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Our “Cosmic Cousins”

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

Carl Sagan was a strong believer and promoter of Darwinian evolution. He was also an advocate of taxpayers funding the technology required to scan the heavens for intelligent beings. Although Sagan believed that one day this technology would discover signals that would show we are not alone in the universe, science has not yet announced they have made contact with our cosmic cousins.

Sagan once stated, “Civilizations that are hundreds of millions of light years beyond us should have sciences and technologies so far beyond our present capabilities, they would be indistinguishable from magic.” [1]

Or as a colleague in extraterrestrial research, Robert Jastrow, once said, “Life that is a billion years beyond us may be far beyond the flesh-and-blood form that we would recognize. It may be in the form of a silicon-based intelligence, or more likely, it is disembodied and has escaped its mortal flesh to become what old-fashioned people would call spirits.” [2]

So, here is the question: If these extraterrestrial superbeings have evolved beyond the physical dimension as Sagan and Jastrow claimed, how would they try to communicate to mere Earthlings who are so much lower on the evolutionary ladder? Click here to continue reading.

Related Material:

The Evolution Conspiracy by Roger Oakland and Caryl Matrisciana

(photo from bigstockphoto; used with permission)


Bad News for Gaither Followers – Gloria Gaither Praises New Age Teachers Sue Monk Kidd and Richard Rohr

Last week, we received the following information from a reader:

Gloria Gaither

Gloria Gaither

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Gloria Gaither is the author of many influential songs including “There’s Something About That Name.” She writes glowing reviews of the two books listed below. One by Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic priest and the other by Sue Monk Kidd who believes herself to be a goddess. These book reviews are from Bill & Gloria Gaither’s Homecoming Magazine website.

Quote by Gloria Gaither About Sue Monk Kidd: “Most of the time I choose a nonfiction book that brings a new insight or fresh approach to an eternal truth or encourages spiritual growth in an area that seems to need emphasis for the times in which we are living. But this time I am recommending the New York Times bestselling book of fiction, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees. . . . Sue Monk Kidd is an amazing writer who tells a story with such skill that she somehow manages to both prick our consciences and give us great hope. (source)

Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd

Quotes by Sue Monk Kidd:

“I often went to Catholic mass or Eucharist at the Episcopal church, nourished by the symbol and power of this profound feeding ritual” (Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 15).

“I would go through the gate with what Zen Buddhists call ‘beginner’s mind,’ the attitude of approaching something with a mind empty and free, ready for anything, open to everything. . . . I would give myself permission to go wherever my quest took me” (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 140).

“I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. . . . It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period. . . . That day sitting in church, I believed the voice in my belly. . . . The voice in my belly was the voice of the wise old woman. It was my female soul talking. And it had challenged the assumption that the Baptist Church would get me where I needed to go” (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, pp. 76, 77, 78, emphasis added).

Quote by Gloria Gaither About Richard Rohr: In an interview between Gloria Gaither and Catholic mystic monk, Richard Rohr, Gaither said: “First of all, I want to say thank you to you [Richard Rohr] because so many of your books have been impacting my life, especially Falling Upward. I think that changed my thinking about . . . just about everything. We have studied that book in our Monday night Bible study.” (source)

Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr

Quotes by Richard Rohr:

“every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”― Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

“The most amazing fact about Jesus, unlike almost any other religious founder, is that he found God in disorder and imperfection—and told us that we must do the same or we would never be content on this earth. ”― Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

LTRP Comments: In 2009, we were first alerted to the direction that the Gaithers appeared to be going, and we posted an article titled, “Gaither Family Fest To Include The Shack Author.” In that article, we stated:

Bill and Gloria Gaither will be hosting the 19th annual Family Fest in May and will be featuring The Shack author William Paul Young. The Gaithers have been a popular Christian music team for many years. . . . In 2005, the Gaithers held their Gaithers Praise Gathering in which they invited Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and other emerging church leaders to be speakers. In 2008, at the Gaither’s Fall Festival, Brian McLaren’s book, The Secret Message of Jesus (see Faith Undone for information on that book) was featured in the Readers Breakfast Club. Gloria Gaither is also on the Advisory Board for the Spirit and Place Festival, an organization sympathetic to the “new (age) spirituality.” McLaren is a featured personality in that organization. The Gaither’s promotion of The Shack, Brian McLaren, and Leonard Sweet are strong indicators that the Gaithers are attracted to emerging spirituality, and this will no doubt influence many of their followers.

As for this promotion of Richard Rohr and Sue Monk Kidd, this is a perfect example of the downward slide of deception. Sadly, the Gaithers have millions of followers through their music, and now these followers are being pointed to two New Age panentheists rather than to the Cross. When the Gaithers wrote and sang “There’s Something About That Name [Jesus],” who would have thought they would be able to sing such high praises for people who are following a different Jesus and a different Gospel?

Additional Information on Sue Monk Kidd:

Of Sue Monk Kidd, Ray Yungen states:

[Sue] Monk Kidd’s spirituality is spelled out clearly in her book, When the Heart Waits. She explains: “There’s a bulb of truth buried in the human soul [everyone] that’s only God . . . the soul is more than something to win or save. It’s the seat and repository of the inner Divine, the God-image, the truest part of us. . . .

