LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH          June 18, 2018     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING
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“Indiana Teacher Challenges School’s Transgender Name Policy”

John Kluge

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes.

By Arial Jao
NBC News

A central Indiana teacher says his former school district forced him to resign following a disagreement over a policy that calls for teachers to address transgender students by their preferred name rather than their birth name.

Former Brownsburg High School orchestra teacher John Kluge, 28, said the Brownsburg Community Schools policy goes against his religious beliefs and violates his constitutional rights, the Indianapolis Star reported.

“I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle,” he said. “I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing.” Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Video of School Board meeting with John Kluge

NEW BOOKLET: TRANSGENDERISM and Our Children

 

Taking the Gospel to the Siberian People

Georgi Vins in 1977 at the Yakutsk prison camp

LTRP Note: As many of you know, Lighthouse Trails is the publisher for a book called The Gospel in Bonds, written by the late pastor Georgi Vins. Pastor Vins spent 8 years in a USSR prison camp in the 1960s and 1970s for preaching the Gospel during the Soviet communist regime. Today, Pastor Vins’ daughter, Natasha, and her husband, Alexander, operate the Georgi Vins Siberian Ministry. Together, they have courageously gone into Siberia, year after year and taken the message of the Gospel to people groups who otherwise would not have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. The following June newsletter describes the latest trip by Alexander and his team to Siberian villages. It is faithful small ministries like Natasha and Alexander’s that have remained true to God’s commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every person.

“I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named . . . but as it is written . . . they that have not heard shall understand.”—Romans 15:20-21

Dear praying friends,

Here is a brief report on Alexander’s ministry in Siberia in the last six weeks. Thank you for praying for open doors and open hearts: the Lord provided many opportunities to share His truth. During his overnight 5-hour flight from Moscow to Bratsk, Siberia, the passenger next to him was so interested in learning about God and eternal life that they talked all night. Pray for the Holy Spirit to continue working in this man’s heart.

The first two weeks in Bratsk, as Alexander was readying the supplies for the outreach, he had many occasions to share God’s name. When team members Paul, Alex, and Peter arrived in Bratsk, they loaded the truck and headed down rough rural roads toward the N. Tunguska River several hundred miles away.

Spring was late in Siberia this year, and there was still snow in the forest. Sleeping in tents was tough as at night the temperature dropped to a freezing point. Our team also experienced boat damage on the rocky and turbulent river, but relying on God’s help they were able to fix these problems and continued to press on. As they went from village to village, the Lord provided many opportunities to share His name.

The highlight was reaching the most remote village where the Evenks live. Alexander had to hire a local guide to help our team locate this settlement on a small river deep in the forest. The Evenks were friendly to the newcomers and quite open to hear about God. After getting better acquainted with our men, they mentioned two tiny settlements many miles away deeper in the forest and even offered to show the way.

The next morning Alexander and Paul headed in their boat one direction with an Evenk guide, and Peter and Alex followed another guide to the other settlement. In both places the Lord gave our team unique opportunities. When the four of them got reunited again, they sat around the campfire and praised Jesus for such an amazing answer to their prayers “that God would open unto us a door . . .  to speak the mystery of Christ . . .” to the Evenk people (Colossians 4:3). For the first time ever, these villagers heard the Gospel!

It was four years ago that Alexander first heard about this large Evenk settlement, so remote and hidden in the forest that even people in villages along the river had no idea how to find it. Alexander immediately started praying for a way to get there. As he continued to inquire, finally last summer God led him to a man who knew how to get to this Evenk village. He agreed to guide our team there, but also warned that these people could be really unfriendly to strangers.

These challenges to reach Evenks were time and again brought to the Lord in prayer by our team members, their families, and their home churches. And now, after four years of persistent prayer, God graciously answered: not only our team did reach this village and had such a favorable reception, but also they were directed to two other Evenk settlements and proclaimed the Good News there as well.

Please join us in thanksgiving to our faithful God for His great wisdom in directing our ways in reaching the Siberian people:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Dear friends, your prayers and support for this ministry are helping take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. Pray that the seed of the Gospel sown in remote and hidden Siberian villages will bear much fruit to the glory of God. (Please see one of the photos [below] from the outreach.

