To Lighthouse Trails and readers:
As I stood at the bedside of my dad in a hospital, in shock at his unexpected passing, I looked up at the wall, and there on the whiteboard was written, “Last rites- 2:00 pm.”
I had spent two and a half months visiting daily in the hospital while my dad struggled in intensive care. Though I was raised Catholic, I had become a Christian when I was a teenager and always hoped I would have an opportunity to tell my dad about salvation.
During the time I spent visiting my dad at the hospital, which was several hours from my home, I had started reading my long-neglected Bible more diligently to fill the long evenings. During the day, I wandered around the hospital or sat in the waiting room when I was not allowed to wait in my dad’s room. As I walked around the hospital, I noticed a Muslim prayer room, a Catholic prayer room, an Indian spirituality room, a labyrinth designed into the pattern of a carpet in a large public area, a Sikh memorial room, a poster for Meditation – but nothing that could be connected to my Protestant faith, but indeed, I no longer knew with certainty what I believed. I had been following every wind of doctrine for so long that confusion had replaced conviction. If my dad had wanted to know about salvation, I am not sure I would have been able to explain it clearly.
After my dad passed away, I was frustrated and distraught. When I got home I kept reading my Bible. One of the first things I tried to figure out was salvation. It had come to be more complicated than simply trusting that Jesus paid my debt and I was to believe in Him. I had to get back the simplicity that was in Christ. Now that I was beginning to understand my Bible better, when I was able to attend church again, church started sounding funny. I was hearing words like sacrament, Listening Prayer, Lent, social justice and Mother Teresa. Since I was raised Catholic, some of these were familiar words, and some of them were words I learned later were associated with Catholicism. After a while, I went in to see the pastor of our Christian and Missionary Alliance Church and asked him, “How come so many Catholic things are coming into the church?” I tried to explain my concerns but he did not seem to understand.
I started taking my Bible to church and following along, something I had not done for many years – and something that was normal to me years ago now felt awkward. It seemed most people did not carry a Bible anymore. Now I noticed that occasionally the Bible was not used at all in services or perhaps for only one or two verses. I started researching nearly every name, every book, and every event that the church promoted. The pastor said, “We do Listening Prayer.” I started warning people not to do it when I found out its association with eastern mysticism and contemplative prayer. That resulted in the leadership asking my husband and I to humbly resign from teaching Sunday school.
Then at some point, I noticed that the pastors started promoting Rightnow Media, an online resource described as the “Netflix of Christian Bible study,” which proclaimed it was “revolutionizing ministry in over 15,000 churches.” Every Sunday at church, it is advertised on the overhead and also verbally on occasion. From what I understand from their website, churches subscribe to it, pay their subscription according to the size of their church, and customize it so their congregation can only access what the pastors want them to see. I researched some of the speakers advertised on Rightnow Media and noticed many of them were people that discernment ministries warned about such as Rick Warren, several IF:Gathering speakers including Ann Voskamp and Shawna Niequist, Beth Moore, Gary Thomas, Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, John Piper, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Andy Stanley, etc.
Rightnow Media also has a series called Hearing God. Although the title says Dallas Willard, the speaker in the session is Richard Foster who heavily promotes contemplative prayer. Rick Warren has a platform at Rightnow Media as well.
Churches seem to be accepting Rightnow Media in droves if my searches to see which churches have offered it are any indication.
Then last month the church started advertising a one-day streaming “Work as Worship Retreat” on February 23, 2018. As usual, I started researching the speakers. The first one on the list was Patrick Lencioni. His biography on Rightnow Media did not indicate anything unusual, but I checked out his YouTube videos, and one of the first things he says is that he is a practicing Catholic. I then learned he also cofounded an organization called “The Amazing Parish.” On that website, he prays to Mary, and in one of the Amazing Parish’s videos by Jeff Cavins called Compelling Formation, Mr. Cavins refers to the Ignatian Spiritual practices of the Examen and Lectio Divina ( starting about the 22 minute mark). [LT Note: Patrick Lencioni is also a frequent speaker at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summits.]
I also came across another name on Rightnow Media, Chris Lowney. He is on one of their pages called “Centered” with no warning that he is a Catholic and also has Jesuit training. But I found this page, also called “Centered” with Chris Lowney on a decidedly Catholic website, and it plainly says he is Jesuit trained. He also teaches Ignatian business principles.
Catholicism is so very opposite of true Christianity. If one is a true student of the Catholic Church, then Mary is elevated to the status of Jesus as co-mediatrix; The Pope’s word is elevated above the Word of God; and people canonized by the Catholic Church and called saints are called upon in a Catholic’s prayer – all so very opposite of true Christianity. I wonder if many of the Protestant and evangelical churches using Rightnow Media realize it is slipping in Catholic teachers (not to mention the contemplative/emergent teachers). We, as Bible believers, are exhorted to “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
By the time I had seen the handwriting on the wall, it was too late for my dad. In the book of Daniel, Chapter 5, when King Belshazzar drank from the vessels taken from the temple and then praised the gods of silver and gold, in that same hour, the fingers of a man’s hand wrote upon the plaster of the wall, and by then, it was too late for Belshazzar, and he lost his life that night. My hope is that people will see the writing on this wall. I am not saying it is too late now – but the Bible says there is coming a time when it will be too late (Isaiah 55:6).
And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:10-11; see also Isaiah 55:6)
The Bible gives us warning about false teachers many times:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.(2 Timothy 3:13)
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
But we have no excuse for not knowing the truth. We have the Bible:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:21)
We are warned in the Bible that that deception will happen. And it is happening all around us; but God has given us “the weapons of our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:4), the Rock upon which to stand (Psalm 18:2), and the armor to battle against it (Ephesians 6:11-20).
Rightnow Media is mixing grievous errors with truth then feeding it to gullible sheep, promoting it as quality teaching, and somehow convincing churches to subscribe. It allows the pastors to adjust what their flock can access so that the flock can feed on the proper denominational nutrition when they come to feed at its trough. Their presentation is high quality, catchy, enthusiastic, and very hard to discern where it goes wrong. Parents are happy because now they feel their children can have access to biblical programming that the parents do not have to monitor. My hope is that Rightnow Media will be exposed mostly so that people do not blindly trust its teaching.
Rightnow Media is part of the deception, but it is simply another piece of the puzzle in a web of deception.