How did a Baptist Sunday school teacher come to believe that divinity is within all? [A]Sunday school co-worker handed her [Monk Kidd] a book by Thomas Merton telling her she needed to read it. Once Monk Kidd read it, her life changed dramatically. What happened next completely reoriented Sue Monk Kidd’s worldview and belief system. She started down the contemplative prayer road with bliss, reading numerous books and repeating the sacred word methods taught in her readings.

She ultimately came to the mystical realization that: “I am speaking of recognizing the hidden truth that we are one with all people. We are part of them and they are part of us . . .  When we encounter another person . . .  we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there.”-A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p. 134-135

Dance of the Dissident Daughter, published six years after When the Heart Waits, shows Monk Kidd’s transition into goddess and panentheist spirituality, going so far as to say that God can be found even in human excrement. In speaking about mysticism, she states:

As I grounded myself in feminine spiritual experience, that fall I was initiated into my body in a deeper way. I came to know myself as an embodiment of Goddess…. Mystical awakening in all the great religious traditions, including Christianity, involves arriving at an experience of unity or nondualism. In Zen it’s known as samadhi…. Transcendence and immanence are not separate. The Divine is one. The dancer and all the dances are one. . . . The day of my awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God, and God in all things (pp. 161-163, Dance of the Dissident Daughter).

Additional Information on Richard Rohr:

Rohr’s spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Episcopalian panentheist Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ). Rohr wrote the foreword to a 2007 book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) Paul Coutinho. In Coutinho’s book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) worship the same God. For Rohr to write the forward to such a book, he would have to agree with Coutinho’s views. On Rohr’s website, he currently has an article titled “Cosmic Christ.” One need not look too far into Rohr’s teachings and website to see he is indeed promoting the same Cosmic Christ as Matthew Fox – this is the “christ” whose being they say lives in every human-this of course would nullify the need for atonement by a savior.

Letter to the Editor from a Canadian Reader: A Way to Print and Distribute Transgender Booklet in Canada

I read your article this morning; the possible block for mailing out this booklet to Canada should not be a surprise, but if anyone here in Canada who has a printer and would like to share this article with others would take the time to highlight the booklet as you have posted it in its full length and transfer it to Microsoft Word, you can make your own booklet. Yes it does take time . . . I’ve done it with other articles. As long as it is taken in its completeness, including references if there are any, I don’t think you would object.

Besides e-mailing it to others in Canada is another way to distribute this information.

God bless you all richly.


Our Comments: The booklet is on our blog, and as with all our articles, at the bottom of the article is a Green Print button. This actually turns the article into a nicely formatted PDF that can be saved to a computer and/or printed. Also, here is a fully formatted PDF of the booklet especially for our Canadian readers. It is a large file and may take a few moments to download. Anyone in Canada has our permission to distribute this booklet in any way he or she would like. We published this booklet because we believe children in North America are in great danger, and we stand behind the contents of this booklet. It is not intended in any way to incite hate toward transgenders. On the contrary, we care about transgenders, knowing that God loves them and wishes for them to come to repentance (turn away from your sins) and turn to Jesus Christ. However, we cannot remain silent when helpless children are being victimized.

From our understanding of the Canadian laws, it is not a criminal act at this time to possess material with a “religious” view on transgenderism or to debate the issue publicly (in other words, while the material is still classified as “hate propaganda” by the Canadian government, it is not yet considered a criminal act punishable by fines or prison if it is in a religious context). However, with the new law in place since last year and it still in the process of being defined and interpreted, we believe the stage is set in Canada to eliminate free speech altogether on this and other (e.g., homosexuality, Islam, etc.) issues. The fact that the Canadian government is blocking the importation of materials that do debate these issues is a prelude to such a scenario.

Our “Cosmic Cousins”
Bad News for Gaither Followers – Gloria Gaither Praises New Age Teachers Sue Monk Kidd and Richard Rohr
Letter to the Editor from a Canadian Reader: A Way to Print and Distribute Transgender Booklet in Canada
AFA (American Family Association) Posts Pro-Meditation Article – They Still Don’t Get It

How Much Does the Gospel Weigh?

Would Jesus Magnify His Presence Above His Word?
BOOKLET HIGHLIGHT: "I Just Had a Vision!"
Coming Soon - Three New Lighthouse Trails Books
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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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AFA (American Family Association) Posts Pro-Meditation Article – They Still Don’t Get It

Last week, a reader sent us an e-mail concerned about an article that AFA (American Family Association) just posted on the AFA Journal website. The article, titled “Study says meditation remains popular across diverse religions,” is actually an extract of a 2018 Pew Research Center article. (Pew is a liberal think tank.)

