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"From the Lighthouse" Newsletter

                      Printer Friendly Version (click here)                    October 26, 2009

In This Issue - click choice

Doug Pagitt's New Book: A Christianity Worth Believing - NOT Worth Believing!

A Pre-Halloween Warning: The Rising Darkness in Children's Games

Book Review: Rob Bell's Drops Like Stars

When a Young Girl Meets a Mystic

Newsweek: Blair for President at European Union Council?

Concerns about Christian Post Article: "Pastor Offers a Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional

Is Arizona For Sale to Big Porn?

Will Safe Houses Be Needed Again?

FFRF Sues IRS, Geithner, California State over "Minister of Gospel" Tax Benefits

Congress Moves to Control All U.S. Waters

New at Lighthouse Trails Publishing

6 More Days - 7 Year Anniversary Fall Special

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What is Contemplative Spirituality?

definition: contemplative spirituality: a belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology; the premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).

 

spiritual formation: a movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

How Widespread Has Spiritual Formation Become? Read our list of ministries that are promoting it. Please pray for the leaders of these groups that their eyes may be opened.

 

Writers We Use

Doug Pagitt's New Book: A Christianity Worth Believing - NOT Worth Believing!


by Ezra McGill
Free-lance writer


In his book, A Christianity Worth Believing, emergent leader Doug Pagitt presents a theology that is worth exposing, because it is neither biblical nor Christian. This is the unfortunate power of media-savvy emergent leaders--errant theology is couched in Christian terms, and the undiscerning are drawn in.

As others have noted, Doug Pagitt undoubtedly cares about his flock, the homeless, coffee farmers in Guatemala, and the environment. Yet, if the emergent movement could be summed up in one phrase, perhaps it is this: "Tiny men shaking tiny fists at the biblical God."
The Bible tells us, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.(Psalm 2: 2-4)

The author of A Christianity Worth Believing vigorously disputes the authority of Sola Scriptura--the Word of God. He writes, "The inerrancy debate is based on the belief that the Bible is the word of God, that the Bible is true because God made it and gave it to us as a guide to truth. But that's not what the Bible says" (p. 65).

He further explains, "This is how it works. We are characters in the stories we hear. The living Bible invites us to step into the stories, not as observers, but as participants in the faith that is alive and well and still being created" (p.67).

That's right. The author believes Christianity is still in the process of being created. Obviously, this theology that is being created is in total opposition to biblical Truth. Like the author of The Shack, Pagitt categorically denies the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.

He states, "the early evangelists recognized they could help the Jesus story make sense if Jesus was seen as someone who was chosen to appease the wrath of God--hence, the 'anointed one' who could do what no one else could do" (p. 181).

So, minus our Savior, how does this emergent leader view receiving forgiveness for sins? Before we get to this, let us understand that he spends a good deal of time making the artificial distinction between Christians' alleged Greco-Roman understanding of God (Pagitt sees this as a distant God), and the Old Testament Hebrew God (always present, understanding, and intimate).

Incredibly, the author presents the Old Testament as his "proof" that there has always been accessible forgiveness for sin. He notes that his wife was raised in a Jewish family, and she "tells [the congregation] each year that the Jews would celebrate the Day of Atonement by gathering lint from their pockets, every little corner of them. She invites us to do the same. Then we write confessions on pieces of paper or pick up leaves to represent each sin and walk to the edge of a stream. As we drop our leaves and papers into the stream, we read from the Psalms" (pp.163-164).

Psalm 103:11-13 is then read to Pagitt's congregation: "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him."

Following this, he writes, his wife, "reminds us that just as the water carries our words away, God takes our sins from us. As far as can be, sin is removed, taken, gone. Yes, sin exists, and when we find it, we should get rid of it" (p. 164).

But what defines "sin" if the Bible is not really the authoritative Word of God? If Christ is not Savior? Pagitt never really gives a satisfactory answer to this.

"Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment"(Lamentations 2:14). Pagitt assures us he understands this new theology can be upsetting. "This can come as a shock to those Christians who are so used to hearing that Jesus is the solution to sin that they assume that the remedy started with the death of Jesus. The Jewish Tradition tells us otherwise" (p. 163).

A Christianity Worth Believing is the presentation of a distorted version of our faith. It is the tepid celebration of a powerless, false "christ." It is textbook emergent heresy. Those reading this book who do know and love Christ may feel disgust, disbelief, even scorn. Well and good. But may we also be very afraid for those who are exposed to such teaching.

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).

One gets the sense that Doug Pagitt seems compelled to deny the Truth--he simply cannot see it. He is the angry blind man striking out with his cane. He swings, he slashes; he jabs and stabs. Unfortunately, that sharpened cane has poked out many an eye.
And seems poised to pierce many, many more.

