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January 17, 2012
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Six Years Later – Focus on the Family Still Defending Contemplative Prayer

LTRP Note: The following letter to the LT editor and the response this person received from Focus on the Family is used with permission from our reader. Important to note that FOF’s response is similar to the response FOF was giving back in 2006 (when we received a letter from them) when asked why they were promoting Richard Foster and Gary Thomas and where they stood regarding contemplative spirituality in general. In comparison, the 2011 response from FOF is more detailed than the 2006 letter from the same FOF staff member (Tim Masters from the Executive Office) but is essentially saying the same thing. Worth noting, the arguments that Masters gives in defense of contemplative prayer have been scripturally refuted by Lighthouse Trails authors, showing how contemplative advocates have taken Bible verses and used them out of context. We have given references to a number of those refutations below.

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I just wanted to thank you for all the work you put into getting the truth out.  I look forward to every single newsletter and have learned so much from you all – and continue to!  Without you I’m afraid I’d be as misguided about contemplative prayer as most Christians are.

Also I’d like to thank you for your alert about Focus on the Family.  After reading in the newsletter about their attempt to sell this lie to kids I promptly quit giving financially to them and explained to them why.  I’d like to forward you the email response I received from them.  It saddened and alarmed me.  More and more well known names in Christianity are promoting this lie  - many actually claiming that they’re not doing it!  Please read this email I received from FOF.

 Thank you again and I join with you in praying against this lie.  (name withheld)

Letter from Focus on the Family –

Dear Friend: Thank you for writing to Focus on the Family.  It was good of you to contact us with your candid concerns about our ministry’s involvement with what has sometimes been called “contemplative prayer.”  Thoughtful, honest feedback like yours is always welcome here at Focus headquarters.  We’re happy to have this opportunity to respond to the thoughts you’ve shared.

While we appreciate your input, we also feel bound to inform you that you are mistaken on a couple of different fronts.  To begin with, your assertion that Focus on the Family is “promoting” contemplative prayer and spirituality is neither fair nor accurate.  Yes, we have occasionally referenced speakers and authors who deal with subjects of this nature – individuals such as Richard Foster, Larry Crabb, and Beth Moore.  But none of this, in our opinion, amounts to “promoting” contemplative prayer.  The truth of the matter is that we have far too much else on our plate to become involved in any such activity.  The heart of our outreach is practical family ministry.        

That said, we also find it hard to understand why any particular method of prayer should be regarded as “a dangerous deviation from sound Bible practices.”  After all, there are probably as many different ways of praying as there are people offering prayers.  Besides, there is nothing unbiblical or anti-Christian about solitude, silence, and contemplation.  Far from it!  After all, it was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire that the Lord spoke to Elijah, but rather in the “still, small voice” of intimate, personal communion (1 Kings 19:12) [see our note below on 1 Kings 19:12*].  David highlights the value of this type of spiritual discipline in Psalm 4:4, where he writes, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”  Another Psalmist similarly represents the Lord as exhorting His people to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  And Jesus Himself, who lived and breathed the Old Testament Scriptures, often retired to quiet, secluded spots in the wilderness or on the mountain where He could converse with His Father apart from the noise and distraction of the crowd (see Mark 1:35).  In time, His disciples learned to follow His example in this regard.    

On the basis of this firm biblical foundation, a strong tradition of Christian contemplation and mysticism has grown up within the church over the past 2,000 years – a tradition that has nothing whatsoever to do with “dangerous” New Age spirituality.  Many of the early church fathers of the first three centuries of the Christian era – men like Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, John Chrysostom, and Anthony of Egypt – were contemplatives who had mystical experiences in prayer.  It is even possible to trace this strain of spirituality to the apostles themselves:  Peter, for example, who saw visions on the roof of the house of Simon the Tanner (Acts 10:9-16), or Paul, who speaks of having been “caught up to the third heaven” where he “heard inexpressible words which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), or John, whose encounter with the risen Christ while “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” gave us the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9).[see "Does God Sanction Mystical Experiences?"]  In our view, it’s not the form or style of such experiences, nor the methods or techniques of prayer that precede them, that should determine their legitimacy, but rather their content and the degree to which they either do or do not bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. [See our article on Intent.]

We hope this reply has clarified our perspective for you.  Thanks again for caring enough to contact us.  Don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of any further assistance.  God bless you.   

 Timothy Masters

Focus on the Family

LTRP Notes:

* The following explanation about I Kings 19:12 is from Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing.

Question: Isn’t I Kings 19:12 an example of when contemplative prayer is condoned in Scripture? Elijah heard a “still, small voice.” Isn’t that referring to the silence?