The article posted on AFA is clearly not posted to warn readers about meditation but rather is to show its supposed benefits and even goes so far as to say Christian “meditation” is much different than eastern meditation (something which Lighthouse Trails has proven over and over for many years that the opposite is true). Here is a short excerpt from the Pew article posted on AFA:

In Christian tradition, the discipline of meditation – otherwise known as silent contemplation – dates back to early Christian mystics [the desert fathers] who sought God in the quiet and solitude of the wilderness during the first centuries after the death of Jesus. Even before that, there are many examples in the Old Testament of godly people secluding themselves for a time of dedication to God.

However, it is helpful to note that Christian meditation and other forms of meditation are quite different. Today, Christians of various traditions hold to meditation as a means to draw closer to God and fill their minds with Him. In contrast to this, Eastern-style meditation generally involves clearing the mind.

While we would expect this mindset from Pew Research because they have never hidden their favorable views on meditation or the “new” spirituality, we are surprised that AFA is willing to be so bold about posting this pro-meditation article. A bit surprised – more disappointed than anything. It was in 2006 that Lighthouse Trails wrote a series of articles regarding AFA’s then bookstore that was filled with numerous books by contemplative mystics and New Age sympathizers. Many Lighthouse Trails readers contacted AFA after reading our articles and seeing the documentation. At one point, AFA received so many calls from our readers, they actually issued an apology after posting a pro-meditation book review. That retraction stated:

On August 28, 2006, AgapePress, a news division of American Family Association, carried a positive review of the book Sacred Listening. The author of the book is James L. Wakefield. The person who reviewed the book is a contributing writer and not a staff person of AFA or AgapePress. AFA and AgapePress have received a number of e-mails from AgapePress readers and AFA supporters who believe this book promotes New Age practices and teachings. AgapePress and AFA regret running this review — and, while AFA works with many religious groups on matters of public policy, it maintains a traditional evangelical position with respect to theology and Christian doctrine. Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association | Jody Brown, Editor, AgapePress (source)

However, even after that retraction, AFA’s bookstore continued carrying a wide variety of pro-contemplative meditation books. Lighthouse Trails sent a copy of A Time of Departing to AFA and spoke on the phone on one occasion to Tim Wildmon who admitted he was in a quandary because AFA had many Catholic supporters who were in favor of such books. In 2007, AFA shut their bookstore down all together. Apparently, it was easier to shut it down than address and deal with the contemplative issue.

Fast forward eleven years to this present posting of the pro-meditation article by AFA. What saddens us is that in all these years, Christianity’s most influential organizations and leaders have still not addressed the contemplative issue (which means they consider it a non-issue to contend with). And in these last eleven years, contemplative prayer (i.e., Spiritual Formation) has latched on to today’s Christian church resulting in a significant derailment of biblical teaching and practice within Christianity at large. Just look at Christian seminaries, colleges, and universities where we estimate over 90% have introduced contemplative spirituality into their student’s lives.

So, we have come full circle. AFA took down a bookstore eleven years ago that was riddled with heretical books, which outwardly removed the problem, but like a sinister thief hiding in a closet waiting for his moment to make his move, AFA never truly removed or dealt with the problem. What’s the point of trying to “save the culture,” which is the focus of AFA, if they don’t try to save the Gospel (which is under direct attack by the contemplative meditation movement)?


With regard to the 2018 Pew Research article that AFA quoted from, let’s take a moment and look at the rest of that article. In reality, AFA should have been posting the article as a warning to Christians. In the Pew article, it states how a growing number of Americans are meditating. They took statistics from a 2014 study, which shows that 49% of those who call themselves Evangelical Protestant meditate at least once a week. Forty percent of Catholics, 55 percent of black Protestants, and 36 percent of mainline Protestants (Episcopal, United Methodist, etc) meditate at least once a week.
Frequency of meditation among U.S. religious groups

Those figures were not shown in the AFA extract. Anyone reading these figures who understands the dangers of meditation should be alarmed at these high percentages among proclaiming Christians. If this doesn’t show that a paradigm shift has occurred, we don’t know what does. Lest some think that those responding to the Pew survey were thinking Pew was meaning regular prayer, the Pew article says they distinguished between the two in their questionnaire.

So, it appears that Lighthouse Trails is in a losing battle. Mystical meditation WILL prevail. It IS prevailing, and the result will be an apostate church that is wholly given over to delusion. That is because meditation (focusing on the breath or a word or phrase in order to go into a silent state – i.e., putting the mind into neutral) puts the practitioner into contact with a demonic realm (e.g. altered state of consciousness), and over time, this alters one’s spiritual outlook changing the mindset from a biblical view to a New Age panentheistic view.

What appears to be happening now is that we have reached a moment of decision as when Moses addressed his people and challenged them on which side they would stand. Or in the words of Joshua, “choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

If you are reading this article and have wondered about so-called Christian meditation and whether it is right or wrong, and whether it is the same as eastern meditation, we would be happy to send you a complimentary booklet that explains what meditation is and why it is not biblical nor spiritually safe. You may e-mail us at or write to us at P.O. Box 908, Eureka, MT 59917. Or if you prefer, click here to read this article by Ray Yungen who devoted his life to helping others see the dangers of contemplative meditation. The article shows that Christian “mediation” is from the same source as eastern-style meditation.


(photo from; used with permission)



How Much Does the Gospel Weigh?