"And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?'" (Luke 6:39)

Related Information:

More on Doug Pagitt's spirituality, click here.

When They Say There's No Blood Atonement

The Process of Reimagining by Roger Oakland

EMERGENT MANIFESTO: Emerging Church Comes Out of the Closet




 

A Pre-Halloween Warning: The Rising Darkness in Children's Games

by Berit Kjos

"Spiritual transformation... is mediated through a person's religious imagination." Lancaster Theological Seminary

"I love anime. I will always love it.... I will not let anyone tell me that the things I hold dear are evil."

"Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether." Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.... Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:20-21

Don't play games with the occult! Ouija boards have always invited oppression, but they are far more likely to invoke unwanted "spirits" today. So is the new generation of occult games and videos.

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

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

The main victims of this blindness are children. Unless we teach them to recognize and resist these dangers, many will welcome the darkness. So let's examine the nature and tactics of this very real spiritual war. Bakugan -- a popular game and online anime (Japanese animation) -- is a useful example.

"One day," so the Bakugan story goes, "cards began to fall from the sky and were picked up by kids all over the world. The cards featured different characters, different environments, and different powers.... these cards actually corresponded to an alternate world called Vestroia."

"...we invented a wicked new game we called Bakugan," explained the leader of Vestoria's young Battle Brawlers. "That's when the power of the cards was revealed. Each one held its own battling beast.... The battles were intense, and if you chose the wrong card, you lost it and the beast inside."

"...the beast inside!" Those words brought to mind some troubling email letters I've received from embattled teens and young adults. Like the Canadian women, they actually felt as if they had uncontrollable beasts inside. Their descriptions of inner battles--the nightmarish consequences of obsession with occult role-playing games--were heartbreaking. They couldn't stop playing--or block out the frightening images planted in their minds! Nor could they find faithful Christians in their communities who would guide them toward freedom!
Click here to continue reading.

Book Review: Rob Bell's  Drops Like Stars

by Mike Stanwood

Free-lance writer and researcher for the Gospel of Jesus Christ

 

What has red gilded pages, a hard cover, and costs more than the average person might pay for a book that can be read in one sitting? From a distance, Rob Bell's gigantic new book Drops like Stars is reminiscent of the Twilight Series look, with red flower and broken petals falling and shattering to pieces against a black backdrop. It looks like something you might find on a table in the corner of your favorite trendy coffee shop.

Drops Like Stars is Rob Bell's fourth book and much different from the others (Velvet Elvis, Sex God and Jesus Wants to Save Christians)--I couldn't help wonder how environmentally incorrect it would be considered by the earth-hugging culture, as many pages are blank, or contain a few words at best. The book is basically what they say it's about. A few thoughts on suffering--short on words, big on paper. It reads like a Nooma DVD script. Artsy and unique, the empty pages are the pauses; the full page photographs are meant to draw the reader in visually to stories or ideas said to be deep and stunning by some, overly simplistic by others. In between the pauses are various short stories about suffering, chopped and mixed together with quotes and commentaries by Bell.

The book opens with the story of the two sons, which we know as a beautiful, timeless picture of the Father's grace toward the prodigal son. But in the retelling of this story, Rob Bell (pastor of Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, MI) turns the perspective to how the story doesn't end. How the older son doesn't put his arm around the father, and Bell says, "You're right, Dad ... I've been such an ass. Can I get you a beer?"(p. 011). Bell laments that "we never find what the older brother decides to do," and how "some elder brothers never join the party," and that "lots of parties are missing somebody." (Bell leaves his readers with a recommendation in his endnotes to discover more perspectives on Jesus' story of 2 sons by reading Timothy Keller's book The Prodigal God and The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen.)

As the subject turns to suffering, the question Bell asks is not the usual "why does God allow suffering," but "what now?" From here, the train of thought shifts to the topic of "out of the box" thinking. When we suffer, we are "out of the box" because our "insulators" are dismantled and there is "disruption"--these are keywords repeated often on the next pages. The key word for dealing with new realities, Bell writes, is "imagine."

Bell presents the young Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) as an example as one who coped, his insulators being smashed as a young man when his entire family died. There are many more tragic stories in this book about people who have had their boxes smashed, their insulators removed, the empty places inside of them opened up; but in answering his own question of "what now?," does Rob Bell offer the hope of a Savior as a solution to such suffering in the world, as the Bible instructs? Of this, he falls short.

