LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH           May 2, 2017     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING
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Lighthouse Trails Has Gone to Press with Taizé Book

Lighthouse Trails has gone to press with our latest book release, Taizé: A Community and Worship – An Ecumenical Reconciliation or An Interfaith Delusion? by Chris Lawson.

 

During World War II in France, a Swiss Reformed Protestant named Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche began reaching out to suffering people. Through his efforts, Taizé Community, located in Taizé, France, was birthed.

Wanting to provide an atmosphere of love, acceptance, and unity where “reconciliation” could take place between those of different beliefs and religious persuasions, “Brother Roger” created what has become an internationally recognized ecumenical monastic brotherhood where a hundred thousand mostly young people visit each year. In addition, Taizé worship services are taking place in many churches throughout the Western world.

While no one can question Brother Roger and the “Taizé Brothers” sincere desire to help others, this passion overrode a desire for biblical discernment, and they neglected to protect and uphold the Gospel message that presents a narrow way to truth, wherein salvation comes only through one Person rather than all paths leading to God. This book examines Taizé—the community and the worship—through the filter of Scripture.

Chris Lawson

Release date: May 15, 2017 |
88 pages | $10.95 |
Can be ordered through Lighthouse Trails and most major outlets and bookstores

ISBN: 978-1-942423-25-6

 

Why One Should Not Glean From Jennifer Kennedy Dean’s Prayer Studies

By Lois Putnam

On a recent Sunday morning a vivacious older lady stood in front of a congregation, of what can only be termed a solid gospel preaching, mission minded church, and announced to the women that all should sign up for its newest Bible study program that would begin shortly.  Touting both Set Apart, and Living a Praying Life she stated that the author –Jennifer Kennedy Dean–was also part of the National Day of Prayer.

At my seat –I was writing down the information–for I knew my immediate assignment as a discerning Christian was, as Acts 17:11 instructs, to look into Dean to see if all she’s taught and written stands up to scripture.  In short, “Should one glean or be learning from this writer Jennifer Kennedy Dean?”

So that very afternoon I began my investigation.  And it wasn’t long into my research that I found “red flags flying!”   So what was it that made me know that Dean, and her numerous books were  something that I should not be buying into, nor following?  Let me explain!

Dean’s “The Praying Life Foundation” Web Page 

I.  Dean’s All About “Listening Prayer” Article

Checking out Dean’s web page: “The Praying Life Foundation”–her bio, blog, articles, store, and more– soon gave me pause.  For under Dean’s store was a section titled “Free.”  Clicking onto that I found many Dean articles.  Immediately, my eye caught the title: “Listening Prayer.”  Knowing that this was a meditative practice that uses a mantra or repetitive phrase to clear one’s mind so one can “hear God’s voice” as one sits in silence I read the five pages carefully.
http://www.prayinglife.org/free/  Scroll down to find article.

Did Dean support this unscriptural prayer method?  Indeed, Dean did! For Dean began her article by saying, “Spoken prayer will not reach its potential unless it is grounded in listening prayer.  In listening prayer spoken prayer is born.”  And Dean champions going into “the silence”* when she says of the Lord, “He wants us to know his secrets, but his secrets come wrapped in silence.” (p.1)
*  The Silence:  “Absence of normal thought.”  (A Time of Departing: Glossary-p.205) Click here to continue reading.

(Lois Putnam is a Lighthouse Trails author with two booklets released thus far.)

 

 

 

Salt-Free Christianity—the Way of Today’s Church

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

We hear of all different kinds of ingredients in food that we should avoid for our health’s sake. Salt is high on the list. Today, salt is used as a flavor enhancer, but in biblical times, it had a more important purpose, it preserved meats. It was the most available way to keep meat from going bad.

And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. (Leviticus 2:13)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Your body is a living sacrifice to God when you are employed in His service. This is why Paul follows this with not being conformed to the world; if we are conformed to the world, we no longer have salt in our sacrifice.
We can’t tell someone about Jesus without having salt, especially if that person already has another way he is following. People need light, and they need salt even though salt can sting on an open wound. The Word of God is described as a two-edge sword, a hammer, and we are described as salt.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:13-14)

Of course, we need to keep in mind that to minister to someone means we need to listen, sometimes more than we speak. There is a right time to answer. Firing answers at a person after each thing you disagree with can extinguish what you want to accomplish. There is a time to be a little salt and a time to be a lot.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)

Also, salt is a seasoning with grace; it is not the main element.