Thank you also for praying for me (Natasha) while Alexander is in Siberia. I’m grateful to the Lord for providing His strength day by day and for the loving care of my local Christian friends.

Serving Him together,

Natasha – for both of us

(*Natasha tells of her life as a Christian youth living in a communist country while her father was in prison for preaching the Gospel in her book Children of the Storm. )

You may write to Alexander and Natasha at:
P.O. Box 1188,
Elkhart, IN, 46515

LTRP Note: Please remember to support and pray for ministries such as this one and Understand the Times Bryce Homes. 

Alexander (right) and Paul with Evenk family.

 

 

Pew: 25% of Survey’s Christians Don’t Buy Biblical God

By Diana Chandler
Baptist Press

A fourth of self-identified Christians don’t believe fully in the biblical description of God, Pew Research Center said in its latest study.

Rather, 25 percent of American Christians believe in what Pew described as “God or another higher power” who is not necessarily all-loving, omniscient and omnipotent as Scripture reveals.

“In total, three-quarters of U.S. Christians believe that God possesses all three of these attributes — that the deity is loving, omniscient and omnipotent,” Pew found in the study of about 4,750 Americans released April 25. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Book Review – The New Christians by Tony Jones

The English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible. “A Dream Come True”?

Biblical Christianity – The Biggest Obstacle to the New Age

 

 

“Indiana Teacher Challenges School’s Transgender Name Policy”
Taking the Gospel to the Siberian People
Pew: 25% of Survey’s Christians Don’t Buy Biblical God

YWAM—Wants Every YWAMer to Practice Contemplative Prayer!

A Book Review: To Unpack Roma Downey’s “Box of Butterflies” Is to Discover a Core False Teaching (And Christian Leaders Love It)
Guest Commentary: Combating Error—Whose Job Is It?
NEW BOOKLET (FOR THE WEARY AND DOWNTRODDEN): PSALM 23—The Faithfulness of God
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Visit the Understand the Times website for the latest updates on the Bryce Homes International missions outreach.

YWAM—Wants Every YWAMer to Practice Contemplative Prayer!

Ywam and Contemplative PrayerYWAM (Youth With a Mission), an evangelical missions organization (founded in 1960  by Loren Cunningham) that trains about 25,000 people every year for world-wide mission trips, has issued an announcement regarding its commitment to teaching contemplative prayer. On Saturday, a reader alerted Lighthouse Trails to a June 2018 YWAM promotional audio piece on the YWAM website promoting contemplative prayer practices. While Lighthouse Trails has known about YWAM's propensity toward contemplative prayer for over a decade, this month's promo is one of the more blatant ministry-wide efforts YWAM has taken in bringing the organization's participants fully on board with the New Age/New Spirituality contemplative prayer movement.  The promo begins:

Thank you for joining us this month as we take up “The Invitation” and join together with thousands of YWAMers from around the world as we pray and hear from God about Contemplative Prayer.1

It was in 2006 that Lighthouse Trails first alerted our readers to YWAM's interest in contemplative prayer and the emergent church in an article titled,  "Red Moon Rising: An Army for God with a "Violent Reaction."2 That article revealed that YWAM had partnered with the UK contemplative group 24/7 Prayer with Pete Greig and his mystical boiler rooms that were becoming part of many churches' youth programs.

Over the years, Lighthouse Trails has observed that YWAM has seen nothing wrong with contemplative spirituality. As we saw with other organizations that have gone in this direction, we witnessed YWAM changing their philosophy on how to do missions (what we call "the new missiology"). In Roger Oakland's 2007 book on the emerging church, Faith Undone, Oakland states:

A May/June 2000 issue of Watchman’s Trumpet magazine explains what this new missiology really entails:

"Several international missions organizations, including Youth With a Mission (YWAM), are testing a new approach to missionary work in areas where Christianity is unwelcome. A March 24, 2000, Charisma News Service report said some missionaries are now making converts but are allowing them to “hold on to many of their traditional religious beliefs and practices” so as to refrain from offending others within their culture."

The Charisma article in which Watchman’s Trumpet reports elaborates:

“'Messianic Muslims' who continue to read the Koran, visit the mosque and say their daily prayers but accept Christ as their Savior, are the products of the strategy, which is being tried in several countries, according to Youth With a Mission (YWAM), one of the organizations involved."

