mustard seed, which has a small and humble beginning yet grows into a tree (Matthew 13:31-32). Then there is the parable of the leaven, which a woman “hid” in three measures of meal, yet it leavened the whole lump of dough (Matthew 13:33). We used to wonder what Jesus meant by these parables, but over the last several years we have become aware that while the apostate church has been very visible and trumpeting their attempts to bring about a world-wide “reformation,” simultaneously an unseen body of believers all over the world has been returning to their first love and walking in repentance. I am sure that it is to this body of believers that Jesus refers to as the kingdom of heaven—not the boisterous liberal body who will sacrifice the Gospel in their pursuit of peace.
Peace is one of those unusual commodities (though very valuable), which cannot be achieved through direct pursuit. When nations have walked in repentance and pursued righteousness, God has blessed them with peace. But when nations have become vile and unruly and exchange a pursuit for God for a pursuit of things, the aspiration for peace remains out of reach.
The kingdom of heaven is less visible in its pursuits because its goals are different than the earthly ones of the apostate church. Our commission is to spread the Gospel, and it is to this cause that we need to be faithful. The kingdom of heaven is less visible in another way too—it is something that works in the hearts of people bringing about change through repentance and godliness. Compare this with Rick Warren’s “new reformation,” which is based, by Warren’s own admission, by deeds rather than creeds. All are invited to this reformation, regardless of what anyone believes. But Jesus put it plainly when He said that a man’s actions, be they good or evil, proceed from what is in the heart. A reformation based on action that does not deal with the heart is futile indeed. In order to change our world into a better place, hearts would need to change. The only way our nation could have a turn-around at this point would be through widespread repentance, but how can this happen when even the church is not walking in repentance today?
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Today, we often hear many Christian groups quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray . . . then will I hear from heaven . . . and will heal their land.” But there is a part of this Scripture that is usually ignored: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” All of the prayers for America by apostate leaders are in vain because these leaders (and their followers) have not even repented themselves. On the contrary, they continue to promote and exalt a kingdom-now, dominionist, mystical, experiential “gospel.” Just look how popular books like The Shack and The Purpose Driven Life have been with new ones like these on the horizon every day. These books make people feel good about themselves, but they do not bring the heart to repentance.
Unfortunately, the peace that our world desires will not be known because its pursuits are ungodly. For the true believer, however, peace is an achievable commodity. Jesus promised His disciples peace when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27—emphasis added). Notice that Jesus says two things here: First, the peace He gives is not like the peace the world gives. In other words, don’t pursue peace from the world. Secondly, Jesus speaks of the heart. Peace, for the Christian, is a matter of the heart. And, as I alluded to before, Christians with false expectations (who are living in denial) will be disappointed again and again and live lives of anguish. The Bible says that “fear hath torment” (1 John 4:18). But the disciples faced their fears; they acknowledged the fact that they would encounter persecution and hardships, then they entrusted their lives to God as unto a faithful Creator. After all, the God who made us is also able to take care of us. And He has promised to abide in us (I John 3:24) if we abide in Him.
Even though we cannot and will not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, Jesus did instruct us to observe the seasons. Right now, we are at that place Jeremiah speaks of where he says, “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). In a time when pastors should be leading their churches in repentance and evangelists calling our nation back to righteousness, we have peace plans underway. The future of our nation and our world is bleak, so we should not be offering false assurances that will only be dashed to the ground.
The Bible offers peace for the true believer, but it is a peace that transcends what the world has to offer. Looking to the world for peace will only lead to disappointment. The peace God gives is of the heart, and it does not depend on our circumstances. It results from looking reality in the face but then looking to God and keeping our eyes on Him—trusting Him to deliver us and keep us under the shadow of His wings.
Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:2-4)
To order copies of The Peace of God versus the P.E.A.C.E. of Man in booklet form, click here.
LTRP Note: In 2006, Roger Oakland’s ministry, Understand the Times, began a world-wide missions program, working with responsible pastors and other Christians (now in four different countries), coming along beside them with both financial and spiritual help, assisting them in setting up permanent homes for widows, orphans, and other needy Christian families. Today, there are 63 Bryce Homes in four countries. While Lighthouse Trails has thus far focused primarily on helping to raise awareness and support for the Bryce Homes in Kenya program, we’d like to let our readers know about some of the work Roger is doing in his other Bryce Homes. The following is an account by Roger on his recent trip to the Philippine Bryce Homes. Roger is currently working to expand the Bryce Home Program to Mexico and India. See the video below for a recap on the Bryce Homes Program.