On the other hand, salt left in a salt shaker on the shelf is useless. Are you salt that is being used? Or are you trampled underfoot by your enemies and just sitting on a shelf useless?

We may not be able to preserve the culture from is decline, but we can preserve individual lives by our being salt.
And yet, how many pastors and leaders are there who have lost their saltiness? There are pastors in the pulpit who avoid mentioning or pointing out what is sin—that is what I call salt-free Christianity. When you have pastors who refuse to repent for teaching wrong doctrine or for their wrongdoing to other people (and they have been confronted and do nothing in response), they have become saltless.

Salt can be removed within the church, no longer preserving biblical doctrine. Losing salt does not come overnight, it takes time. This happens when opportunities to speak out and present the truth are neglected, which begins the process. It is when worldly “tolerance” is exercised instead of biblical judgment.

It is the church of Laodicea that does not notice it has become lukewarm and saltless. Members of the Laodicean church show tolerance for any doctrinal aberration, seeking to unite with all under the name of love, peace, and unity. This backslidden church has stood for nothing for so long that it has little effect on society while at the same time, it has allowed many things contrary to Christ’s teachings to come in. Jesus is outside, knocking on the door.
Eventually God removes His lampstand from churches that do not repent.

We are being taught to be tolerant, to discern nothing, to judge nothing—that is salt-free Christianity.

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14: 34-35)

For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. (Mark 9:49-50)

As believers in Christ, let us not be part of a salt-free Christianity. We are here to preserve—what we need to be is leaven free, not salt free.

Mike Oppenheimer is the founder and director of Let Us Reason Ministries (www.letusreason.org). His website has extensive information, articles, books, and lecture DVDs on important issues affecting the church and the world.

 

 

News Article Highlights Lighthouse Trails: “A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”

LTRP Note: The following article written by veteran journalist Jim Fletcher is highlighting Lighthouse Trails. While we are so encouraged by such an article, we hesitated in posting it on our own site because we don’t want to be guilty of taking glory for ourselves when God is the one who should receive glory for anything good that comes out of this ministry. But because we’ve heard so many stories from readers trying to share our material with pastors, leaders, family, and church members only to be told “don’t listen to Lighthouse Trails,” we thought this article might help  readers share information from Lighthouse Trails. We count it a privilege to stand with you in the defense of the Gospel when doing so in today’s church and world can be very difficult.

“A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”

By Jim Fletcher

In my previous life as a book publisher editor, it was my privilege to work with important authors like Henry Morris (the “father” of the modern creationism movement) and Berit Kjos (a leading researcher into cults).

In the past two decades, Christian book publishing has descended into an ideological abyss. A willingness by that community’s leadership to allow non-believers into the fold ensured that Christian publishing would decline. Sure, record sales came from a handful of (mostly dreadful) titles (like “Jesus Calling”). Overall, though, it is quite ironic that strategic decisions made decades ago, for business reasons, signaled the beginning of the end for Christian book publishing.

Of course it exists today; dozens of publishing houses remain, and if you listen to biased researchers like Ed Stetzer, you would believe evangelical leadership is still surging, still strong.

The proof is there to see, however. Leading Christian retail bookstore chain Family Christian Stores just ended and the shockwaves from that exit will be felt for a long time.

Recently I had a publishing representative tell me that selling books to a bookstore is now “almost impossible.”

Only the most innovative houses will continue to live. One I admire greatly is the team at Lighthouse Trails Publishing. A West Coast-based company, Lighthouse Trails exists to equip the saints. There can be no greater agenda, especially today as terrible influences are flooding the American church. Click here to continue reading.

 

 

 

Lighthouse Trails Has Gone to Press with Taizé Book
Rick Warren and Brian Brodersen Prove: “A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Words”
Salt-Free Christianity—the Way of Today’s Church
News Article Highlights Lighthouse Trails: “A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”
The Shack’s Universal Papa
Letter to the Editor: AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God

Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

Remembering The Holocaust— A Question of “Tolerance”
NEW BOOKLET: 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith
Taizé Community And How it Affected My life
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Lighthouse Trails is a Christian publishing company and research project ministry. We work with a group of Christian journalists and authors, all who understand the times in which we live from a biblical perspective. While we hope you will buy and read the books and booklets we have published, watch the DVDs we have produced, and support our ministry, we also provide extensive free research, documentation, and news on our Research site, blog, e-newsletter, and now our subscription based print journal. We pray that the products as well as the online research will be a blessing to the body of Christ and a witness to those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, trusting in Him for the salvation of their souls.