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15

Countless Christians can attest to the fact that God has used suffering to bring them face to face with their own mortality, leading them to salvation in Christ. In fact, the Bible tells us that our salvation is made perfect in suffering (Hebrews 2:10). But instead of giving an answer for the reason of the hope that lies within the Christian heart, Bell offers the reader the philosophy that suffering unites. Like those who have been affected by cancer, Bell's book says suffering unites us in compassion, empathy, solidarity, connection, and love. He sees pain as a necessary way to get to God (none get to God but through trouble), and honesty as the process to really feel alive.

However, our suffering is not so much about getting to God through trouble, but about His conforming us--bringing us into alignment with His will when we realize our weakness and utter hopelessness without Him, and our great need for Him. The Bible tells us there will be suffering until the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22). But what Bell does not say is that true unity can be found in Christ alone, and the only way any of us can receive new life and final redemption is to be born again by faith through His grace.

It's all about the art of the ache and expressing feelings, the ache being the universal factor that reassures us we are not alone. There is a bond in suffering that unites--this is the art of solidarity (p 65). Like Jesus when he hung on the cross, "feeling what we feel, aching how we ache, suffering like us" (p 67).

But did Christ suffer "like us"? The Bible says he suffered and was marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14). He took our punishment so we don't have to suffer as He did on the cross. Even so, Bell wonders (p 69) if the cross is God's way of saying "I know how you feel." The Bible says we are one in Christ Jesus, through the sacrificial blood atonement of the Lamb of God, our substitute. This is the unity Jesus prayed for in His High Priestly prayer before He was crucified (John 17).

Rob Bell never gets to that. Instead he mixes it up with more insulators being destroyed and more boxes smashed, and a quote from Susan Howatch's fictional Starbridge series (p 68) about the whole point of the incarnation being someone else (God) coming into the world and screaming alongside of us. But the Bible tells us that God's only Son was sent into the world to save us, and suffer in our place, not just feel our pain and scream with us. (John 3:16,17)

This view of the cross brings God to our level. While Jesus Christ became a man and bore our sins upon Himself, it wasn't simply to feel what we feel, but to break the power of sin and death in order that we might have eternal life in Him. It is through his suffering, death AND resurrection that we are now united in Christ. Tragically, Bell has not given his readers the whole truth.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32

InIn a recent interview Bell said: "The most powerful thing is when somebody joins us in our suffering ... In some ways the gospel, or the story of Jesus, is like a cosmic act of solidarity."--Mars Hill founding pastor to speak in Winnipeg, By Aaron Epp, Friday, July 24, 2009,


Did God send His Son so that we could stand together in the solidarity of our sufferings? No. Not our sufferings ... Those in Christ Jesus find fellowship in and around HIS sufferings: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus Christ conquered the power of sin and death, but has yet to return and put an end to suffering. There are only two choices for all of humanity--eternal life in Christ in heaven, or eternity without Him in Hell. Of these two realities, Bell gives no warning or makes no distinction.

Bell's frequent use of the word solidarity is curious--this is a term associated with unions and political socialism, as if we are all fractals, or parts of a whole without the finished work of Christ.

According to wikipedia, a fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is ... a reduced-size copy of the whole,"... a property called self-similarity.

Like the fragmented flower petals pictured in Drops Like Stars?

How coincidental that a similar new view is finding its way into the current emerging church of which Bell is part--this is a new emerging world-view based on the "new science's" research on fractals.

"... the term "fractal" is directly related to what are being called the "new sciences" of "Chaos Theory" and "Fractal Theory." (p. 141, "Fractals, Chaos Theory, Quantum Spirituality, and The Shack," A Wonderful Deception)

"Teilhard de Chardin, Matthew Fox, Leonard Sweet, and others with New Age affections are teaching the world and the church that God is "in" every atom--therefore God is "in" everything--therefore we are all One--"As above, so below." But in the Bible, the apostle Paul made it very clear to the Greek unbelievers on Mars Hill that while humanity shares one blood (Acts 17:26)--and all the cellular similarity that infers--humanity is still in need of a Savior." (p. 148, "Fractals, Chaos Theory, Quantum Spirituality, and The Shack," A Wonderful Deception)

But nowhere in Drops Like Stars does Rob Bell mention the need for a Savior for our suffering. The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, never stopped talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and continued in spite of his sufferings to bear witness that not only did Christ suffer, but was also the first to rise from the dead.

As the pages of Drops Like Stars are turned from thoughts on the cross, we are carried into the art world. Once again, Bell relays that there's a key element of imagination and creativity in suffering, and the art of elimination is a big part of that. For example, a sculptor's most important work is knowing what to take away. (Is this the same method that Bell has used to reimagine, sculpt and take away the truth, revealing his humanistic views?)