The Charisma story reports that a YWAM staff newsletter notes the new converts’ lifestyle changes (or lack thereof):

"They [the new converts] continued a life of following the Islamic requirements, including mosque attendance, fasting and Koranic reading, besides getting together as a fellowship of Muslims who acknowledge Christ as the source of God’s mercy for them."

When one of the largest missionary societies (YWAM) becomes a proponent of the new missiology, telling converts they can remain in their own religious traditions, the disastrous results should be quite sobering for any discerning Christian.3

The reason it's important to mention this section by Roger Oakland is because this new way of looking at missions (viewing it in more interspiritual terms) is one of the "fruits" of contemplative prayer.  As Ray Yungen, who researched the contemplative prayer movement for over twenty years, often stated, when one begins practicing this mystical form of prayer, one's views on the Cross, on salvation, and on God's Word begin to be altered. In time, the contemplative practitioner begins to embrace a more panentheistic (God in all), interspiritual (all paths lead to God) view. This is why Lighthouse Trails keeps warning about contemplative prayer. We have been accused of being haters, dividers, bigots, and troublemakers because we do not let up. But when one realizes that practicing contemplative prayer puts a person in great spiritual danger, warning about it is actually an act of love, not hate, as some suppose.

Brennan Manning, a favorite contemplative of YWAM and other mission groups (such as Young Life), made the following revealing remarks in his popular book The Signature of Jesus:

[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.

[C]ontemplative spirituality tends to emphasize the need for a change in consciousness . . . we must come to see reality differently.

Choose a single, sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often.

[E]nter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard.4

Lighthouse Trails believes that this "Voice of Love" reached during contemplative prayer is not the voice of God at all, but rather it is from the same source as that reached during Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, and New Age meditation. As most mystics teach, the methods are the same, and the results are the same. Consider this by occultist Richard Kirby from his book The Mission of Mysticism:

The meditation of advanced occultists [New Agers] is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics [contemplatives]: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities—contemplation.5

The YWAM audio promotional on contemplative prayer continues:

In this edition of The Invitation, we invite you to consider what we can learn from the contemplative tradition of the global Church, and why contemplative practices might be a helpful balance to our busy, activity-oriented lives.

Steve Cochrane, one of YWAM’s leaders, spoke of his own journey into contemplative practices. “In the past decade, I’ve been on a more focused pilgrimage to listen to what Spirit is saying from a diversity of those that have walked the road before in deeper devotion to Christ.”  As Steve says, the work of “friends from the past” teaches us to sink down into the presence of God in the midst of our active lives.6

Contemplatives believe that in order for us to really hear the voice of God, we must remove all mental distractions and thoughts. Since the brain is always active and thoughts cannot be stopped, we need a method to "still the mind" (i.e., put it into neutral, so to speak). How can we do that? Through a mantric-like practice (repeating a word or phrase until we can get our minds into an altered state). When YWAM leader Steve Cochrane talks about "friends from the past" who teach us how to "sink down into the presence of God," he is speaking of the mystics. Cochrane, who works with the University of the Nations, is the author of the 2017 book, Many Monks Across the Sea: Church of the East Monastic Mission in Ninth-Century Asia.  One of the books Cochrane mentions in his bibliography is Merton and Sufism. In A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen describes a story from Merton and Sufism where Thomas Merton is talking to a Sufi teacher (an Islamic mystic) about Merton's desire for unity between Christians and Muslims. The Sufi teacher tells Merton that doctrines such as salvation through the atonement ( the Cross) keep that unity from happening. Merton agrees but suggests that unity can take place at the mystical level where such beliefs of "little value" can be ignored. Merton stated:

Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy [of the Cross] is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas . . . in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . . But much more important [than the Cross] is the sharing of the experience of divine light . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam.7

For Merton, the "fruitful dialogue" that can be obtained (through mysticism) between Christians and Muslims was more important than preaching the Gospel that proclaims salvation through Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.