By David Dombrowski

The Gospel is a standard and the central theme of the entire Bible. We can think of it like a balancing scale, weighing truth against error. But how much does the Gospel weigh? That might sound like a foolish question, but let’s take a moment to see how a balancing scale works. Basically, it is an arm extending from both sides with a fulcrum in the middle. A standardized weight is then placed on one side, and subsequently everything placed on the other arm of the scale with be measured and valued by that standardized weight. A false scale, as Proverbs states, uses a deceptive weight purported to be a standardized weight when it really is not. Consequently, everything weighed on that scale for the next five, ten, or a thousand years will have an erroneous result. A false scale just keeps on lying because the standard is wrong.

If  we are going to use the Gospel as a standardized weight, knowing how much the Gospel weighs might be worth pondering. The prophet Zechariah gives us a clue:

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

Again, what was forecast in the Old Testament, is fulfilled in the New, and in Matthew 26:15 we see that when Judas asked the chief priests what price they would give for delivering Jesus to them,  it says, “they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” This was the value the priests of that day placed on Jesus. But what follows is most significant. When Judas returns later to the chief priests and elders, he says:

I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.  (Matthew 27:4-7)

It was the chief priests of that day, not Judas, who placed the value of Jesus and measured out thirty pieces of silver.

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value. (Matthew 27:9)

the crossBut when Judas threw the money down on the temple floor, he realized that the money was worthless in comparison with the man he had betrayed. But even more so, it was a prophetic statement of God from centuries past that the value placed on Jesus would be as erroneous as it could possibly be.

The price of Jesus and what He did for us, weighed out, is immeasurable. When weighed against anything else, the Gospel always tips the scale. It is the standardized weight that no matter what you compare it with, the item you are weighing will come up lacking.

Over the centuries, man has come up with all sorts of ideas and philosophies that have only served to prove how priceless the Gospel really is. Jesus truly is the Son of God, and He truly paid our debt on the Cross. But today, more than ever, the Gospel is under attack, and we need to faithfully hold on to it and defend it as the standard that is true.

We are all too familiar with all the vain teachings that have been used to discredit the Gospel message over the last two thousand years. Paul warns to steer away from such teachings:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

To Timothy, whom he regarded as a son in the faith, Paul has a strong exhortation at the end of his first epistle:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. (1 Timothy 6:20)

Having strongly opposed the Gospel in the past, Paul knew what it is to be greatly deceived by one’s own reasonings and the thoughts of the culture. He was recognized as one of the greatest intellectuals of his time, yet one day on a road to Damascus, he discovered that all of his profound learning did not measure up to God’s standard. Paul later used his intellectual abilities to become one of the strongest defenders of the faith in human history.

Today, there is a whole barrage of religious leaders who use their intellectual prowess to persuade Christians to abandon the fundamentals of the Christian faith for something more intellectually palatable to the postmodern “progressive” mind. These leaders are holding up a new standard suggesting the standard of the Gospel is outdated and a new standardized weight needs to be placed on the balance. Many of these emerging progressive leaders make it sound like they have made a new discovery that no one has thought of before they came along. Using their philosophical reasonings, you will hear them question how a God of love could send His son to die a cruel death on a cross for the sins of others. They will further maintain that a God of love would never send anyone to Hell – a place that in their own minds does not exist. Human reason then, and not the teachings of the Bible, becomes the test of truth. The long-held truths of the Bible must now bend to intellectual fabrications of what God must be like. Yes, a new standard has replaced the standard of the Gospel by which truth and all of Christian doctrine can be weighed. But this is nothing new, as philosophers of the past have believed that the human intellect is a wellspring of innate knowledge and ultimately the only source and deciding factor of truth.

Some arrive at many of the same conclusions from a slightly different vantage point. They hold that the realm of science (a “new” quantum science they say) offers the wealth of knowledge we are looking for. Some have suggested that if we look at the physical world at the sub-atomic level, we will actually find God. At first, it seems like a wonderful idea to think that we can prove to an unbelieving world the existence of God. A good idea, that is, until we realize we are again talking about another Gospel – for to “discover” that God exists in all of creation at the sub-atomic level suggests a panentheistic view of God. Yet Romans 1 distinguishes the creature from Creator (verse 25). In fact, the panentheistic view contradicts and discredits the whole Genesis account. Paul clarifies that there are two realities – physical and spiritual – and they are not the same (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible actually makes it very clear that God is separate from His creation. My question is, if God is spiritual rather than physical, when the scientists discover God at the sub-atomic level, what god will that actually  be?

Needless to say, what is being passed off as cutting-edge spirituality is what Paul warned about when he talked about “vain philosophies” and “science falsely so called. The fact is, God has given mankind the ability to reason and to make empirical observations, but no amount of human reasoning and scientific experimentation, in and of themselves, will enable man to arrive at God outside of that which is revealed in the Bible.

For the Christian, the Gospel has been and always will be that standardized weight and the pivot from which we measure truth from error. Today, more than ever, the church is plagued by such a vast assortment of spiritualities and false teachings, some of which are so subtle, that even the most discerning are vulnerable to dangerous deception.