After more quotes and visuals (Van Gogh, Mark Twain, Michelangelo, Nike swoosh) the reader finds himself staring at a full page picture of a bar of soap, followed by various soap carvings over the next few pages because sculptors remove, eliminating the superficial and trivial in the same way that suffering reveals what matters most.

Here would have been a great opportunity to share with the reader how it is God, the ultimate sculptor, who in His mercy cleanses and refines us through suffering and trials in order to mold us into His image.

"But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap." Malachi 3:2

"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8

Instead we read in Drops Like Stars that there is greatness in you, and it takes suffering to get at it (p. 91). But is this what the Bible says?

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

We have no greatness in us, but God has great plans for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. This is what Bell completely misses.

Bell does put some Bible references to suffering in his book, and we are reminded that the apostle Paul suffered, having nothing but possessing everything (p 94). This brings up more short stories--of Rwanda, AIDS, David Letterman, Warren Zevon, and how when we suffer we become grateful for what we formerly took for granted. Such as the unemployed Argentineans that Bell observed in his travels who sang with passion. This was solidarity and hope. Not in God, but in their poverty and suffering.

On page 115 of Drops Like Stars, Bell quotes Franciscan priest and contemplative mystic Richard Rohr who tells of the native Americans who have a tradition of leaving a blemish in the rug they are weaving because that's where the spirit enters. Bell repeats this idea, saying it's in the blemish that the Spirit enters, relating this to coming to the end of ourselves through pain, and God turning our fragments into something new that we could never create on our own. Bell concludes that "it turns out that a Navajo rug and a Roman cross have a lot in common" (p 117).

Speaking of Richard Rohr, it is not unusual for emergent writers to turn to Rohr. His beliefs fit very well together with those in the emerging camp. In a Lighthouse Trails report on Mike Erre's book, Death by Church, it states:

Rohr is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. His spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ) who believes in pantheism (God is all) and panentheism (God in all). Rohr wrote the foreword to a 2007 book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) Paul Coutinho. In Coutinho's book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) worship the same God.

There are differing traditions about the blemish in the Navajo rug. Called the "Weaver's Pathway," or "Spirit Line," it may have come from a legend of a Spider Woman spirit being. Some say the Spirit Line is where the weaver's spirit leaves the rug so that she can create other rugs, preventing her spirit from being trapped. Others say the Weaver's Pathway counters negative symbolism in the pattern, and allows any evil spirits or energy residing in the rug to be released into energy and imagination for more rugs.

Instead of explaining this connection further, Rob Bell leaves his readers hanging by a thread, wondering exactly what native spirituality and spirits have in common with a Roman cross.

A little further along in his book, Bell quotes Abraham Joshua Heschel (a rabbi who believed that no religion had a monopoly on truth) who said that one should "live life as if it were a work of art called your own existence" (p 126). This reminds Bell of another Susan Howatch quote regarding the creative process that is the reward, and that nothing is wasted or without significance (p 128). These quotes support an emerging thought that it's the journey that counts and not the destination, as Bell has said before, "The way of Jesus is a journey, not a destination" (p 168 Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell).

This is a journey where hell is a present reality and our final destination is not "somewhere out there." Isn't this what mystic proponent Ken Wilber believes, that the truth cannot be found in truth but in the journey of seeking it? (Rob Bell did recommend his readers spend 3 months reading Wilber in his book Velvet Elvis, p 192.) The unbiblical goal of this emergent journey is to find a way for all truths to fit together, making the journey the important goal, not the destination.

Near the end of the book, we are told that Drops Like Stars got its name because of Bell's nephew who thought raindrops hitting the ground were stars. Oddly enough, even though this book does not give the biblical reason for suffering, the title is pointing to it. Dropping like stars is not an uncommon theme in the Bible, as when Jesus spoke of what he saw fall from heaven.

"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18

And throughout the Bible, it talks about various messengers coming down from heaven. In the book of Revelation, there is a star that drops from heaven, to whom was given a key to open the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:1,2). According to God's Word, there will be one more time when all will see Satan drop like a star, and that will be when Satan, formerly the most beautiful angel of all, and his followers are finally thrown into the lake of fire. That's where solidarity in suffering will be a reality--forever (Rev.20:10).

But this does not fit into Bell's theology. God's eternal plan for mankind should be central to a book with this theme, from the beginning of creation to the end of all time, as God has laid out His plan for salvation for us in His Word. Instead of answers, Bell offers a humanist perspective of life and a shallow version of hope that our culture would easily accept. And no wonder, as his own words recently revealed:

"Asking questions, engaging the wider culture and connecting with people are important aspects of his ministry, but the key, he says, is hope."--Ibid. Mars Hill founding pastor to speak in Winnipeg, by Aaron Epp, Friday, July 24, 2009

In conclusion--if it's a coffee table book with worldly wisdom and emerging spirituality you seek, this book may be just the one. You will not find much godly counsel within these spacious pages, but plenty of name dropping quotes from famous musicians, writers, artists, movies and celebrities to whom the world will gladly listen. In Bell's attempt to engage the culture, he has drawn from the philosophy and wisdom of the world and abdicated his responsibility as an evangelical pastor to represent the Gospel.