 

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The Shack’s Universal Papa

By Warren B. Smith

There is nothing new about saying, “I am God.” . . . However, in the Judeo-Christian-Moslem world, God is usually not popularly understood as a universal presence, the ground of all being.1 —New Age leader David Spangler (emphasis added)


God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things [a universal presence]2—The Shack’s “Jesus” defining “Papa” as a universal New Age God (emphasis added)


I‘m not who you think I am, Mackenzie.”3—Papa, The Shack (emphasis added)


Shared Universal Presence

Ask certain indigenous peoples of the South Pacific Islands who Papa is, and they will tell you she is a female goddess4—just like The Shack’s female Papa. Ask certain Haitians, New Orleanians, and Wiccans who are into Voodoo, and they will tell you that Papa is a shapeshifting “trickster” who can appear as either a male or female deity—just like The Shack’s Papa.5 And if you ask, they will all tell you that their Papas are universal Papas who dwell “in, around, and through all things”—just like The Shack’s Papa.

photo: From L to R: Avraham Aviv Alush as “Jesus,” Sumire as “Sarayu,” Sam Worthington as “Mack” and Octavia Spencer as “Papa” in THE SHACK. Photo by Jake Giles Netter.

Papa as Earth Mother
Shack enthusiasts should take note that “Papa” is also the name of a Polynesian Earth goddess who is part of a pantheon of gods and goddesses found in the South Sea Islands. On the “Journeying to Goddess” website, under the heading “Goddess Papa,” we read that Papa is “the Earth Mother who gave birth to all things” and that “Polynesians summon Papa to help in all earthly matters.”6

In his book Unshackled, Pastor Larry DeBruyn describes how William P. Young’s “Papa” bears a striking resemblance to “the name, nature, and nurturing potential” of this Polynesian Earth goddess Papa.7 Quoting from a source on Hawaiian gods and goddesses, DeBruyn cites the references they make to the “comfort,” “care,” “guidance,” and “unconditional love,” that are given to people “in times of crisis and grief” by this Hawaiian Papa and how her “intervention instills calming reassurance and healing.”8 Young seems to parallel the same script as The Shack story wholly revolves around the comfort, care, guidance, and unconditional love that is given by Papa to his main character, Mack, during his time of crisis and grief—how Papa’s intervention instills calming reassurance and the ultimate healing of Mack’s “Great Sadness.”9

Another website elaborates on how the female Polynesian Papa “worshiped by Native Hawaiians” is regarded as “a primordial force of creation who has the power to give life and to heal.”10 A pagan site informs us that a Papa goddess is especially prevalent amongst the Maoris of New Zealand,11 while another site references a South Seas Papa as part of the mythology of the Southern Cook Islands group.12 While Young obviously put a lot of thought into the naming of his Shack characters, and even though he spent his early childhood living on the South Pacific Island of Papua New Guinea,13 he claims to have had no knowledge of this South Seas Papa goddess prior to his writing of The Shack.14

Papa as Trickster
Certain Haitian, New Orleanian, and Wiccan Voodoo practitioners are devoted to a spiritual “Papa” who can appear as both “male and female” and is known as the “trickster.”15 By simply googling “Papa” and “trickster,” a variety of websites emerge to describe this Papa Legba spirit that stands at the gateway to the spirit world. One of these sites—“Exemplore”—states that Papa Legba “is one of the most widely served African deities” and “is always the first and last spirit invoked in any ceremony” because “he opens and closes the doorway to the spirit world.” 16 The site explains that in Voodoo, “Papa” is “the intermediary” who “stands at a spiritual crossroads and grants or denies permission to speak with the spirits of Guinee.”17

On the same Exemplore site, in a special section for witches, Papa is described as a “master shape shifter” who “can help you transform on the astral realm, master dream powers, and advanced magics.”18 But in regards to Papa, it states that “in his shapeshifter form he tends to change genders and forms to delight himself. So don’t be surprised if a woman shows up to help you.”19 And just as Young’s female Papa and the South Seas islands female Papa can be summoned for help, comfort, and healing, this Voodoo trickster Papa can be similarly called upon. One of the posted comments on this witches part of the site states—“Anyone can summon Papa!”20 But sometimes this Voodoo Papa comes when he is not summoned. In another comment, a perplexed woman wrote—“I did not know about Papa at all until he presented his self to me as my spirit guide. Is this normal?”21 A posted reply assured her that “Papa does his own thing his own way, so if he presented himself to you, you can be sure it is him.”22 Another site expressed the confusion that can result from a female ”God” named Papa—“It’s so confusing because Papa is a Mama.”23 But Scripture assures us that the one true God is “not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is not a Papa who is a Mama which art in a shack—He is “our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).