The YWAM audio continues:

Over recent years, a significant number of us in the YWAM family have, like Steve, been growing more familiar with contemplative practices.  . . . Since around the third century the people of God have been engaging in practices that we now call Contemplative . . . A few of these contemplative practices involve: breath prayers, which consist of praying a short phrase with your in- and your out-breath; lectio devina [divina], which is a meditative way of reading short passages of scripture; and silent prayer such as Centering Prayer.8

What is YWAM's hope? To see everyone who is involved with YWAM practice contemplative prayer:

If you only have a few moments to pray, ask the Lord to convict each of our students and workers to experience God in deeper ways through contemplative methods.9

If you know someone who is working with YWAM, please ask that person to read this article and to reconsider working in an organization that believes mystical practices are the path to hearing God's voice. As born-again believers, we have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, neither of which direct us to repeat a word or phrase or focus on the breath to be led by God. God is much greater than that, and He can lead us faithfully without any help from teachings that lead people AWAY from the Cross rather than to it.

Endnotes:
1. https://ywam.org/blog/2018/06/11/contemplative-prayer/
2. https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4009
3. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone: the emerging church—a new reformation or an end-time deception (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 175; citing 1) “Youth with a Mission Experiments with New, Unscriptural Missions Strategy” (Foundation, Watchman’s Trumpet, May - June 2000, http://www.feasite.org/WTrumpet/fbcwt004.htm#Youth%20With), p. 39 and 2) Andy Butcher, “Radical Missionary Approach Produces ‘Messianic Muslims’ Retaining Islamic Identity” (Charisma News Service, March 24, 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/20010818051517/www.charismanew s.com/news.cgi?a=285&t=news.html).
4. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 212-218
5. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
6 https://ywam.org/blog/2018/06/11/contemplative-prayer/
7.  From Ray Yungen in A Time of Departing (pp. 59-60) citing from Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 109.
8. https://ywam.org/blog/2018/06/11/contemplative-prayer
9. Ibid.

Related Information:

5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen

So You Want to Practice "Good" Contemplative Prayer—What's Wrong With That by Lynn Pratt

Oneness vs. Separation Heresy “Now” in the Church by Warren B. Smith

Focus on the Family STILL Defends Contemplative Prayer—Says Jesus and Disciples Practiced It

Photo: SCREENSHOT OF YWAM JUNE 2018 PROMO FOR CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER (Used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act for purposes of critique and review)

 
A Book Review: To Unpack Roma Downey’s “Box of Butterflies” Is to Discover a Core False Teaching (And Christian Leaders Love It)

Rick and Kay Warren Endorse Roma Downey's new book, Box of Butterflies

Banner: From Box of Butterflies website: used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act for purposes of critique and review.

LTRP Note: The fact that Roma Downey’s recently released, New Age-promoting book, Box of Butterflies, is being endorsed by numerous evangelical leaders like Rick and Kay Warren, Focus on the Family, Jonathan Falwell, Craig Groeschel, John Hagee, Max Lucado, Erwin McManus, Luis Palau Association, Hillsong, and Ronnie Floyd (the last SBC president) is reason to read this review in its entirety. We find it outrageous that Roma Downey has received a pass into the evangelical church from many of its leading figures, including David Jeremiah and Greg Laurie—and for the most part, no one seems to care. The New Age is not coming into the church—it is in the church already, at least this apostate pseudo church that is fast growing and fulfilling endtime Bible prophecy right under everyone’s noses.

By Lois Putnam

Have you ever received a package wrapped in the most attractive paper only to eagerly rip off its wrappings to find something inside you couldn’t have imagined? This is much like Roma Downey’s beautiful new book Box of Butterflies for although its author is sincere and gracious, and its stories are inspirational and hopeful when fully opened, one will discover a core false teaching that runs throughout its pages. And so, because Scripture reminds us to test all things, this review will attempt to unpack how its author incorporates this teaching throughout the book.