And what a shame. Far more important than the wasting of trees and paper with nearly blank pages in a book, there is an eternal significance--a wasted opportunity to share God's hope to a dying world. Our hope, our solidarity, and our unity is not in suffering, but in the resurrection power of our living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Hope of the world.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:3,4

Related Information:
Will the Next Billy Graham be a Mystic?
More on Rob Bell

 

When a Young Girl Meets a Mystic

LTRP Note: The following is an excerpt from Carolyn A. Greene's novel, Castles in the Sand, the first novel published that addresses the contemplative prayer (spiritual formation) movement. In this excerpt, the young Christian Teresa [Tessa], now attending a Christian college, is in her dorm room, thinking about her new spiritual director, Ms. Jasmine, who has promised to teach her students how to enter the "inner life" just like the mystics of the past. For Tessa, a lonely foster girl who lost her parents years earlier in a tragic accident, this talk of a better, more fulfilling life was just what she was looking for.

from Castles in the Sand
by Carolyn A. Greene
Excerpt from chapter 6, "Teresa Meets Teresa"


The school's spiritual formation professor had been responsible for bringing Ms. Jasmine to Flat Plains Bible College as their new spiritual director. Tessa was immediately drawn to her. Ms. Jasmine was so down to earth.... [Tessa] admired her from the very beginning.

Tessa's mind turned to Ms. Jasmine's promise to soon introduce them to the inner life. Although Tessa felt guarded about anything that came close to her inner life, she was drawn to Ms. Jasmine ...

Ms. Jasmine had placed colorful tapestry cushions in a circle at the front of the lecture hall, and fifteen minutes into her talk the students were encouraged to take one and seek out a quiet place of solitude anywhere on the campus. Once they had found a cozy spot, they were to use the outline they'd been given to practice a listening exercise called lectio divina, a "divine reading" that would make them feel closer to Jesus.

"Come back in half an hour," Ms Jasmine had told them, smiling as they filed by to pick up their cushions....

The listening exercise they were to do seemed simple enough. After choosing a Scripture passage, they were instructed to read it slowly a number of times and wait for a word to "come alive" to them. Then they were to take that single word, close their eyes and repeat it for several minutes. Ms. Jasmine's had read the outline ahead of time to the class. Her voice had a soothing, relaxing effect:

Sit with your back straight in a comfortable position.
Notice first the faraway sounds that you can hear.
Next, allow yourself to become aware of sounds that are nearer.
Then listen closely to your own heartbeat; this is your very own rhythm of life.
As you shut out these sounds, you will hear the sound of silence within yourself.
Listen like this for several minutes . . .
Write down what you hear God saying to you.
Remember, he is all around you and in you.

Tessa had found her own quiet spot on a bench in the courtyard, where yellow and red leaves drifted gently to the ground from the tree above. It had seemed weird at first, and Tessa wasn't altogether sure about it. But she read Psalm 15, and soon the word "truth" stood out to her. She straightened her back, closed her eyes, and repeated the word for at least five minutes. It was awkward this first time, because she kept looking down at Ms. Jasmine's instructions, wanting to get it just right. At one point, she thought she had actually heard a voice speak to her. Ms. Jasmine had told them to imagine themselves having a conversation with Christ. "Don't be afraid to listen," were the words she thought she heard, although it was probably just the wind in the trees.

Why not try it again, Tessa thought now, as she lay wide awake in the dark. She put her head under her favorite flannel-covered pillow to shut out [her roommate] Katy's snoring, turned on her LED book light under the blanket, and reread a page in what was now her favorite book, Selections from the Interior Castle, by Teresa of Avila of Spain. Even the picture on the cover had come alive in her imagination. It was a painting of an ancient castle with a high tower on a green hilltop. Leading up to the castle's stone archways were winding dirt roads that crossed over stone bridges. Tessa's imagination took her back to the storybook her mom often read to her when she was a little girl. Hesitantly, but with anticipation, she opened her new book to the page she had dog-eared earlier and began to read:

One kind of rapture is that in which the soul, even though not in prayer, is touched by some word it remembers or hears about God. It seems that His Majesty from the interior of the soul makes the spark we mentioned increase, for He is moved with compassion in seeing the soul suffer so long a time from its desire.