Praying to Which Papa?
So what Papa are people invoking when they are inspired to pray to Papa after reading The Shack? Is Young presenting Shack readers with the true God of the Bible or with a generic Papa “God” that overlaps with all the other mamas and papas and gods and goddesses around the world? The Shack’s “Jesus” answers that question loud and clear for any Shack reader who has a heart for the truth. With words purposefully put in his mouth by Young—a self-described universalist24—The Shack’s “Jesus” proclaims that his Papa “God” is “the ground of all being” because he “dwells in, around, and through all things.”25 In other words,  The Shack’s Jesus says that the Shack’s Papa indwells everyone and everything. This is the same universal God that David Spangler describes in the  beginning quote of this article. But this is panentheism, and this is a lie. This is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New Worldview that has been rapidly emerging both in the world and in the church. All of this is to say—The Shack’s Papa is a universal Papa and The Shack’s “God” is a counterfeit “God” who has cunningly wormed his way into an unsuspecting church.

Trickster Book
As seen with the Voodoo Papa, some of these mama and papa gods and goddesses are also “tricksters.” And they are definitely doing their trickster thing—which often entails cleverly undermining existing societal rules and established religious beliefs as they offer their unique brand of spiritual healing in the name of a more universal alternative spirituality. What can be especially deceptive is that much of their rebellious spiritual activity is cloaked in half-truths, clever remarks, playful humor—and even Christian language. And what seems all too apparent is that The Shack—and particularly The Shack’s Papa—fall into this trickster category. The novel grabs people’s hearts and minds even as biblical Christianity is being dismantled in front of them as they read the book. And only a trickster book can convince people they are reading about Jesus Christ when the name of Christ is never mentioned—not even once—in the entire story. A generic universal Jesus and a generic universal Papa and not a single mention of Christ, or the Devil for that matter—yet The Shack has already become one of the most popular Christian books ever written!

Trickster books for the church will use Christian language to pull the wool over your eyes so they mess with your mind—it’s all part of “messing around” and being a trickster. Toward the end of The Shack’s story, when the female Papa shapeshifts into being a male Papa, Mack asks if Papa is “still messing” with him. Papa’s immediate answer is—“Always.”26 At this point, sincere readers of The Shack need ask themselves a reasonable question—“Is the one true God of the Bible always “messing” with us, or is this what you would expect from a universal gender-bending trickster Papa “God” who bears more of a resemblance to the trickster god of this world than the one true God of the Bible.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Endnotes (Caution: Some of the endnotes in this article are from occultic websites.)
1. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Sante Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 148.
2. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
3. Ibid., p. 96.
4. Part Three: The Chiefs xx Papa and Wakea, http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/hm22.htm | Godchecker website: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?list-gods-names.
5. Denise M Alvarado, “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Who is Papa Legba?, Images of Legba, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
6. https://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/goddess-papa/, “Goddess Papa” September 19, 2012.
7. Larry DeBruyn, Unshackled: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality (Indianapolis, IN: Franklin Road Baptist Church, 2009), pp. 27-28. Author’s reference pertains to the now archived Wahine’o Wanana Institute’s “Hawaiian Goddesses” website: https://web-beta.archive.org/web /20110410205614/http://www.powersthatbe.com /goddess/papa.html.
8. Ibid.
9. William P. Young, op. cit.,  pp. 43-66, p. 92, pp. 96-98, pp. 101-102.
10. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papahanaumoku
11. The Goddess Papa, http://www.holladaypaganism.com/goddesses/cyclopedia/p/PAPA.HTM.
12. Wikipedia: Papa (mythology)— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_(mythology).
13. Wm. Paul Young—About (http://wmpaulyoung.com/wm-paul-young-about).
14. Eric Barger, “Why The Shack Must be Rejected” (Lamp & Lion Ministries, Lamplighter, May 2017, http://christinprophecyblog.org/2017/04/why-the-shack-must-be-rejected),  pp. 13-14.
15. “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Exemplore blog, Images of Legba, Who is Papa Legba?, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. “Papa Legba for Witches,” How Legba Can Help You (https://exemplore.com/wicca-witchcraft/papa-legba-for-witches)
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to babygirl1414)
21. Ibid., Posted Comments (jacynnavarro)
22. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to jacynnavarro)
23. http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?deity=PAPA
24. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2017), pp. 118-119 (Young states that he believes in universal salvation.)
25. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 218.
26. merriam-webster.com and encyclopedia.com (ousia)

Author Bio:

Warren B. Smith (B.A. University of Pennsylvania; M.S.W. Tulane University)—A free lance writer and community social worker who was formerly involved in the New Age movement. He has served as a program coordinator for people with special needs, directed several homeless programs, and has worked as a Hospice social worker in New Orleans and on the California coast. He has written extensively on the subject of spiritual deception and has spoken on radio, television, and at seminars and conferences.