Unpacking Its Foreword

Box of Butterflies begins with a short foreword by the late Della Reese with whom Roma had an extraordinary relationship that began with Della playing “Tess,” Roma’s partner-angel, on the well-known Touched by an Angel series. About Della, Roma wrote, “She has become the first person I call when I need wisdom, and she is a loving teacher and instructor.” (p.36) Such was Della’s influence on Roma that she also became Roma’s surrogate mother, a godmother to Roma’s daughter Reilly, and the officiator at Roma and Mark’s wedding. (p.35) (p.132)

Della was also a pastor of the New Thought “Up Church.” New Thought teaches one that the Bible is just a book containing the sacred writings of any religion. It believes too ” … in God, the living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause; and it believes ” …in the incarnation of the Spirit in US, and that all PEOPLE are incarnations of the One Spirit.” Dear reader, this is what Della believed, for Della Reese, along with such men as Eckhart Tolle, and Neale Donald Walsch, are listed among their “Modern Notable Members.” As Christian as Reese’s foreword may seem, Reese’s beliefs are unbiblical.
https://www.amazon.com/Box-Butterflies-Discovering-Unexpected-Blessings/dp/1501150936; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Thought

Unpacking Its “Introduction”

Mary Oliver
Roma’s “Introduction” begins with Mary Oliver’s poem: “I Have Decided.” Roma writes, “I love the poems of Mary Oliver … there is something about the beauty and honesty of her poems that echoes the prayers of my heart. She reminds me of the simplicity of faith, of how God’s image is reflected in nature all around us, and when we are quiet we can connect to the stillness within ourselves, we can hear him speak.” (p.1) Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

NEW BOOKLET – Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs

 

Guest Commentary: Combating Error—Whose Job Is It?

LTRP Note: The following commentary was submitted in relation to our recent article “Francis Chan Warns Those Who Criticize Christian Leaders: “God Will Destroy You.”

By Victor Scipioni
Guest Commentary

In Revelation 4:11, it says:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Given that we are created for God’s pleasure, it stands to reason that as a Christian, our primary goal should be to please God; that is why we were made.

Each of us can come up with a list of things the Scriptures say we should do—that if we do these things, we can expect we will please God. Some of the instructions and commands we might put on that list are “love,” “obey,” “serve,” and, of course, “trust” Him. Jesus’ willingness and desire to obey God the Father is a good example of how we ought to desire to please the Father.

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)

But where does combating error fit in to pleasing God? It fits in through obeying the instructions in His Word to do so. We are told specifically to be prepared at all times and in all seasons to rebuke those who do not adhere to sound teaching (doctrine). That constitutes combating error.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. (2 Timothy 4:2-3)

Combating error is a fight in which we must be willing to engage just like a boxer contends to try to win the title belt from the one who holds it. It is necessary.

[I]t was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)

Why was it needful for Jude to instruct his readers to “contend” for the faith? Because false teachers were creeping in, and his readers needed to combat the error these teachers were spreading.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

There is a difference between “apologetics” and combating error (which is called “polemics”). Apologetics comes from this verse:

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

The word “answer” is “apologia” in Greek, from where we get our word apologetics. It means to defend what we believe. Polemics is directly refuting error and comes from the word “polemos” in Greek, which is often translated “war” or “battle” in the KJV. This verse represents its application:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Polemics is the fight against errors that exalt themselves against the right knowledge of God.

Can someone who studies or teaches truth avoid recognizing and pointing out error? Did Jesus? Paul? Peter? James? John? Jude? No, they didn’t avoid it. Exhortations to truth and warnings about error abound from them all, often going hand-in-hand. As much as I might like to limit what I say to something like the adage, “you only need to read your Bible because if you spend all your time getting to know the truth you will spot error when it comes,” I have to admit that there is more to it than that. Studying God’s truth requires studying the warnings about error because the warnings are a part of His Word. Studying truth and error go hand in hand for all of us.

Therefore, since every believer should want to please God, and since following instruction pleases God, and we are instructed to combat error, every believer should be concerned with combating error on some level. There is no getting around it—save for excuses, laziness, or fear. Once we admit the necessity of and are committed to combating error, we should look for things to help us do it. Is combating error a full time job for everyone? It’s certainly a permanent aspect of our walk with the Lord but not necessarily a full-time ministry for each of us as it is for those who are called into such a ministry. The real problem is that many Christians avoid studying and comparing truth and error altogether.

Here are some ways each of us can avoid and combat error:

1. First and foremost we must love God supremely. That means loving Him more than we love our comfort zone. We all have comfort zones, the place we’d like to stay in so we don’t get stressed or challenged. Loving God supremely means being willing to leave our comfort zones and go where He sends us. Maybe it is a conversation He asks us to have or some literature He wants us to share. Whatever it is, we have to purpose in ourselves to be open and ready to accept the challenges He sends our way.