Answer: This passage in no way indicates that Elijah was practicing a mantra exercise. On the contrary, it was the prophets of Baal who “called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, ‘O Baal, hear us!” (I Kings 18:26). Now Elijah was in a cave, not to practice contemplative prayer, but to hide from Jezebel’s threat to take his life. Also, his encounter with God was something he did not initiate but God initiated Himself, thereby emphasizing that Elijah was not practicing a mantra. If anything, from his conversation with God, we might conclude that he was also hiding from his ministry and God Himself, as he was feeling hopeless.

Related Stories:

Letter from Focus on the Family: Takes Lighthouse Trails with a “healthy dose of salt” & defends contemplative Gary Thomas

Letter to Editor: Does Beth Moore Still Promote Contemplative Prayer?

Serious Concerns for Focus on the Family Marriage Conference

Trevor Baker –Step Back (The Museum)

We have been spotlighting Trevor Baker, Canadian song writer, singer, and defender of the faith for the past couple months. This week, we are featuring his song "Step Back (The Museum)" from his album Unwanted Treasure. Here are the lyrics below. You can listen to 30 second clips of this song and other songs from his album, Unwanted Treasure by clicking here.

Step Back (The Museum)

Let's go in the museum
Take a look at how it was back then
We could study the Christians
See how it must have been
What caused their survival?
Made them pass along the faith that we have
Step back in the past
And see what the Church once had

Look, there’s a Bible
They say they thought it was all true
Don’t see many professors
That cuts down on the points of view
You see they clung to that old Bible
They weren’t in need of some religious fad
Step back in the past
And see what the Church once had

Chorus

They had pure, undivided faith
Their hearts were sure
When they stood to state their case
They had both feet
On the right side of the fence
If you offered them this world
They wouldn’t give two cents

Look over here
There’s a book with all the hymns they’d sing
And over there a church bell they used to ring
And oh how they’d love to gather
With faith like a child would have
Step back in the past
And see what the Church once had

See the old revival shot
Primitive as all can be
They preached fire and brimstone
Somehow it made the people free
They didn’t have much education
Somehow that doesn’t make me sad
Step back in the past
And see what the Church once had

Our tour is over now
Admission here is always free
We’re open day and night
You don’t even need a key
We trust your mind was challenged
And that your heart was glad
As you stepped into the past
And saw what the Church once had

 

 


Six Years Later – Focus on the Family Still Defending Contemplative Prayer
Trevor Baker –Step Back (The Museum)
Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice
100 Top Contemplative Proponents Evangelical Christians Turn To Today
The New Age – Religion or Science?: “Shhh, don’t tell anybody!”
Mark Driscoll under fire over sexually-explicit guide to marriage
Roman Catholic Washington Governor Gregoire supports gay marriage bill
Countering the Counter Reformation in the Midst of Evangelical Christianity (From Let There Be Light)
California Public School Kids Now Required to Study Contributions of LGBT Americans
Lighthouse Trails Publishing – Looking Back at 2011 and Looking Ahead at 2012
Book Review: “Have Heart” by Steve Berger - Sadly Normalizes Necromancy (Communicating with the dead)
World Evangelism and the Second Coming
Kenya Orphans and Widows Receive Blankets, Mattresses, Food, and Clothing - A Picture Says a Thousand Words
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TOP LT STORIES
FROM YEARS PAST

2011

An Epidemic of Apostasy – Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited

2010

Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel” (and Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?)

2009

New Age Department of Peace Bill Introduced to Congress One Week After Inauguration

2008

They Say the Emerging Church is Dead - The Truth Behind the Story

2007

No Repentance from Willow Creek – Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift

2006

Calvary Chapel Rejects Purpose Driven and Emerging Spirituality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice

Lectio Divina – There’s a lot of talk about it today; umpteen books are published and more are on the way about lectio divina; and an increasing number of evangelical/Protestant figures are writing about it, endorsing it, and teaching it. Some people think lectio divina simply means to read a passage of Scripture slowly (or “praying the Scriptures”) then ponder or think on that Scripture. That can be a part of it. But if you ask mystics or contemplatives what it entails (And who would know better than they?), they will tell you that lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-o di-veen-a) always includes taking a passage of Scripture (or other writings), reading it slowly, then working your way down until you have just a word or small phrase from the passage that you are meditating on (repeating over and over). Basically, you are coming up with a mantra-like word or phrase that has been extracted from a passage of Scripture, which, according to contemplatives, if repeated for several minutes will help you get rid of thoughts and distractions, so then, they say, you can hear the voice of God and feel His presence.

Contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not. It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.”).1 Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices – contemplative prayer and centering prayer.

While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly, and what’s wrong with that,  it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy. Eastern-style mystic Anthony De Mello describes this problem with thoughts in his book Sadhana: A Way to God:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. (p. 28) 

Spiritual director Jan Johnson in her book, When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer also believes that thoughts get in the way, and the mind must be stilled:

Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you. (p. 16)

Ray Yungen explains this silence that contemplative mystics seek:

When [Richard] Foster speaks of the silence, he does not mean external silence. In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster recommends the practice of breath prayer (p. 122)—picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. This is classic contemplative mysticism. . . . In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, he [Foster]  ties in a quote by one mystic who advised, “You must bind the mind with one thought” . . . I once related Foster’s breath prayer method to a former New Age devotee who is now a Christian. She affirmed this connection when she remarked with astonishment, “That’s what I did when I was into ashtanga yoga!” (A Time of Departing, p. 75)

With lectio divina, the word or phrase one repeats eventually can lose its meaning, and this repetitive sound can start to put the practitioner into an altered mind state. Yungen tells us that: “Keeping the mind riveted on only one thought is unnatural and adverse to true reflection and prayer. Simple logic tells us the repeating of words has no rational value. For instance, if someone called you on the phone and just said your name or one phrase over and over, would that be something you found edifying? Of course not; you would hang up on him or her. Why would God feel otherwise? And if God’s presence is lacking, what is this presence that appears as light during meditation and infuses a counterfeit sense of divinity within? (ATOD, p. 76).”

Yungen exhorts believers that “the goal of prayer should not be to bind the mind with a word or phrase in order to induce a mystical trance but rather to use the mind to glory in the grace of God.  This was the apostle Paul’s counsel to the various churches: ‘Study to shew thyself approved’ (II Tim. 2:15) and ‘we pray always’ (II Thessalonians 1:11) as in talking to God with both heart and mind. (ATOD, p. 75)

In order to help those you care about stay clear of contemplative spirituality and spiritual deception, it is important for you to understand how lectio divina plays a significant role in leading people toward full blown meditative practices. And we propose that this “presence” that is reached during the “silent” altered states of consciousness from saying a word or phrase over and over (or focusing on the breath or an object)  is not God’s presence. God has instructed us in the Bible not to perform “special kinds of process[es] or “formula[s], as Thomas Keating calls lectio divina, (source) to induce mystical experiences (Deuteronomy 18:9-11); thus, we believe ample warning about lectio divina is warranted.

Related Information:

Lectio Divina: Leading Sheep to a New Level of Consciousness by Wolf Tracks

When a Young Girl Meets a Mystic

Benedict XVI: Encourages Contemplative Practice Lectio Divina

Some authors read by Christians who promote lectio divina:

David Crowder in Praise Habit

Kyle Strobel at Metamorpha

Richard Foster (in several places)

Professor J. Budziszewski (author of How to Stay Christian in College) – tells students to practice lectio divina on a Focus on the Family website and also talks about it in his book, Ask Me Anything.

Dan Kimball in The Emerging Church

Tony Jones in Divine Intervention

David Benner in  Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer

Eugene Peterson in Eat This Book

Ken Boa in Healthy Spirituality

Eugene Peterson in Message Bible for Kids

Promoted by Mike Bickle

100 Top Contemplative Proponents Evangelical Christians Turn To Today

Over the years, many of our readers have asked for a list of authors who are promoting contemplative prayer. Well here is a list we have compiled.  This is from 10 years of research at Lighthouse Trails.  The list includes those authors who directly teach contemplative prayer as well as those who have consistently promoted contemplative prayer teachers. All of the names below are in one of these two categories. If you are a skeptic, this is not guilt by association, but is rather guilt by promotion or proxy. It is not possible to list every single contemplative prayer advocate, as the number of those in this category increases weekly with new book releases. Some of these names are not “evangelical” Christians but are to be found in either the Catholic camp or the New Age camp. We include those in this list because they are names that are being recommended or referenced by evangelical/Protestant leaders. We have found these names below to be the most influential in this area. At times, we will replace names with others as they come to our attention. If you need information on any of these names below, you can find most of them using our blog search engine or our research site Topical Index.

1. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

2. Agnes Sanford

3. Alan Jones

4. Anne Lamott

5. Anthony de Mello

6. Basil Pennington

7. Beatrice Bruteau

8. Bernard of Clairvaux

9. Beth Moore

10. Brennan Manning

11. Brian McLaren

12. Brother Lawrence

13. Calvin Miller

14. Carl McColman

15. Chuck Smith, Jr.

16. Dallas Willard

17. Daniel Goleman

18. Dan Kimball

19. David Benner

20. David Crowder

21. David Steindl-Rast

22. Desert Fathers

23. Doug Pagitt

24. Emilie Griffin

25. Eugene Peterson

26. Evelyn Underhill

27. Gary Thomas

28. Gerald May

29. Gerald Sittser

30. Henri Nouwen

31. Hildegard of Bingen

32. Ignatius of Loyola

33. James Goll

34. Jan Johnson

35. Jean-Nicholas Gru

36. John Michael Talbot

37. John of the Cross

38. John Ortberg

39. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

40. J.P. Moreland

41. Julian of Norwich

42. Karl Rahner

43. Keith Drury

44. Ken Blanchard

45. Ken Boa

46. Keri Wyatt Kent

47. Kurt Bjorklund

48. Kyle Strobel

49. Larry Crabb

50. Laurie Beth Jones

51. Leighton Ford

52. Leonard Sweet

53. Liz Babbs

54. Madame Guyon

55. Maggie & Duffy Robbins

56. Marcus Borg

57. Marjorie Thompson

58. Mark Driscoll

59. Mark Virkler

60. Mark Yaconelli

61. Max Lucado

62. Meister Eckhart

63. Michael Card

64. Mike Bickle

65. Mindy Caliguire

66. Morton Kelsey

67. Pete Greig

68. Pete Scazzero

69. Peter Senge

70. Philip St. Romain

71. Phillip Yancey

72. Phyllis Tickle

73. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

74. Pope Benedict XVI

75. Richard Foster

76. Richard Peace

77. Richard Rohr

78. Richard Rolle

79. Rick Warren

80. Rob Bell

81. Robert Webber

82. Ruth Haley Barton

83. St Anthony

84. St. Catherine of Siena

85. St. Ignatius Loyola

86. St. John of the Cross

87. St. Teresa of Avila

88. Sue Monk Kidd

89. The Cloud of Unknowing by an Anonymous Monk

90. Thomas Aquinas

91. Thomas Keating

92. Thomas Merton

93. Tilden Edwards

94. Todd Bentley

95. Tony Campolo

96. Tony Jones

97. Tricia Rhodes

98. William Paul Young

99. William Shannon

100. Willow Creek Association

The New Age – Religion or Science?: “Shhh, don’t tell anybody!”

By Ray Yungen

In the last [few decades], many groups and individuals have come forward with various psycho-technologies for maximizing personal growth and human potential—this potential being in the higher self. New Agers understand that metaphysics must be presented in a way which will attract the greatest number of people—the advantage being that those who might reject any perceived attempts to slip them religion of any kind, would find the idea of growth techniques acceptable. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi did this with his Transcendental Meditation program emphasizing “the Science of Creative Intelligence” rather than mantra yoga, which is what it really is. Others have promoted scientific sounding terms like alpha state awareness or intuition development, which are just imaginative names for meditation.

The advantage New Agers have in enacting significant change in our society is evident in the following quote:

Metaphysics can be taught in highly religious terms, or it can be taught as a pure science, without any religious connotations whatsoever.1

When metaphysics is presented as a science, it is possible for a person to not be aware of its spiritual influence. Many people now coming into direct contact with the Ancient Wisdom do not realize nor understand what it’s all about. They may be told it concerns the latest findings on human development, since many times the people presenting it do not want them to know its true nature. The goal is to merge these practices into society so they will be considered normal and acceptable. To accomplish this, they change terms; meditation becomes centering, and the higher self may be called anything that sounds positive. The key is to rename any terminology that might turn people off. A metaphysics teacher once boasted to me that, “All I have to do is drop the mystical connotations and businessmen eat this stuff up. The experience sells itself.”

The following example illustrates this point well: I was talking once with the owner of a New Age bookstore when I noticed she had the hard-core material (i.e., channeling, spirit guides, etc.) located toward the back of the store, while the more mainstream books (i.e., self-help, holistic health, transpersonal psychology, etc.) were up in front. I made the comment that no difference between the two existed since they were both based on opening yourself up to the power of the higher self. The owner’s face broke into an impish grin and, putting her index finger over her lips in a hush gesture, she replied, “I know, but don’t tell anybody.”
(from For Many Shall Come in My Name by Ray Yungen)

Notes:
1. Bryant Reeve, The Advent of the Cosmic Viewpoint, op. cit., p. 260.