The sad truth is that most church-going, self-proclaiming Christians today do not understand the times in which we live and would prefer that “negative” “trouble-making” organizations such as Lighthouse Trails would cease to exist. But as long as the Lord allows it, and in spite of many adversaries, those of us who defend the faith and contend for His Word are often reminded of our Lord’s words of admonition to work “while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

However, something needs to be said here: Although Lighthouse Trails exists as a source of information, this is not our highest calling. We believe God has called us to work “[f]or the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). For the “perfecting of the saints” to happen, Christians need to learn to think on their own. Too many ministries exist that create a following of dependents rather than discipling men and women of God who are strong in the faith. The Lord is our strength and in Him and His Word we have everything we need to live an overcoming life (2 Peter 1:3). Paul put it succinctly when he said this concerning our Lord:

In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Colossians 2:3-4)

Let us cling to the priceless treasure we have in Christ. None of us will ever have a perfect hold of all Christian doctrine – as Paul says we see as looking through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), but if we hold fast to our Savior and Lord, hide His Word in our hearts, and let His Spirit teach us (1 Corinthians 2:13), we will have all we need to get us through.

How much does the Gospel weigh? More than the weight of all the sins of mankind put together. Christ’s death on the Cross bore that load, and nothing can takes its place.

(photo from; used with permission)

Would Jesus Magnify His Presence Above His Word?

By Warren B. Smith
In Jesus Calling, “Jesus” promotes the experience of his presence above God’s Word.

Psalm 138:2 tells us:

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (emphasis added)

Because God has magnified His Word above His name, this lets us know we will never experience His presence in any way that is not totally consistent with the truth of His Word. Thus, we can know that any presence that comes calling and claims the name of “Jesus” as its own but does not line up in every way with God’s Word is not the presence of God. God will never put His name or experiencing His presence above His Word.

The true Jesus Christ tells us:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

God is always present with us—a presence that will never be magnified above His Word. If we choose to put experiencing God’s presence above His Word, we are leaving ourselves open and vulnerable to the visits of a counterfeit presence.

For the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling, experiencing His presence is everything. This is his invitation:

Open yourself to My loving Presence, so that I may fill you with My fullness. I want you to experience how wide and long and high and deep is My Love for you, so that you can know My Love that surpasses knowledge. This vast ocean of Love cannot be measured or explained, but it can be experienced.1

Taste and see that I am good. This command contains an invitation to experience My living Presence. It also contains a promise. The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.2

It is not surprising that a counterfeit presence will emphasize its own presence above the Word of God because the Word of God is where we find the truth of God. And this false Christ uses Psalm 34:8 which says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good,” to make the case for “tasting” his presence. But as we see in Psalm 119:103-104, we are to “taste” the Word of God:

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (emphasis added)

Also, we are told in the next verse of this Psalm:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

It is God’s Word that is the light of our path—a light in which we can clearly see that a presence is counterfeit. It is for good reason that God will never put His name or experiencing His presence above the light of His Word. But in Jesus Calling, “Jesus” goes out of his way to promote the experience of his presence—an experience that lets the “Light” of his presence “soak into you” as a substitute for the revealing light of God’s Word:

My Word is a lamp to your feet; My Presence is a Light for your path.3 (emphasis added)

Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me. Thus I equip you to face whatever the day brings.4 (emphasis added)

It is in the revealing light of God’s Word that the true Jesus Christ warns:

Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. (Luke 11:35)

However, the “Jesus” that comes calling as an “abiding Presence” wants to “soak” you with the light that is dark. And he says:

My abiding Presence is the best road map available.5 (emphasis added)

Begin each day anticipating problems, asking Me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter. The best equipping is My living Presence.6 (emphasis added)

You need the certainty of My loving Presence in order to weather the storms of life. During times of severe testing, even the best theology can fail you if it isn’t accompanied by experiential knowledge of Me.7 (emphasis added)

But Scripture tells us:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As mentioned, the word “Presence” is found more than 365 times in Jesus Calling. And in both God Calling [the occultic book that inspired Sarah Young to write Jesus Calling] and Jesus Calling, “Jesus” states that experiencing his presence will unlock secret teachings, new revelations, and future things to come. The “Jesus” of God Calling states:

For you, My children, I will unlock the secret treasures hidden from so many.8 (emphasis added)

You must ponder on these truths I give you. They are not surface facts, but the secrets of My Kingdom, the hidden pearls of rare price.9 (emphasis added)

And the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling states:

Instead, I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure, revealing to you things you did not know. Stay in communication with Me. Follow My guiding Presence.10 (emphasis added)

As you follow Me, I lead you along paths of newness: ways you have never imagined.11 (emphasis added)

Sarah Young wanted “more” than what was communicated in God’s Word—and “more” is exactly what she got. It would seem that “a word from God” became more important than the Word of God. This yearning for “more” is what helped open her up to experiencing a presence that is only too glad to give her its new revelations and new truths. She writes in Jesus Calling:

The following year, I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.12 (emphasis added)

The presence that came calling on Sarah Young is extending an invitation to the readers of Jesus Calling to experience his presence as well—an invitation that is depicted in the book cover’s inviting hand. Keep in mind that another invitation is also taking place. If we choose to sit “with pen in hand” waiting to hear “more” than God’s inspired Holy Word, we, too, have an inviting hand. But what presence are we actually inviting into our lives?