2. We need to care so much about what “truth” is that it forces us to care about “error” too. “Rightly dividing” the truth includes separating it from error. It is work, but we have to be ready to engage in it. You can’t separate truth from error if you can’t recognize both. That doesn’t mean we have to scour the earth looking for all kinds of error. If we limit our efforts to learning about the errors Scripture warns us about, such as idolatry, false Christ’s, false gospels, and false apostles, we will learn just about all we need to know. This makes us approved to God.

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)

3. We must have integrity, which in simple terms means consistency of one’s thoughts and actions. We need to take what we’ve heard and believe and put it to work in our lives. When God highlights some kind of truth or error during time spent praying, reading, or going to Bible study, we must make it our own by studying up on it for ourselves. Once we study an aspect of truth or error in depth and learn and even memorize the Scriptures that pertain to it, and possibly glean from other documentation, we can begin to put it into our own words and act on it. To put something in our own words does not mean practicing a scripted dialog of what we need to say when asked but is a way to capture it for ourselves so we cannot only point out error when we hear it, but put it into words to communicate it clearly and effectively.

4. We must pray for discernment from God by His Holy Spirit.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)

Discernment, which is often separating the Holy Spirit from false spirits, comes from testing each spiritual concept we are presented with from any source. Testing is a form of preparing to combat error. In order to “test” we need tools such as questions or Scriptures ready in our minds to measure what we hear against.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

5. Know the Scriptures because the Scriptures are how we know the truth and are also what protect us from the bondage of error.

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

Here are some more ways to consider for combating error as you make learning truth and separating it from error an increasing part of your walk with God:

• Nurture your personal, private relationship with God (see John 14:21).
• Fellowship with like-minded believers (see Roman 15:5).
• Follow, support and pray for discerning ministries (see 2 Thessalonians 3:1).
• Do not fear man (see Hebrews 13:6).
• Love others enough to throw them a rope even if it offends them (see 2 Timothy 2:25,26).
• Mark false teachers and teachings (see Romans 16:17).
• Avoid ministries that compromise the truth and the gospel (see Galatians 1:6,7).
• Realize that the most likely source of deception and error attacking the church comes from within the church (see Acts 20:29, 30).
• Take responsibility for using the resources and knowledge you are given (see 2 Timothy 4:5).
• Avoid living after the flesh in any area of your life because that weakens your spiritual strength and discernment in all areas of your walk with God (see Galatians 5:16).
• Recognize that some people who profess error are simply deceived by the enemy as he blinds their minds (2 Corinthians 4:4) and others are in league with the enemy and trying to drag others down (2 Corinthians 11:13).

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

NEW BOOKLET FOR THE WEARY AND DOWNTRODDEN: PSALM 23—The Faithfulness of God

NEW BOOKLET: PSALM 23—The Faithfulness of God by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of PSALM 23—The Faithfulness of God, click here.

Psalm 23: The Faithfulness of GodPSALM 23—The Faithfulness of God

By David Dombrowski

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

When David penned the words to Psalm 23, he attested in unquestioning words to the faithfulness of God. Verse 1 is one of the boldest statements found in Scripture because it testifies to the faithfulness of God from a man who had a unique relationship with the Lord. Here was a man after God’s own heart, a man who grew to believe that God is always faithful no matter what our position in life may be. God is glorious, and never can too much be said to the glory and majesty of God. Or as Jeremiah so aptly put it, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23). God’s mercies are enduring.