Related:

The New Age, Politics, and the Department of Peace  by Ray Yungen

Man’s Dangerous Hunger for the Occult and the Supernatural  by Carl Teichrib

Mark Driscoll under fire over sexually-explicit guide to marriage

LTRP Note: Two Lighthouse Trails articles we hope you’ll read along with the post below: What’s Sex Got To Do With It?  and Driscoll’s vulgarity draws media attention.

From True Discernment Blog

The extremely sad thing about Mark Driscoll is he apparently does not grasp where the motivation in his heart comes from in writing this. Carnality is very deceitful. People even Pastors  do not grasp how corrosive and invasive our sexually explicit culture is and if allowed how it can warp our sense of reason!

The book dances around the issue of the origins and source of the sexual content that it describes, and why people become attracted to such sexual content in the first place. It is not to express a loving sexual experience with their marriage partner, it is to experience selfish sexual sensuality and the more you cultivate that type of  selfish sexual experience the more you will push into more deviant sexual behaviour!

Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Click here to continue.

 

 

Roman Catholic Washington Governor Gregoire supports gay marriage bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gov. Chris Gregoire is publicly supported legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state, saying Wednesday that she came to the decision after several years of battling her own uncertainty on the issue.

“I have been on my own journey, I’ll admit that,” she said at a news conference announcing her support of a legalization bill that will be introduced next week.

“It has been a battle for me with my religion,” said Gregoire, who is Catholic.

The Democrat previously had supported efforts to expand the state’s current law on domestic partner rights for gay couples, but had not come out in favor of full marriage rights.

“I’ve always been uncomfortable with the position I took publicly,” she said. “Then I came to realize, the religions can decide what they want to do, but it’s not OK for the state to discriminate.” Click here to read more.

Countering the Counter Reformation in the Midst of Evangelical Christianity (From Let There Be Light)

By Roger Oakland

While I am sometimes accused of being a “Catholic-basher,” this is not my desire, nor my intention. I have a number of Roman Catholic acquaintances, and I care for them very much. I also have a number of Evangelical and Protestant acquaintances, and I care about them equally as well. However, in both cases, if a true understanding of the Gospel according to the Scriptures is not present in their lives, then their views will not be biblical—it won’t matter what they call themselves. For the record, my desire is to follow Jesus Christ and His Word and no man, no matter who he is. Likewise, I desire my acquaintances to do the same. It is love, not hate, that motivates me to share the Gospel with them, for there is only one Gospel that truly saves.

Here is the view I promote. Saving faith hinges entirely on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not on an affiliation with a church body. To be born again is to die to the old life of living for self and sin and to be reborn of the Spirit of God when one acknowledges his inability to save himself but rather trusts in Christ alone and His death on the Cross to purchase our salvation.

Many Catholics do not realize that official Catholic teaching does not recognize the biblical Gospel of salvation by grace alone but adds to it the appendage of our merit and participation in the sacraments. By the same token, many Protestants do not realize the biblical faith that martyrs (the disciples, the reformers, etc.) lived and died for. Our hope of an eternal home in Heaven rests in Christ and Christ alone and is offered to all, who in child-like faith, receive Him.

I am not certain when I first realized that the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, were the root force behind the coming one-world religion. If I were pressed to come up with an original time, it would be difficult. Coming to this realization was more of a process for me. The Bible foretells the coming of the Harlot. G.S. McLean always instilled in me that the harlot was apostate Christianity. This I still believe is the proper definition.

Through writing New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, I could see that the final one-world religion will be a mix of all religions for the cause of peace. This will include a revival of ancient Babylonianism that will be rooted in the worship of creation, based on Darwinian evolution that is rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism.

[T]he Roman Catholic “Mary” and the Roman Catholic “Jesus” will play [a major role] in the final delusion to prepare the world for the Antichrist. …

It was about 2000, the year before Bryce died, that I came across Pope John Paul’s agenda to promote the “New Evangelization.” This is an organized agenda to point the “faithful” and the “separated brethren” to realize that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. This program, coupled with so-called apparitions from a woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus, seems to be the impetus behind the coming one-world religion for peace that would be headquartered in Rome.

As you will recall, I had already come to the conclusion that there is a Jesuit plan to bring the separated brethren back to the “Mother of all Churches” in other ways, particularly their “dove” (signs and wonders) plan.

Following my miraculous come-back to ministry after Bryce died, I not only finished New Wine and the Babylonian Vine but started writing the outline and then the book Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization to continue the warning during 2004. While I was writing this book, Mel Gibson suddenly became a Calvary Chapel-proclaimed saint with his Passion of the Christ. Chuck Smith viewed a portion of the film before it was released and endorsed the film. The Calvary Chapel movement jumped on the bandwagon. As would be expected, they followed “Pastor Chuck’s” leading. There were few voices against the movie. Understand The Times was one of those voices who dared speak up.