If one becomes dependent on a subjective presence rather than the objective Holy Bible, deception is inevitable. That is why it is crucial to compare what is taught by anyone or anything to the revealing light of God’s Word. Test the spirits of any presence that may appear in your devotions and quiet times.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)


1. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 234.
2. Ibid., p. 187.
3. Ibid., p. 233.
4. Ibid., p. 3.
5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. Ibid., p.135.
7. Ibid,. p. 352.
8. Two Listeners; Edited by A. J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 43.
9. Ibid., p. 21.
10. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 314.
11. Ibid., p. 189.
12. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., pp. XI-XII.

(This has been an extract of Warren B. Smith’s book, “Another Jesus” Calling, 2nd ed.)


BOOKLET HIGHLIGHT: "I Just Had a Vision!"

“I Just Had a Vision!” written by Kevin Reeves, is specifically geared toward passing out to those who are involved in movements such as the River movement, Latter Rain, Word Faith, IHOP, Kansas City Prophets, Toronto Blessing, Brownsville Revival (i.e., hyper-charismatic.).  Below is the content of the booklet (the names of people and churches have been changed). To order copies of “I Just Had a Vision!,” click here.

I Just Had A Vision“I Just Had a Vision”

by Kevin Reeves

There is perhaps nothing so powerful as a vision. When the heavens open and our eyes look upon fantastic things once hidden, it can alter the course of our lives:

 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1–5)

A glimpse into heaven itself to behold the God of all flesh made Isaiah panic with self-loathing. His innermost heart was revealed in the light of the Lord’s glory, and there was no place to hide.

Who wouldn’t want to have a vision of this magnitude? And why shouldn’t we? On the day of Pentecost, the Christians present experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “[A]nd your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

Never in the history of our planet have so many who call themselves Christian claimed visions from God. Encounters with Christ, angels, demons, even saints long departed have begun to appear in book form, crowding the charismatic section of our local Christian bookstores. The popularity of visions never seems to wane, and the more a person has and the greater the scope, the quicker he is skyrocketed to Christian stardom. People with virtually no genuine theological training are suddenly propelled into the teaching arena, regaling vast audiences with tremendous accounts of their own spiritual derring-do. And while the stories continue to scale the heights of plausibility, an amazed public looks on, vicariously a part of the panoramic excitement and often with hands folded atop a closed Bible in their laps.

Sadly and without exaggeration, Sunday services at New Covenant Fellowship, my former church, were routinely stopped to give opportunity to report a vision that occurred during worship. Many in the congregation would listen with rapt attention as one person after another would share what had transpired “in the spirit.” Sometimes demons would make an appearance; sometimes it was the Lord Jesus Himself.

Angels were a particular favorite. I can’t tell you how many times angels have made an impromptu appearance at our services.

Jeannette McElroy seemed graced with multiple visitations. On one particular Sunday afternoon, Jeannette had gone up to the front of the sanctuary, in the middle of a worship song, to speak privately with worship leader Beth Clayton, Pastor Phil’s wife. Beth held her hand over the microphone, listened momentarily to Jeannette, and then nodded. At the end of the song, Beth in triumph noted the presence of the two angelic beings seen by Jeannette. They were there to worship with us, she exclaimed, and she led the congregation into a brief period of shouting praise to God for sending His angelic emissaries.

No one halted the festivities to suggest examining the claim in the light of God’s Word. It was merely taken at face value and used to bolster our self-image as the church on the cutting-edge of God’s world­wide movement. By then several months into my own charismatic research, I exchanged a brief, frustrated glance with my wife, Kris.

When I later brought up the angel incident in an eldership meeting, Beth staunchly denied she’d promoted the vision. She maintained she had merely acknowledged Jeannette’s word and left it to the congregation to decide its veracity. But my wife and I were both there. The way it is described above is exactly the way it happened. Interestingly, none of the rest of the leadership in the room nixed Beth’s version, despite the fact that some were present during the “angelic visitation.”

Tunnel Vision
The cries of “I saw!” reverberated throughout New Covenant Fellowship my whole tenure there. Sometimes the visions were two-dimensional, sometimes 3-D, and sometimes the person was actually caught up into them, in the same way the apostle John was translated into the heavenly realms in the book of Revelation. They moved as participants in the vision itself, walking, feeling, etc. As Pastor Tom consistently reminded the congregation of its prophetic calling, dreams and visions grew to paramount importance. They were used to chart our congregation’s very course, and any resistance or verbal doubt was severely frowned upon or openly dismissed.

Never having been much involved with either prophecy or visions, I had no foundation of experience from which to judge. I left the decision to the rest of the leadership, to accept or reject whatever came forth with the label of vision. Finally, during my last year as elder, I did my own Bible study on the subject, and what I discovered left me angry, frightened, and delighted. Angry, because I felt we had been duped personally and congregationally.