 

Letter to the Editor: AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God

LTRP Note: Today, the church is “reaping the fruit” of nearly 40 years of Spiritual Formation influence (since Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline was released in 1978). Lighthouse Trails has warned its readers on a number of occasions about the direction AWANA children’s club is going with regard to contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) (see links below). In the letter to the editor (below our note), you can see that AWANA is now teaching children to “listen to God” (the goal in contemplative prayer).

We thought AWANA clubs purpose was to teach children the Word of God through memorization. Since when did they take it upon themselves to teach children to listen to God’s voice in two-way conversations during prayer? Is this not a gateway into Christian mysticism?

Regardless of what one believes about hearing God’s voice outside of Scripture, how is it AWANA’s place to teach children to engage in possibly dangerous “conversations”? Will they also be teaching children about discerning of spirits (that is, testing the spirits – 1 John 4:1-6) and that there are demonic spirits that are “speaking” to people? We hope so. AWANA is supposed to be teaching children the Word of God, helping children to store up God’s Word in their hearts. They now want to teach them how to take part in subjective mystical experiences. Remember, this is coming from an organization that has been promoting Spiritual Formation for several years. How can we trust them to teach children this? Will it not surely be slanted by proponents of contemplative spirituality?

Those who disagree with our posting this about AWANA are certainly entitled to that. But we have been researching AWANA for several years, and we believe this “listening to God” theme is just another stepping stone into dangerous mystical spirituality. Are we saying we do not believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life? No. But we do not believe that there is some kind of taught art (i.e., technique, method, system) in listening to God’s voice as so many in the church are promoting today, just as we do not believe that Christians are supposed to go into a silent state of mind so they can really hear God. If these “practices” were so important to God and so essential to us, why aren’t they taught in the Bible? When the disciples wrote the New Testament, there is nothing to indicate that they sat in stillness entering some sort of sacred space and then began a kind of channeled writing. No. Rather, God inspired them through His Holy Spirit and led them to write the things they did.

Obviously, the parent who contacted us and wrote the letter to the editor is very concerned. And we are too. If you have children or grandchildren who participate in AWANA, we strongly urge you to examine all AWANA literature and teaching tools carefully as well as discuss your concerns with your children’s AWANA leaders, and make sure they understand the dangers of contemplative spirituality.

The big emphasis in today’s church is, “Hear God’s Voice!” It’s all about feel-good and mystical experiences. It is a great tragedy that the focus isn’t on “Know God’s Word” and allow the Lord through His Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Thanks for warning us about AWANA.  I have been keeping an eye on their materials thanks to you.  AWANA’s new T&T book Mission: Evidence of Grace is coming out in July 2017.  Here are some quotes from “Section 4.2: Prayer” in the Student Handbook.

“Ask your friend to have a conversation, but keep talking and don’t let the other person speak … Ask how it felt when you wouldn’t stop talking.”

“Ask a parent or guardian: “Have you ever been friends with someone who did all the talking when you were together?  How did you feel when this happend [sic]?”

“God wants us to have a relationship with Him.  One way this relationship grows is when we talk to God and listen to God.  This is called prayer.”  (Emphasis added.)

“To have a relationship with another person, you have to communicate—to talk with each other.  The same is true of your relationship with God.”

“It is important to remember that a conversation involves two people talking.  We need to make sure that we are taking time to listen to God speak to us too.” (Emphasis added.)

“When you pray do you listen, as well as talk to God?”

You can download the sample at

http://awanatt.org/assets/files/EOG_Handbook-Sample_ESV.pdf

–Tammy

Related Information:

If you want to understand contemplative prayer and Spiritual Formation, read the following booklets: 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer  and  Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why It Shouldn’t)

2007 – Special Alert: Awana Embraces Contemplative

2012 – Revisting Awana’s Move Toward Contemplative – And Another Look at “Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation

2016 – A History of AWANA’s Contemplative Track Record and the Implications of Their New CEO

Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

By Roger Oakland

While I believe Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, these groups see themselves as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.

Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.

While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:9-12)

The following list of some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:

Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).

The church is the new Israel (replacement theology).

Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.

The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.

We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.

Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”

Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.

They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.1

This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.

While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:

Then said one unto him [Jesus], Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:23-25)

Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”

It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.2

In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In his book, he makes the following statement:

Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.3

In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:

This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.4 (emphasis added)

While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.

What Does This Tell Us?
Efforts are underway to establish the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?

While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?

Endnotes:
1. Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3295).
2. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 006); Part 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20090103090514/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://web.archive.org/web/20060127003305/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com).
3. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
4. Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.

Remembering The Holocaust— A Question of “Tolerance”

(April 24th 2017 was Holocaust Memorial Day) Those who follow the writings of Lighthouse Trails know we hold a special place in our hearts regarding the remembrance of the Holocaust, and indeed we have two Holocaust survivors for authors (one a Jewish Christian and one a resistance worker). Three if you count Corrie ten Boom’s book we publish, In My Father’s House. What we are about to say is prompted because of our commitment to bring the things of darkness to the light.

During the preparation of our two Holocaust books (Trapped in Hitler’s Hell and Things We Couldn’t Say), we turned to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) for photographs of the Holocaust that we could use in our books. The USHMM has thousands of photos, which are proof against any delusion that the Holocaust never happened. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well think of what thousands of pictures are. So the world should be ever grateful to this Museum that has done well to preserve the past with the hope that such would never happen again.

During the 2009 Holocaust Remembrance Day observations, when we learned that the USHMM had asked then-president Barack Obama to be the keynote speaker for their ceremony, we realized that the true message of Holocaust remembrance was being lost. We could see that the true message is being replaced with ideologies of “tolerance,” unification, globalism, and so forth. A 2009 press release put out by the USHMM stated:

“We are honored that President Obama will participate in our Days of Remembrance ceremony,” said Fred S. Zeidman, Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “At this critical moment, with hatred and anti-Semitism on the rise in so many parts of the world, and genocide still a reality, we are reminded of the continued relevance of the Holocaust and the urgency of its lessons. What the Holocaust teaches us with such moral clarity is the power of the individual and the responsibility we all have to not stand silent in the face of injustice.”

The Bible says that unless a person is born again, he cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit. So we understand why the world views things the way they do, but unfortunately they have missed the real reason why the Holocaust happened, and why it may possibly happen again. While liberals and homosexuals are cashing in on the new Holocaust message of tolerance in order to propagate their agendas, the real meaning is being buried and ignored by most.

This true message is found within the pages of Scripture. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Jews, and in the New Testament, God offered man a promise of salvation and eternal life for all who accepted the new covenant, which was sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection. Within the pages of Scripture are details about God’s enemy, Satan, who hates God’s covenant with man. From the beginning of the Jewish people, they have been hated by Satan, and after the resurrection, when Christianity began, he has hated Christians as well.

The wrath that was poured out by Hitler, particularly to Jews (and anyone who helped them, of which many were Christians) was instigated, not because Hitler wasn’t “tolerant” or because he wasn’t a “globalist.” It was because he was indwelled with an anti-Christ spirit that hates anything to do with the covenant God has made with man. As the Bible explains, Lucifer (Satan) has the aspiration of being “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14). The Bible says he is the father of lies, confusion, and every evil thing. Christians who have studied the Holocaust and read about the horrible rage that was released against the Jews know that no one man could have done this alone. We understand that Hitler was demonically inspired.

The “tolerance” message deceives people into thinking that it cares about people being treated equally and justly, but in reality it is an anti-God, anti-freedom message. Hidden within its core is the idea that no one belief system can be the only way to God or truth; hidden within its core is an anti-Christ zeal that determines to lash out against God’s covenant with man. For instance, to say Christianity is true and Islam isn’t would be seen as intolerance and therefore evil. But in essence, both belief systems are diametrically opposite of each other (even though they may share certain moral values) to how one is brought into a right relationship with God. Islam portrays human effort as being the primary catalyst for such a relationship, whereas Christianity’s emphasis is on a Savior who puts a person in a right relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, not of man’s own doing. Since Islam rejects this, a devout Christian has to reject Islam. Thomas Merton knew that doctrinally the two beliefs could never come together; he came to believe that it was only through mysticism they could unite. In Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing he discloses Merton’s views on this:

In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:

“Islam . . . does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.”