While I don’t intend to name the pastors who called me to task over my position on The Passion, let me say there were many who wanted me to keep silent. Support for the ministry of UTT dwindled. There are pastors who even part ways to this day over my stand. Mel Gibson’s Hollywood film with the Eucharistic Jesus and the evangelism that it contained became a sacred cow for Calvary Chapel. If someone spoke against it, he came under zealous attack, as if speaking against Mel Gibson’s movie was speaking against Jesus Christ Himself.

Nevertheless, the book was completed. Jim Tetlow helped me by writing an appendix, which explains that a wafer is a wafer and not literally Jesus’ flesh under the “appearance of bread” and that the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation is not scriptural.

The book also warns about the coming lying signs and wonders that will occur associated with false appearances of the Eucharistic Jesus that are already underway. Coupled together with further lying signs and wonders, there will be appearances of an apparitional woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus. We predicted that lying signs and wonders would impress Muslims because they have a special love for Mary—there is an entire chapter on Mary in the Koran. Most people don’t realize that.

In June of 2005, Paul Smith recommended that Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization be given out to the Calvary pastors at the annual senior pastors conference at Murrieta. As UTT did with New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, the books were donated through Calvary Distribution and handed out. In the back of the book is a commentary called “Passion Evangelism” that exposes Mel Gibson’s plan to win the world to the Eucharistic Christ.

By many accounts, the conference was deemed to be a watershed. A panel discussion one afternoon about Calvary basics ended up in a free-for-all. Greg Laurie led the way with Bob Coy in stand-up comedy. Things got serious when Greg Laurie chastised pastors for not participating in Harvest Crusades just because of his desire to be linked with Purpose Driven globalist pastor, Rick Warren. The only pastor who seemed to be in favor of studying the Bible instead of someone’s book was Mike Macintosh.

Many pastors left the meeting with a heavy heart. Mine was so heavy I decided to pack up my book table one afternoon and stay at my hotel. Later that evening while at the hotel, my cell phone started to ring. The messages were all the same sentiment: “You cannot believe what just happened!” one pastor from South Carolina cried out.

“This is heresy!” said another in an excited voice.

“What has happened to Calvary? Have we been seduced by the Jesuits?” asked another who called me. All this commotion was because [a] Calvary Chapel pastor, who was to perform the communion service at the end of the meeting, turned it into a Eucharistic-style service. …

After the conference, I wrote a letter from my heart to Chuck Smith. I expressed my deep love for him and for Calvary Chapel but also told him of my strong concerns. Here is some of what I said in that letter:

It is with a heavy heart that I must communicate to you that over the past several years, because of many firsthand encounters and experiences in various places with numerous Calvary Chapel pastors, that I have observed a change in the Calvary Chapel movement that deeply concerns me. Perhaps some of my concerns have filtered back to you through others. Until writing this letter, I have not formally contacted you with these concerns. I regret now that I have waited so long. After leaving the Pastors Conference in Murrieta this past week, I laid awake several nights contemplating what I should do or say. This letter is the result.

I explained to Chuck that while I knew there were Calvary Chapel churches that were staying true to God’s Word, there were many that were being influenced by another gospel. I gave him six points where serious error could be found. I want to list them here because every Christian denomination is being affected in these areas to one degree or another:

Ecumenical and unbiblical teachings are being endorsed for the cause of unity and church growth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being disguised to make it less offensive and more acceptable.

Churches that once taught the Bible faithfully verse by verse preparing the flock for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, now are looking for ways to make their services more seeker-friendly and are less concerned about the prophetic signs we are living in the last days.
Pastors and churches that once believed church growth was dependent on feeding the sheep and equipping the saved to share the Gospel, now promote humanistic means to draw in the masses based on a consumer style of evangelism focused on “finding out what people want” to “get them in the door.”

Churches once led by pastors committed to biblical truth, now are employing experts who use worldly principles borrowed from secular corporations with material goals for success. Rather than following Jesus and His Word, pastors and church leaders are looking to successful men and their methods so they can become part of a movement that is based on principles foreign to the Scriptures.
When church leaders promoting strategies to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth by humanistic methods are challenged by concerned believers warning about the dangers, the leaders label these believers as divisive. Contending for the faith is no longer considered biblical. A person taking a position for biblical truth is now accused of being critical of what others believe.