So beautifully written, thought Tessa. She read it over several times. Now that was beautiful literature, the kind she would like to read in the solitude of a beautiful meadow in a deep, sheltered valley. It was perfect. The word that jumped out at her was "spark." St. Teresa and Ms. Jasmine both talked about the spark within. Ever since her parents died in the crash, Tessa felt as if her own spark had been extinguished. Perhaps she would soon be able to feel the spark come to life again if she could practice being silent like this more often. When she closed her eyes, she could almost see a tiny light growing brighter in the darkness, like a light at the end of a long tunnel. Then again, maybe it was just the lingering glare from her book light. For a moment, she tried to focus on the light. Finally, Tessa quietly turned off the light, laid Gran's bookmark between the pages where she had finished reading, and put the book on her nightstand. At least she had figured out how to make Katy stop talking.

Tomorrow Ms. Jasmine was going to take their SF class outside into the fresh air. They were going to practice another prayer exercise called centering and take the first prayer walk through the brand-new campus labyrinth. Tessa felt as if she was about to step into a new realm, but she wasn't quite sure what it was. Maybe Flat Plains Bible College was not such a stuffy place to be after all. She would text Gramps in the morning. He'd be happy to know she was actually beginning to like this place. (from chapter 6,
Castles in the Sand)

Also see:

Table of Contents and Chapter One

Chapter by Chapter Synopsis

Chapter 19: "Bad Counsel"

What People Are Saying About Castles in the Sand:

A great read. The author has real talent. Characters like Gramps are amazingly well-sketched. Good story lay-out too, with flashes of humor. The story makes what is happening in schools & churches clear in a way mere reporting can't. E.L., Pennsylvania, U.S.

An excellent story with an urgent message. Teenaged/college-aged girls will want to read this book because the main character is their age and they will be intrigued by "a mysterious young man who reaches out to help Tessa. Additionally, parents and grandparents of young adults will want to read the book because of the subtle implication of the spiritual danger involved in things such as lectio divina, contemplative prayer etc. And if their sons and daughters are in Christian colleges, these words are now likely a part of their children's regular vocabulary, and naive, uninformed parents will immediately have their interest piqued when they read those words. D.H., Alberta, Canada

I'm on my second reading of Castles in the Sand. It is even better the second time!! The bonus book you sent me has been read by several people. Hannah [14 year old daughter] was the first to read the book in our house, and it equipped her to address her youth group about the terror of Avila. The leader was recommending they read Teresa of Avila's work. Hannah spoke right up about how bad it is. You could hear a pin drop, the way the kids were so attentive. K.R., Kansas, U.S.



 

Newsweek: Blair for President at European Union Council?

By Denis MacShane
NEWSWEEK

Like his mentor Bill Clinton, Tony Blair is poised to become the comeback kid of his generation. Europe's chattering class is currently buzzing with speculation that the former British prime minister is about to emerge from semiretirement to become president of the European Union Council. The new post, created by the Lisbon Treaty, will preside over meetings of Europe's elected leaders, where all the EU's real decisions get made. Assuming the treaty gets ratified, Czech President Václav Klaus is the last holdout, Europe's 27 prime ministers, presidents, and chancellors will soon have to pick a person to speak in their name. And the odds favor Blair.

This is not a traditional contest for a big international job. Everyone knows Blair's qualities and faults. But almost everyone also recognizes that he can put Europe on the world map in a way that no Brussels Eurocrat has ever managed.

That doesn't guarantee his chances, however. Blair insists he's not formally a candidate for a post that, after all, doesn't even exist yet (it's waiting for the Lisbon Treaty to come into force). But EU leaders are planning a mid-November conclave to select someone nonetheless, and also to fill the new post of EU foreign minister (or high representative, as the job will be called in EU jargon). Plenty of horse trading will ensue. But if Europe chooses a bland, barely known former national leader for its first true president, the continent and the rest of the world will roll over in boredom and promptly ignore him or her. Thus Gordon Brown (privately) and Silvio Berlusconi (publicly) are vigorously pushing Blair forward, even as a furious anti-Blair campaign has gotten underway.