So let us listen as David takes up his melodic harp. In verse 1, with song unwavering, David proclaims his trust and enduring assurance to the faithfulness of God. David had been a meek shepherd who watched his flocks day after day, caring for them. He knew that God is a shepherd too, looking after His own. What a wonderful God we have. And just as he cared for all of the needs of his flock, David looked to his Lord to be the provider for all of his needs. Verse 1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” is a summation statement of all that follows in this psalm; yet this verse comes at the beginning rather than the end because each succeeding verse carries with it his resolute declaration to the faithfulness of God as the loving Shepherd who attends to all of the needs of His flock throughout our entire lifespan. Psalm 23 takes us through the sojourn the shepherd takes with his sheep to the mountain pastures and then back home again. I hope to describe the tone and testament to God’s character presented in this psalm.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Verse 2 then carries the message of God’s faithfulness found in verse 1 and renders it like the softer chords of a melody, alluding to the quiet love of the shepherd as he leads his sheep to green pastures bathed in the beauty of gently warming sunlight and soft breezes like a hand brushing over the tops of these slender grasses. To such a place, the shepherd brings his sheep to lay down if but for a little while to be renewed in the quiet confidence that gives strength—not so much in the physical event itself as in knowing and believing that the shepherd is there to sustain them. The shepherd then bids his sheep to come to the still waters; but more so than a bidding, he literally leads them to the still waters, which remind me so much of the living water Jesus offered to the woman He met at the well. The Word of God is life giving, like water to one who thirsts, in that it brings us to Jesus who is in the truest sense that living water springing up to eternal life. Notice again it says that the shepherd “leads.” The great wonder of the Christian faith is that it brings us to the Shepherd of our souls whose purpose is to guide us every step along our life-long journey. There can be no greater and truer comfort than knowing that Jesus is there guiding us. This quiet confidence is available to all who would be so bold as to yield their lives to Jesus by faith—trusting not in their ability to follow Him but in His ability to lead us. As the Scriptures say both implicitly and literally throughout the Bible, “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17), so too it is by faith that the Lord leads us. This is one of the great proclamations of this psalm—the Lord leads me; and He does so as we put our confidence in Him (not in ourselves) to do so.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Like the strummings of a melodic harp, we can hear the chords of restoration. Yes, there is nothing like spending the day under the watchful eye of the Shepherd of our souls. When we come to Him, He renews us and strengthens us. Nothing can really be compared to the work of regeneration God performs in us when we come to Jesus the first time; we are truly born from above at that time. Yet, Jesus then abides in us to continually renew and strengthen us. If you are a Christian who is feeling weary from the testings and trials of life, be assured that Jesus is knocking at your heart’s door to speak words of hope and comfort. Our journey may be difficult at times, but Jesus is there to renew us and bid us to go on. And on we go, from the pasture lands that feed us and the waters that restore our thirsty souls, on we go up into the hills. As Christians, no matter what station of life we are in, God has a call on each of our lives, and simply put, that call is to follow Him. And it is on the paths of righteousness that He leads us. Too often, we as Christians would want to get what we can out of life. There is the temptation to be selfish and self-centered. But God leads us on the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Our very lives should be a testament to the goodness and faithfulness of God. Today, there is much sin within God’s own flock. Let us remember that even though we are justified by the shed blood of Jesus alone, by faith alone, the fruit of our salvation should reflect the nature of God in our own character. That is why Paul said that the sins of immorality and ungodliness should not be named among us (Ephesians 5:3). As believers, we are being refined and renewed by the Holy Spirit who changes us continually “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23: The Faithfulness of GodVerse 4 proclaims the secret for knowing God’s peace. One of the ironies of life is that those who have known suffering are oftentimes the very ones who have found the lasting peace that can only come from Christ alone. Here the psalmist declares his abiding faith, refined by God’s testings, by saying he will not fear even under the shadow of death. David’s melodic harp continues on, and though the word “death” would ordinarily strike fear in the heart, somehow the music continues with beautiful chords beckoning our hearts to be still and witness the beauty of the Lord in the more trying moments of life. Up through the shadowy crags, the shepherd leads his sheep where predators often hide awaiting the moment when they can spring upon their victims. Yet, we learn here the secret of perfect peace in knowing that though danger may be near, and only God knows the outcome, we have hope and assurance that God is with us. The sheep know no fear when they know the shepherd is near; their hope and trust is that explicit. Is there any reason why we should not trust our Lord that fully? And, if there is a reason, what would that reason be?

His rod and staff, which are symbols of both his authority and ownership of the sheep, are also weapons of warfare, and hence bring a deep sense of comfort especially in this place of danger. Isn’t it true that God, who is mighty to correct and reprove His children, can by that same attribute bring comfort and peace as we know that no real harm can ever come to God’s people who put their trust in Him? Remember Jesus said: “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). Unfortunately, the fear of the Lord is being robbed from our present generation of young people. “New” spirituality leaders have converged on them like wolves in sheep’s clothing encouraging them to break away from the moral restraints presented in Scripture as well as from teachings on salvation that show how we are justified by faith through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross. The negative result from all of this is that our young people are being scattered from the watchful care of the true Shepherd only to have false teachers spring on them with all of their mortally toxic teachings.