By Roger Oakland
Director/Founder of Understand the Times, International and the Bryce Homes Program
Bryce Homes Philippines Trip December 2015
I have just returned from a 10-day trip to the Philippines. My purpose for this trip was to visit each of the 12 Bryce Homes Understand The Times has established there and to speak at a conference held for pastors and church leaders on the topic of Apostasy in the Last Days.
Bryce Homes Philippines was initiated in January of 2011 with just 3 Homes in the Malanday region of Manila. We now we have 10 Homes in Manila under the leadership of Pastor Richard Sorillia and his wife Bernadette.
This past year we expanded the Bryce Homes program to the city of Rosario in the province of La Union by adding two more Bryce Homes. Our leaders there are Pastor Ruben Laoagan and his wife Janish. It was also in this location where the one-day conference was held. Click here to continue reading.
Michael F. Haverluck
After Wayzata Public Schools illegally threatened a Minnesota homeschool family with criminal charges for allegedly not filing a “mandatory” notice of intent, the parents pushed back, causing school officials to back off and apologize.
“You have two days to give us the information we want or we are filing truancy charges,” the enrollment secretary of Wayzata Public Schools threatened the homeschooling parents concerning their 17-year-old son.
Soon afterward, the family contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) out of fear that further harassment and unwanted criminal charges would ensue. HSLDA attorneys contend that the threat was not only unlawful, but completely unwarranted.
“Minnesota law explicitly states that a letter of intent to continue homeschooling is not required for a child over 16, as long as the family has notified school officials in previous years,” HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly asserted. “This family had previously notified officials, so no further notice was required.” Click here to continue reading.
By L. Putnam
A recent Facebook Post captioned: “Help Your Child Achieve Calmness!” showed a picture of a little girl sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, hands out, and with her fingers fixed in a mudra position. What finger position is that? To be precise, it is the “Gyan Mudra” or “Chin Mudra” finger position in which the index finger touches the thumb tip to form as perfect a circle as possible with the other fingers extending upward.
Why do people do this? Yoga aficionado Gertud Hirschi, in her book Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands, tells us why: “We can effectively engage and influence our body and our mind by bending, crossing, extending, or touching the fingers with other fingers.” Hirschi goes on to pinpoint just what this finger position really means: “The thumb is symbolic of cosmic (divine) and the index finger is symbolic of individual (human) consciousness. The ultimate goal … is oneness of humanity with cosmic consciousness.”
Now, the purpose of this article is to inform teachers, parents, and grandparents that when either a child or adult uses mudra gestures, along with mantras, one is setting himself up to open up body areas designated as chakras. So, readers beware, each mudra gesture has far more wrapped up in in it than you might imagine; and it is not just an innocent finger technique to get one into a calmed state. To find out more–more on mudras, chakras, and mantras read on.
Mudra Definition: (muh–drah) A mudra is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions. (Wikipedia) Right up front, these gestures are spiritual, but most definitely not Christian! For nowhere in Scripture do we read of various ways to fix our fingers; as a matter of fact Scripture does not even tell us to fold our hands! However, it does tell us that we can stretch out our hands toward heaven, and call to the Lord who will hear our prayer. Click here to continue reading.
Read Berit Kjos’ book How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception
LTRP Note: In this sad state of affairs, in many ways, Wheaton College has brought this situation upon themselves by promoting, endorsing, and encouraging the “new” “progressive” Christianity for quite some time. Because the “fruit” of contemplative prayer and the emerging church is interspirituality, it only makes sense that such colleges will have professors (and students) who become interspiritual.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
WHEATON, Ill. — A prominent Christian-identified university in Illinois has suspended an associate political science director after she posted photos of herself wearing an Islamic hijab this past week, stating that she was doing so to show solidarity with Muslims.
“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college said in a statement on Tuesday. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
As previously reported, Larycia Hawkins posted to Facebook two photos of herself wearing a hijab on Thursday, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she plans to wear it everywhere she goes during the Advent—including at the Christian college and to church. Click here to continue reading.