Many people cannot appreciate the gravity with which visions are accepted in many charismatic circles, and consequently cannot understand the bondage that results. If someone has a vision of “the Lord Jesus” and is given a message to convey to you, for you to treat it lightly is to despise the very words of God. You are bound to carry out the instructions of this visionary or face the consequences. The ensuing fear can be devastating, especially if the message contradicts your own conscience or understanding of the Scriptures.

The new believer is especially vulnerable because he is led to believe that all these visions are from God. Furthermore, any hindrance to, or lack of visions on his own part is due, he is told, to lack of maturity and failure to fully trust the leadership.

Accepting everything that comes down the pike as from God is like driving a car while wearing blinders. You can’t see the big picture. Your actual focus becomes so constrained that you miss necessary landmarks to indicate proper direction—not to mention the fact that sooner or later you’ll get sideswiped by a vehicle you never saw coming.

On the Wings of Angels
At my best count, there are less than thirty visions or dreams recorded in the entire New Testament, and of these only about fifteen took place in the book of Acts. And this in a period, from the birth of Christ to the last chapter of Acts, encompassing about sixty years.

I have come to the conclusion that visions are not the norm for a believer, but a rare occurrence. Of those saints in the Bible described as having bona fide visions from God, a mere handful had more than one recorded vision in their entire lifetime.

Furthermore, none of these occurrences were initiated by the individual, but were the result of a divine act of God. In explaining mystical experiences, which is the category visions fall into, I like this explanation by research analyst Ray Yungen:

While certain instances in the Bible describe mystical experiences, I see no evidence anywhere of God sanctioning man-initiated mysticism. Legitimate mystical experiences were always initiated by God to certain individuals for certain revelations and were never based on a method for the altering of consciousness. In Acts 11:5, Peter fell into a trance while in prayer. But it was God, not Peter, who initiated the trance and facilitated it.1

Compared with the frequency of modern visions by many charismatic churchgoers, these past biblical heroes seem almost deficient in their relationship to the Lord.

Concerning the visitation of angelic beings themselves, the scriptural record directly conflicts with such experiences. In our own meetings, those with frequent visions of angels had often depicted them as merely standing around, enjoying or participating in a worship service with us. Contrast this with the biblical model of angelic visitation. In both Old and New Testaments, angels are beings sent by God to give verbal messages (often concerning the future), to administer divine judgment, to strengthen and comfort, and to give specific direction, warnings, and deliverance from dangers. Their appearing was an amazing event; fear was the natural human reaction to their presence, or at the very least an awed respect. Visions of angels in the church of today, however, nearly always produce glee or a giddy joyfulness, little awe, no fear, and often the “angels” are just standing enjoying themselves and have no message from God. In heaven this may sometimes happen (we simply don’t know), but the scriptural precedent demonstrates their earthly visitation always heralded a direct message from the Lord and their very presence caused an immediate shock to the person witnessing it. In those times when angels hid their identity (Genesis 19) they were viewed as mere men, and when they made their identity known, the reaction was fear, shock, and awe.

Likewise, visions of any kind, in both Old and New Testament, appeared to be very rare occurrences. Acts 2:17 has been used to support the argument of increased occurrence of visions in the end-times, but the context of Scripture shows that we have been in the last days for the past two thousand years. If anyone should have had a preponderance of visions, you’d think it would have been the apostles, who knew the Lord Jesus face-to-face and wrote the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

All in the Mind?
I believe that most of what are reported as visions are not such at all, but could be more appropriately termed mental pictures. The two are certainly not synonymous. Mental pictures occur constantly during our waking hours but don’t necessarily have anything to do with the spiritual, whereas visions always have their origin in the supernatural realm. As we speak in conversation, we see mental images, memories, etc., to correspond with the dialogue; reading gives us the same experience. Even television viewing offers the same scenario, as the images dancing across the screen click off our own past experiences or connections with our present situations. This can transpose into our times of prayer, giving us mental pictures that may or may not be of God.

This conclusion really upset my wife Kris (the first dozen times I mentioned it!) because she had often relied on mental pictures as a guide when praying for others. Encouraged by the leadership as prophetic, Kris watched the pictures that arose in her mind for clues to the spiritual condition of the person she was praying for, and the subsequent remedy.

After personal Bible study and serious prayer, she came to question this method and eventually discard it as a valid practice in ministry. The practice itself can be dangerous, actually maneu­vering an innocent Christian in the wrong direction. In many cults, and, unfortunately in much of the Pentecostal arm of the church, it has already done just that.

That is not to say that all images we see are wrong. Some may be quite correct at times. But “[w]e have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Peter 1:19). The Word of God is the mirror in which to examine all our practices, thoughts, deeds, and desires. If God had left anything out of His written record, the void would allow all manner of personal interpretations or inventions to prosper. The resultant chaos would cripple any objective discernment.