A Stop Blair Web site has already collected 38,000 signatures, and Britain's Tories are leading the charge to block him. This Conservative opposition is somewhat surprising, for when Blair's name was first floated this summer, party leader David Cameron let it be known he was comfortable with the prospect. Blair is a fierce defender of London's battered financial sector and a strong defender of the Atlantic alliance--two causes dear to the Conservatives' hearts. So Tory Tony should present no problems for a putative Prime Minister Cameron. Like-minded European leaders, such as the center-right Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, also support him. The problem seems to be with Cameron's No. 2, William Hague, who leads the popular anti-EU faction in the Conservative Party and has spent recent weeks denouncing the prospect of a President Blair. Hague fears his selection would mean the continuation of Labourism by other means. Hague even convened a meeting of EU ambassadors in London recently to lecture them on why Blair shouldn't be supported.
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Related Articles:

Rick Warren joins Tony Blair's interfaith movement

 

Concerns about Christian Post Article: "Pastor Offers a Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional"

LTRP Note: On October 15th, the Christian Post posted an article titled "Pastor Offers a Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional," which features an evangelical pastor, Jim Belcher, who proposes a "third way" other than emerging and what he calls "traditional" Christianity. You may read that article by clicking here. The following commentary by M. B. Tucker is putting to question the assumptions and hopes of Belcher and the Christian Post.

COMMENTARY
BY M.B. TUCKER


Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"

A characteristic of the 'emergent conversation' is to oversimplify or misrepresent Christians who reject the emergent movement for Biblical faith. Christian Post article, "Pastor Offers a Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional," and its subject, Jim Belcher, have committed the same error.

Pay careful attention to how they attempt to blur the lines and minimize the differences between "emergent" and "traditional" Christian church. But the differences aren't trivial. According to the article, Belcher has identified 7 key complaints he and emergents have against what they label the "traditional" church. But until you know how the complainants define those complaints, the real source of the conflict is obscured.

Moreover, using the term "traditional" to refer to that which is not "emergent" is misleading, and their definition equally misleading. In fact, it is a form of the "straw man" fallacy--presenting an erroneous description or position of the "opposition" in order to argue against the opposition. Faith isn't about "tradition," it's about Truth.

For instance, the "traditional view" of salvation, which Belcher and his companions feel is "narrow," is what Paul calls "the Gospel" in 1 Cor. 15 and elsewhere: that Christ died for men's sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that men receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life when they repent of their sins and receive Christ in faith.

What about their objection to the "traditional" necessity of "belief" before individuals are considered to be included in the church. The church according to Scripture is that group of people who have been saved by faith in Christ; someone without faith is by definition excluded from that group.

Or what is "contextualized" worship? Is not worship an attitude of life and expression of love, reverence, and faith towards God? When did God Himself cease to be the sole "context" of worship? And how is this an issue of "tradition"?

Belcher asks if there can't be unity between emergent and 'traditional'. This is the wrong question. There is always and only one body of Christ. Anyone who denies the Son has not the Father. So anyone who denies the atonement, includes in the 'fold' those who do not know Christ, or who openly and deliberately reject Him, and who presents a gospel of overcoming the symptomatic illness of this world rather than the atoning work of Christ for the sins of men, is not in unity with Christ, and therefore cannot be in unity with His church.

2 John 9:11: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

 

 

Will Safe Houses Be Needed Again?

by James Hutchens
courtesy Kjos Ministries

This week an above the fold headlines of the Washington Times stated: "Israelis may stay home to avoid arrest." The lead article went on to say, "Israel is seriously considering restricting travel to Europe by its senior officials and military officers fearing they might be arrested in the wake of a disputed U.N. report [The Goldstone Report] that accuses the Jewish state of targeting civilians in its Gaza war earlier this year."

This is but another example of the growing anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment (that Dr. Martin Luther King, in 1967, correctly labeled anti-Semitism), which many see as rising to pre-WWII levels, especially in Europe, but also in the U.S.

As a matter of fact Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu is on record as saying "It is 1930 and Iran is Germany." Others have noted the similarities of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, not only in Iran, but in Europe and even in the United States. This is particularly true with the world wide growth of Islam and its inherent antipathy toward both Jews and Christians. Speaking of the Mahdi, who is Islam's coming Messiah, Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini has declared, "The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared. Otherwise they will be killed." (Amini, Al-Iman Al-Mahdi).

Which begs the question, will safe houses be needed again? Some of our Jewish friends look realistically at what is occurring and ask, "Do we have any friends out there?" They see that Iran's President continues on-going threats to wipe Israel off the map. They see Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is on fast track. This is no idle threat. This man means what he says! Remember the sequence, first the Saturday people, the Jews, and then the Sunday people, the Christians. The Nazi concentration camps are a living testimony to this chilling truth.

Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, opened in 1933. In total, over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries were housed in Dachau of whom two-thirds were political prisoners and nearly one-third were Jews. 25,613 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and almost another 10,000 in its sub-camps. Dachau had a special "priest block." Of the 2720 priests (among them 2579 Catholic) held in Dachau, 1034 did not survive the camp. The majority were Polish (1780), of whom 868 died in Dachau. First the Saturday people then the Sunday people. Should we expect anything different if authoritarian national socialism reigns?