To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana [becoming one with God through meditation] and contemplation were the same thing. He responded:

“Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas … in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . .  But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light [mysticism] . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam.”1 (emphasis added)

Merton was basically saying that the doctrine of redemption and atonement through Christ was “of little value.” This also reflects the view of the emerging church that tolerance (and unity) is more virtuous than faith, and that faith can actually be unvirtuous. As illustrated in the movie, Doubt, doubt and uncertainty unites. The priest in Doubt does a homily on doubt, and the fundamentalist in the movie (played by Meryl Streep) sees that as dangerous but in the end, she herself doubts. The point of the film is that uncertainty is good. Father Flynn is a Thomas Merton type priest in the sense that firm conviction is not necessarily a good thing. This is consistent with the emerging church and where emergent leader Tony Jones says in his book, The New Christians, that uncertainty (including uncertainty of Scripture) is better than certainty and where Brian McLaren says we still haven’t got the Gospel right.2

The world thinks that if it teaches “tolerance,” that the Holocaust will never happen again. But the very message behind this kind of “tolerance” could actually cause it to happen again because tolerance, according to the world, is against the God of the Old and New Testament and against the people with whom He has made a covenant.

But until Jesus Christ returns, which He has promised to do, Satan will be free to attack and destroy. The Bible says that as the days of Christ’s return draw closer, what takes place in the world will be like the birth pangs of a woman in labor. The pangs intensify the closer the birth becomes. And that is why spiritual deception continues to expand, quite quickly now.

While we have appreciated the efforts of the USHMM to preserve the evidence of the Holocaust, we are disappointed that they have latched onto the “tolerance” message that ultimately will reject the Jews and the Christians.

We must add something here too about homosexual activists, because they are the strongest and most out-spoken group for “tolerance.” But they have used the Holocaust and many of its stories, such as The Diary of Anne Frank, to compare their “plight” with that of the Jews in World War II. While it may be true that Hitler did eventually lash out against homosexuals, a number of the prominent Nazis, such as Ernst Rohm, were homosexuals. For those who may be skeptical, read the following, which is from William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, perhaps the best work ever written on understanding Hitler:

He who was so monumentally intolerant by his very nature, was strangely tolerant of one human condition—a man’s morals. No other party in Germany came near to attracting so many shady characters. As we have seen, a conglomeration of pimps, murderers, homosexuals, alcoholics and blackmailers flocked to the party as if to a natural haven.3

Later, pressure was put on Hitler to rid his organization of these types. But he was not intolerant of the homosexuals—that wasn’t why he turned on them. Hitler was intolerant of anything that stood in his way to bring about a super race of people that excluded, in particular, the Jews and those who loved them.

We want to make one thing clear. While we reject the “tolerance” message of today’s society, Lighthouse Trails does not advocate persecution of people of any race, religion, or persuasion. We do not believe any person should be treated with hateful or cruel behavior, either physically or verbally. What we are trying to get across is that the tolerance message is too binding in a theological sense and restricts the preaching of the Gospel. It will never work for biblical Christianity because, as Christians, we have to insist that the blood of Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled with God, and the tolerance message rejects such an approach.

Some may wonder how this all ties in with Obama speaking for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum ceremony. Former president Obama represents a new kind of “Christianity,” one that looks more like Brian McLaren’s spirituality than biblical Christianity and one that lines up with the “tolerance” message in that Obama believes that other religions are legitimate paths to God:

Obama does clearly believe that the form of Christianity that he committed to at Trinity Church in 1985 is not the only path to God. “I am rooted in the Christian tradition,” he has said. Nevertheless he asserts, “I believe there are many paths to the same place and that is a belief there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.” He first saw his broad embrace of faith modeled by his mother. “In our household,” he has explained, “The Bible, [t]he Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf . . . on Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to a church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”4

It is the following words that Satan hates and does all he can to destroy, but try as he might, he never will. It is the light that shines in a dark world. And a merciful, patient God calls out.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father [God], but by me. (John 14:6)

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4: 9-10)

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Revelation 1:5)

It is our prayer that many Jews around the world will come to see Jesus Christ as their Messiah and not be deceived by the world’s idea of tolerance that in the end will hate them and persecute them. Historically, the Jewish people have been a trusting people . . .  this is one message we hope they won’t buy into.

Endnotes:
1. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed. 2006) p. 59, citing Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 110.
2. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), p. 293.
3. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Simon & Schuster, 1990), pp. 121-122.
4. Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of Barack Obama (Thomas Nelson) p. 55, quoting from Audacity of Hope, Obama, p. 203.