Quality Testing
According to the Bible, there are three sources of visions—God, the devil, and the flesh. Of these, only one can be trusted as to motive and authenticity. As for the other spiritual experiences originating with the kingdom of darkness or human sensuality, they must be discarded, and immediately. They are not impotent fantasies, but are corrupt from the word go and will quickly lead astray anyone whose attraction they capture:

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 13:3–8)

I cannot stress this enough—contrary to popular fallacy, there is no such thing as a harmless false vision. Its fraudulent nature alone is enough to condemn it in the eyes of God; those who give ear to it will eventually have their faith in Christ contaminated, perhaps shipwrecked. Attendees of the Peoples Temple were regaled with stories of angelic visitations and “revelation knowledge.” The reverend Jim Jones capitalized on his self-proclaimed intimacy with heaven to lead a group of followers into mass suicide in the Guyana bush.2 Don’t think that the average believer in Christ is immune to this kind of deception. In the wake of gold teeth and gold dust miracles showing up in various River congregations worldwide, stories of angel feather sightings have set a portion of the charismatic church wild with jubilee. One West Coast church said that “tiny white feathers and gold flakes” appeared during the service.3 Such occurrences were the next logical step in an already deception-heavy system of super-spirituality, rationalization, and the frenzied pursuit of illusion.

While there could be genuine godly visions that do take place today, they are very rare and not apt to guide people into the fantastic or to gather a following. Contrast this with the nearly cult status accorded some presumed seers, who not only relate a plethora of dreams and visions that contradict biblical foundations but who make a rather decent living doing it through books, conferences, special engagements, etc. The overused mantra of “God is doing a new thing and therefore the Scriptures don’t specifically address it” should be relegated to the ash heap. Any true heavenly vision may only confirm what is already in the Scriptures:

And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (I Corinthians 4:6)

Do not go past that which is written. Through Scripture, the Holy Spirit repeatedly makes the same statement in manifold ways:

 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:13–17)

A master of camouflage, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14). We are admonished to put to trial those things we see or hear claiming to be from the heavenly realms:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:1–3)

To confess means to agree with. Any spirit, vision, dream, prophet, experience, whatever, that does not agree with the revelation of Jesus Christ as set down in the Scriptures is not of God. Water may look pure, but unless we know the source from which it is drawn we may drink to our own ill health. A close examination with a magnifying glass may betray bits and pieces of debris, or worse yet, organisms roaming its depths that, taken internally, would cause debilitating disease.

Am I suggesting we carry around a magnifier to inspect anything coming our way? Perhaps that is just what is needed. For too long, we’ve covered our eyes with blinders instead and accepted a testimony to our detriment, simply because the person giving it named Christ and seemed sincere. Paul said even deceivers within the church would attempt to pass themselves off as the real article (II Corinthians 11: 3–4, 13). We can judge without being judgmental.

Peripheral issues we can overlook, knowing full well the sole reservoir of truth does not rest with us.

But in the presentation of Christ, there can be no leeway. A false image of the Savior—His character, words or deeds—will lead us away from the truth, and consequently, away from God. And eventually, that is what every fraudulent vision will do—take away from the person of Christ and demand our attention and adherence to its personalized message. I have seen it happen, as one vision after another proclaimed in my former congregation boosted our elitism and remolded Jesus just a bit more into the user-friendly image we preferred. With virtually no accountability, fear of redefining Christ’s biblically revealed character faded bit by bit into obscurity.

This current state of things within the church is just the outgrowth of an inner movement attempting to differentiate between truth and revelation. It is being stated by popular charismatic authors that truth is where God has been, but revelation is where He is at the moment. This dichotomy is a contrived one. The Word of God is truth and revelation both, and the timeless truth of God’s Word applies to all saints throughout all ages. Again, the implication of this kind of compartmentalized thinking is that the Scriptures fall embarrassingly short when it comes to equipping the saints for life in today’s world.

What should shame us as believers is the wholesale disregard for the only visible, objective, sure, written Word of God. In our mad dash to embrace the new thing, we have run right past the only place of refuge, God’s Promise, that can keep us from hurtling down the face of an impossibly steep cliff. I can testify to the broken lives and empty spirituality that remains when the initial high wears off. We had congregation members regularly spending their cash to jet to this or that prophetic conference. They just had to keep up with the latest move of God, and bring it back with them to New Covenant. Running after other gods, ancient Israel attained to this spiritual bankruptcy on a regular basis. But we can take heart, for their failures can be our lessons:

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

For those former seers willing to swallow a large helping of humble pie, there is most certainly hope. For those willing to repent, the grace of our Lord will lead past every soulish and narcissistic revelation, helping us to walk in humility and the simple freedom of Christ Jesus.

For the rest, the road can only lead further into deception and confusion, compounding itself with every new revelation that adds to, subtracts from, or contradicts Scripture.

I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name. (Jeremiah 23: 25-27)

To order copies of “I Just Had a Vision!,” click here.

1. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd edition, 2006), p. 34.
2. In 1978, cult leader Jim Jones lead over 900 followers in a mass suicide in northern Guyana.
3. Mary Owen “Oregon Church Says Gold Dust, Feathers Fell During Meetings” (Charisma magazine, September 2000,

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