I am so grateful that David, who was a good shepherd to his flock, became a shepherd to his people and pointed the way for us to see the true Shepherd of our souls. And here, there is great comfort in knowing God as He really is and trusting Him fully.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The melodic music continues from the harp, not halting or wavering from its beautiful tones, as the psalm continues in its stirring message. The shepherd has now brought his sheep up through the cliffs and crags of the mountainside to a “table” where the sheep can stop again and feed on the gentle grasses. Though the enemy yet lurks on the fringes of this plateau, the shepherd’s watchful eye keeps them safe. They proceed to graze again while the shepherd tends to the sheep individually, bearing his horn filled with healing oil. What a blessing it is to know the care of the shepherd, anointing his sheep with healing oil. I also appreciate the fact that, while the last verse speaks of “the shadow of death,” this one speaks of renewal. We all face the prospect of something negative happening to us or to those we care for, whether it be death itself or some kind of loss that makes our hopes and dreams seem unreachable and brings them to a grinding halt. But this verse demonstrates that we can go through the valley and come out on the other side. The strings of the harp now plucked to their most vibrant sound speak of those moments in life where perhaps all seems lost, but then renewed hope rings out with a new beginning or a way in which to go. It is the most joyous sound that speaks of God’s ability to take a difficult situation and bring light out of darkness and joy out of sorrow.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Now we come to the sweet refrain upon the harp. We return to the familiar pastures we call home. As if boasting before all who will hear, the sheep testify to the goodness and mercy of the Lord—whose mercies are new every morning; but also in their yearly transhumance,* the sheep return to winter in their pastoral home on the valley below. If we boast, let us boast in the Lord, and this psalm is a vibrant proclamation to the faithful care of our Good Shepherd throughout the days of our lives. Surely, the joy in life is in knowing that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, and we can know the joy of salvation even now.

The music has now ended as the tone of the vibrating harp-strings fades away. No doubt, this was a song of rare beauty as we have as our witness words unrivaled by songwriter or poet. Yet, there is something even more precious to behold than mere words and melody in that this psalm is a testament to the relationship David had with his Lord that would be difficult for a commentator or theologian to adequately describe. And that is the matter that David was a man after God’s own heart; yet in this psalm, David invites us to enter into that same relationship with our Lord; there is no formula or code here, no ten-step plan—but an abiding relationship that comes from having a heart after God.

I should note here that God uses the difficulties that come our way in life to shape our character, but most importantly, He wants us to draw close to Him. The fruit of staying near to the Shepherd, if we allow Him to do His work in us, is that we have a heart after God. This is a place of staying close to Him, of being led by God on a daily basis. Are you aware of God orchestrating your life? By faith, you can trust Him to lead you on a daily basis, for the Word of God says “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). That means we can and should be trusting Him to lead us by the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. It is a journey on the paths of righteousness, past the meadows and quiet streams of renewal through reading His Word, up through the valleys of difficulties, to the table of restoration for summer feeding, then back to winter pastures in the valley below. God should be involved in the details of our lives throughout the year. For the Christian, there is no vacation from God, but at the same time, there is no better, no safer place, than to be near to God. Do you have a thirst for God? Seek after Him, with the Bible daily in your hands, and ask the Lord to lead you. The Holy Spirit is given to believers to be our Shepherd and guide through life with all its dangers and challenges. And as we come to trust Him more and more, drawing near to Him with every challenge we face, we will find that we too have a heart after God like David did.

To order copies of PSALM 23—The Faithfulness of God, click here.

*Seasonal movement of livestock (such as sheep) between mountain and lowland pastures under the care of herders. (Webster)


David Dombrowski is the co-founder, chief editor, and acquisitions editor at Lighthouse Trails Publishing and Lighthouse Trails Research Project.

(For a complete list of Lighthouse Trails booklets, books, CDs, and DVDs, visit our website at www.lighthousetrails.com. For articles, research material, and news stories, visit www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com. You may also request a free catalog.)

 

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