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

NEW BOOKLET: 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith, click here.

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

By Berit Kjos

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

ONE: Be Alert & Always Keep on Praying

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

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

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

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

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

TWO: Know What Your Child Is Learning in School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does it include a blatant pro-homosexual slant?

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

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

THREE: Share God’s Values With Your Children

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

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

Explore the meaning of values:

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

Discuss what God says about things He loves:

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

Discuss what God says about things He hates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIX: Encourage Your Child To Choose the Good

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

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

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

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

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

SEVEN: Train Your Child to Follow God, Not Peers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EIGHT: Training Children to Love Good and Resist Evil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taizé Community And How it Affected My life

By David Dombrowski
Chief Editor of Lighthouse Trails Publishing

As one of the editors of Chris Lawson’s new book, Taizé—A Community and Worship: An Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?, I was asked if I would write the foreword because I have a very curious history with Taizé in France. No, I have never been there, and what little I knew of it had nearly been forgotten when Chris Lawson’s book came across my desk. And yet, in an indirect way, Taizé has had a major impact on my life.

Before I explain all this, let me use an analogy of what transpired. In some ways, my life as a Christian has been like a battleground, but in my younger years, I was never too anxious to fight. Often, I was one of many who stood on the sidelines and just observed. But I’ve learned that this is not really a safe place to be; and when it comes to Taizé, I got caught in the crossfire.

Yes, I am a casualty to Taizé, but at the time, I did not realize from whence that flaming missile came. After reading this book by Chris, I now understand.

Let me share some memories of what happened. Having been raised Roman Catholic and entering my twenties, I was very familiar with what I would later realize as the bondage of Roman Catholicism—bondage to guilt, bondage to sinful habits and attitudes, but most especially, bondage to a false gospel of salvation (i.e., through participation of sacraments and good works).

When I was drafted into the U.S. Army at twenty years old, I experienced a spiritual crisis, and through meeting a born-again Christian fellow soldier and reading the Bible, I came to understand justification by grace through faith and of being born of God’s Spirit. I surrendered my life to the Lord as He captivated my heart and my life.

After this, I had a burning desire to serve the Lord for the rest of my life—in no matter what capacity God called me to. After my time in the service ended, an opportunity arose for me to join a Christian community composed of a group of Christians who served the Lord together. I wanted this because I felt I could serve the Lord better by working with other Christians rather than trying to serve the Lord alone.

I became an integral part of this community after getting to know the elder (second only to the senior elder) and meeting one of the members who had just returned from spending a year in France at a place called Taizé. He was very excited about his experience; but when he shared with me some of the “insights” he gained at Taizé (notably that doctrine was not important as long as there was unity), I expressed my concern that doctrine should be very important. He seemed offended with this and henceforth always distanced himself from me, but he and the elder I mentioned spent much time together in private discussions.

Photo: From Creative Commons; photo taken by Maciej Biłas; used with permission.

Fast-forward six years, for I had been with this Christian community for that length of time. The senior elder (who was also the founder) of the community had just been booted out. The other elder called it “discipline,” but as it turned out, he was never to come back. The elder, who largely headed up the disciplinary action, told the expelled senior elder he could return after he “repented,” but the fact is, our senior elder had nothing to repent of. You see, most of the leadership of the community had secretly conspired that all of us should become Catholic. Since the senior elder would not endorse such a move, they removed him. Eventually, they got rid of me too because I could not in good conscience go back to the Catholic Church.

During this time, a lot of upheaval took place whereby two of the married men were also kicked out of the community; in each case the wife and children stayed behind, the husbands never to see their wives again. The senior pastor (who had been expelled) had a married daughter with children, whom he never saw again; he died with a broken heart because of the estrangement from his daughter and grandchildren. Basically, this community had become a cult that had deceptively transformed itself from a loving Christian ministry into a Roman Catholic cloister.

Not long before I left the community, the elder, who had been conferring with the member who had been to Taizé, confided in me that becoming Catholic had been discussed privately years earlier. But the elder had told him and other members, “it’s not time yet!” As I read and helped edit this book on Taizé, I realized for the first time that Taizé had been perhaps the biggest catalyst in propelling the community I had once so dearly loved into Catholicism. When I learned that tens of thousands of young people go to Taizé every year, I knew we had no choice but to publish this warning.

Related:

Lighthouse Trails Has Gone to Press with Taize Book by Chris Lawson

 

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