Prior to WWII there were about 8,300,000 Jews in Europe. Six million perished in Nazi ovens. A little over a million were able to emigrate to various countries throughout the world, including what is now Israel. Over a million survived not only in Germany but in other European countries controlled by the Third Reich. How? Christians put their lives on the line to save fellow human beings by providing safe houses for those fleeing the Nazi death machine.
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Related Information:

Media misleading on Jews evicting Arabs from Jerusalem

A Time to Remember ... Lest We Forget

 

FFRF Sues IRS, Geithner, California State over "Minister of Gospel" Tax Benefits

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes only. Lighthouse Trails in no supports the efforts of the FFRF.

"FFRF and 21 California Taxpayers File Historic Challenge"
FFRF Sues IRS, Geithner & California State over "Minister of Gospel" Tax Benefits


The national Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with 21 of its California members, has filed a nationally-significant federal lawsuit in Sacramento, challenging tax benefits for "ministers of the gospel," commonly known as "the parsonage exemption."

Ministers, who are paid in tax-free dollars, also may deduct their mortgage interest and property tax payments. Under both Federal and California law, allowances paid to "ministers of the gospel" are not treated as taxable income, unlike the situation for other taxpayers. Only "ministers of the gospel" may claim these benefits, so the statutes convey a governmental message of endorsement, unconstitutionally favoring religious employees and institutions over all others, the Foundation maintains.

The lawsuit was filed on Friday, Oct. 16 in California Eastern District Court, Sacramento office. Judge William B. Shubb will preside over the case. Attorney Richard Bolton, Madison, Wis., with local counsel Michael Newdow, Sacramento, represent the Foundation and its plaintiff members. The Madison, Wis.-based state/church watchdog serves as a national association for freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), and is the largest such association in the United States, with more than 14,000 members.

The Foundation seeks a declaration that, on their face and as administered, provisions allowing tax benefits for "ministers of the gospel," provided for by the IRS and Treasury Department, violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. FFRF requests that the Court enjoin any allowance or grant of tax benefits for ministers of the gospel under §§107 and 265(a)(6) of the Tax Code. Similarly, the Foundation challenges Sections 17131.6 and 17280(d)(2) of the California Revenue and Taxation Code, which correspond to the IRS codes, and "have the same constitutional defects and infirmities."

Defendants are Timothy Geithner, Secretary of Treasury, Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, and Selvi Stanislaus, executive officer of the California Franchise Tax Board, who are all providing tax benefits only to "ministers of the gospel," rather than to a broad class of taxpayers.
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Congress Moves to Control All U.S. Waters

By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
NewsWithViews.com

Conservatives are warning Americans about the ambitions of federal lawmakers to control all waters within the United States including those on private property, in the latest power grab by progressive politicians.

According to the American Land Rights Association, the Obama Administration and Congress are attempting to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2009 (S787) that would amend the 1972 Clean Water Act and replace the words "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States."

"The US Constitution's Tenth Amendment automatically reserves power for controlling waters to the states, not to the Oval Office and US Congress," said political strategist Mike Baker.

"This is just one more power grab by out-of-control politicians who only adhere to constitutional law when it suits them," he added.
Click here to read this entire article.

 

New at Lighthouse Trails Publishing

NEW YOUTUBE CLIP: The following is our most recent YouTube video clip. This one is featuring Holocaust survivor and Lighthouse Trails author, Anita Dittman. The video is a ten minute segment of her DVD, The Story of Anita Dittman, based on her book, Trapped in Hitler's Hell. Lighthouse Trails YouTube Video Clips courtesy of "Luke."

UPDATED WEBSITE: We have updated the Lighthouse Trails Publishing website and hope you will find it easier to navigate. You can buy any of the Lighthouse Trails books or DVDs directly from our site or order them through any online and walk in bookstore.

New Children's Series: Lighthouse Trails will now be carrying three of the Kids of Courage book series. You may check out information about them on our site.

An Anthology of Sacred Carols: We are pleased to announce that we are now carrying the beautiful classical guitar collection of carols by guitarist James Sundquist. There are 13 carols on this CD.  

 

6 More Days - 7 Year Anniversary Fall Special

 

For the month of September and October, Lighthouse Trails is offering the following special:

 A combination of any 10 titles of books/DVDs for a set price of $77.50, which is 40%-45% off the retail price of each title.

Normally, we offer 40% off the retail price on our published products when a customer buys 10 copies of any one title. With this Fall special, you may purchase any combination of our published books and DVDs, and as long as it totals 10, the price will be $77.50 (plus shipping).

This is a great chance to buy a variety of titles at wholesale prices.

 If you have any questions about this offer, please feel free to call us at 866/876-3910 or e-mail us at sales@lighthousetrails.com.

 

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