Bible-believing pastors who once taught the Bible are now looking for ways to attract people to their congregations by providing extra-biblical experiences [e.g. contemplative] and an atmosphere that includes candles, icons, incense, and the introduction of Roman Catholic sacraments. When concerned observers suggest this appears to be leading to a partnership with Roman Catholicism, they are considered to be negative opponents of the “new thing” God is doing to reach our generation.

I told Chuck that it was apparent to some that we are at another crossroads in church history, a fork in the road. I asked him if pastors were going to stand up and make their voices known if they have concerns about the direction current trends are leading. I reminded him, “While some say, don’t be negative—just be known for what you believe, not what you are against—the Old Testament prophets were outspoken when followers of God strayed away from the truths of God and never allowed the sheep to feel comfortable in their sin.”  (This is an excerpt from Let There Be Light by Roger Oakland.)

California Public School Kids Now Required to Study Contributions of LGBT Americans

(CNSNews.com) – On Jan. 1, the California Department of Education started implementing a new law that requires all children in the state’s public schools to study the “role and contributions” of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” to the “development of California and the United States of America.”

This law, according to the pro-family group SaveCalifornia.com, will require the schools to promote “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans as role models” and mandate that “children as young as kindergarten must be taught to admire persons who engage in homosexuality.”

The bill, SB 48, amends Education Code Section 51204.5, which already included the study of men and women of various ethnic groups. A summary of the law states, “The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act amends the education code to require schools to integrate factual information about social movements, current events and history of people with disabilities and LGBT people into existing social studies lessons. It also prevents the State Board of Education from adopting instructional materials that discriminate.” Click here to continue reading.

 

Lighthouse Trails Publishing – Looking Back at 2011 and Looking Ahead at 2012

As Lighthouse Trails Publishing (the publishing arm of Lighthouse Trails Research Project) soon nears the end of our 10th year (10 years this coming March), we’d like to take a moment to ponder 2011, which was a busy year for us. It’s not easy being a small publisher in today’s western society where book reading is being slowly squeezed out of many people’s lives by the Internet, television, radio, and a host of other technological inventions. Not only that, small publishing houses must compete with the large houses that seem to have marketing budgets that keep them selling thousands, if not millions, of books. And many of the more established Christian publishers have been bought out by huge secular corporations giving their marketing budgets even more clout. An article in Christianity Today this past fall titled “HarperCollins Buys Thomas Nelson, Will Control 50% of Christian Publishing Market” is a case in point. HarperCollins bought Zondervan in 1988. Thomas Nelson and Zondervan are Christian publishing’s two largest publishing house.

But in spite of the huge challenge it is for small publishers to stay in business, Lighthouse Trails is still here after nearly a decade. We believe that God has continued to provide for us; and we thank Him for giving us the wisdom to keep our overhead small, live and work as simply and frugally as we can, and never lower our standards from what we believe they should be just so we can sell more books. We’ll never be a Thomas Nelson or Zondervan (we think that might be a good thing considering their move toward contemplative and emerging), but we hope and pray we can be around another ten years and represent even more authors than we already have who have biblical and personal integrity. Click here to continue reading.

 

 
Book Review: “Have Heart” by Steve Berger - Sadly Normalizes Necromancy (Communicating with the dead)

LTRP Note: The following book review on Steve Berger’s new book, Have Heart, was difficult for Larry DeBruyn to write because Have Heart talks about the death of Berger’s son. But because the book is endorsed by top-name trusted evangelical leaders and because the book normalizes having communication with the dead, we believe DeBruyn’s succinct, and yet sensitive, book review is needed. In a day when New Age ideas, panentheism, universalism, and  mysticism have  become accepted ideologies by countless Christians, the message in Have Heart - that we can have communication with our passed away loved ones – will not give biblical understanding to grieving parents and other readers but rather will further fuel the fires of deception so prevalent in today’s church.

This book review was done in five parts. Below is the beginning of the first part.

Update: One of the endorsements that sits inside the front cover of this book is Chuck Missler. Last week, Chuck Missler posted a statement on his website and on Facebook stating that he did not know about the content of the book when he endorsed it. Now that he does know about the content, we hope he will ask the publisher to remove his endorsement from the book. We hope Greg Laurie, another endorser of the book, will also consider removing his endorsement. We think once you read Larry DeBruyn's book review of Have Heart, you will understand why we say this. As believers in Jesus Christ and His Word, we must not entertain the things of darkness but must walk in the light.

 “Do the Dead Communicate with the Living?”

“Normalizing Necromancy”
Part 1 by Larry DeBruyn

“The authors believe that breaking away from traditional “in box thinking” about the afterlife gives God an opportunity “to maximize our view of Heaven.” (HH, xxii) But in breaking out of the box, Christian readers must beware lest they will also break away from the Bible.”

“[T]here are matters in Have Heart that do not line up with Scripture. In brief, I do not see that the Word of God supports the notion that postmortem, persons in heaven come back—whether in the body or out of the body, no one really knows—to visit loved ones and friends on earth.”

 
The story of Have Heart was born out of immense personal and family tragedy. In August of 2009, weeks before he was to matriculate at the University of Tennessee, Pastor Steve and Sarah Berger’s nineteen-year old son Josiah was fatally injured in a one car accident. Have Heart relates how the parents, family and friends are coping with his death, an ongoing story intended to comfort others who have or are facing similar life tragedies. As the book’s subtitle indicates, one aspect of “bridging the gulf between heaven and earth” involves reports that after he died, Josiah communicated with family and friends from Heaven.

This book is one of the latest among popular books being published for evangelical audiences on the subject of the afterlife involving visitations to and from Heaven and the connection between the living and the dead. Of this genre, this book is one of the most emotionally charged books, and exemplifies how gut-wrenching stories can shut down rational thinking. As the high-intensity story captivates the reader into a feelings-driven state, the book’s contents subtly facilitate a change in worldview as it suggests novel interpretations of Scripture.

Previously, I reviewed a book in this same genre, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young, which evoked similarly strong emotions with its storyline, subtly disarming readers, thereby enabling the author to introduce new concepts about the nature of God, the Trinity, salvation, spirituality and the cosmic reality in which we live, move and have our being. Click here to continue reading and to also read parts 2-5.

World Evangelism and the Second Coming

By Tony Pearce
(from The Messiah Factor)

The New Testament belief is that the Messiah came the first time to bear the sins of the world and offer Himself as the atoning sacrifice for all mankind.  Through Him both Jews and Gentiles may partake of the promises given by God to Israel and be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:11-18) and join the believing church.  In the original Greek of the New Testament the word for church, ‘ekklesia’, means ‘the called out ones’, in other words people who have been called out of the world to believe in Jesus as Messiah.  It never means a building or a religious organisation.  It always means a group of people.  The purpose of the true church in this age is to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth as Jesus told them to before He departed into heaven:

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the So and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always even to the end of the world.”  Matthew 28.18-20.

This does not mean that all will receive it.  The conditions of tribulation at the end of this age make it clear that the majority will reject it.  Jesus taught that this message will bring division between those who accept it and those who reject it:

“And this is the judgement that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does what is true comes to the light that it may clearly be seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”  John 3:19-21.

Those who do accept the Lord through coming to the point of genuine repentance and faith in Him experience the ‘new birth’ which Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus:

Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3.

As a result of this new birth the believer receives the Holy Spirit who begins the process of sanctification which aims at reproducing in us the character of the Lord:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Galatians 5:22.

Since the whole process is voluntary the extent to which we show the character of the Holy Spirit depends on the extent to which we submit our lives to Him.  It also needs to be pointed out that there are multitudes who profess to be Christians who have never experienced this ‘new birth’ and are therefore not Christians at all in the true sense and do not represent the true church.

This age will come to an end at the second coming of Jesus when He will judge mankind on the basis of how we have responded to His offer of salvation.  As we have said this offer has first to be given to all nations which is now being done by the evangelistic work of the believing church.  The rejection of this offer by the majority will lead to days of tribulation which will bring this age to a close as Jesus told the disciples when they asked Him, “What will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age?”  His answer told of wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, persecutions and deception and said that the age would end with ‘great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.’ Matthew 24:21This again is in perfect harmony with the words of the Prophets who also taught that there will be tribulation in the end of times:

“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was seen there was a nation, even to that time.  And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.”  Daniel 12:1.  See also Isaiah 24, Jeremiah 30, Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 12-14.

(from The Messiah Factor by Tony Pearce, chapter 9)

Kenya Orphans and Widows Receive Blankets, Mattresses, Food, and Clothing - A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Below are 7 of the widow and orphan families helped with the special December offering given by Lighthouse Trails readers. You can see how blessed they are by the smiles on their faces. There were two at least two other families also helped also, but we don't have their photos yet. Some of these homes are going to be part of the Understand the Times Bryce Orphan Home project.

 

 

 

 

To donate to the widows and orphans in Suna and Rongo Kenya through Understand the Times ongoing Bryce Orphan Homes (there will be up to 10 supported in 2012), click here. To learn more about Pastor Achilla's work with his ministry team in Rongo and Suna, Kenya or to donate to this mission work, please click here.

This is a Lighthouse Trails sponsored project.



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