LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH          September 10, 2018     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING
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“Veterans Find Healing Through Yoga,” and the Church Joins In

(photo: Veterans Doing Yoga (photo: 2-second YouTube video clip; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act: , from the US Veteran’s Health Administration)

The September 2018 issue of The American Legion magazine has a cover headline: “Warrior Pose—Veterans Find Healing Through Yoga.” The article states:

American Legion posts host yoga sessions for veterans grappling with PTSD. . . .  After leaving the Marine Corps, Jeff Drake felt alone. He lacked a community. He felt angry and hostile. Drake’s demons raged for the next dozen years before he hit rock bottom. . . .  Drake [sought] help for his post-traumatic stress disorder. In time, he found yoga—the “meds” that soothe his soul. . . . Now, Drake . . . engages in a 90- to 120-minute daily routine of breathing, prayer, mantras, and meditation. . . .  Drake . . . traveled to India last summer to better understand [yoga].

The article explains that a nonprofit organization called VEToga, founded by a Marine Corps veteran, is now currently leading classes around the country for about 10,000 students.

In the last decade and a half, Yoga has exploded worldwide. Today, Yoga classes are being offered in health, military, all levels of education (including elementary), government (political), business, religious, and arts, media, and entertainment sectors of society. More recently, Yoga has crossed into the evangelical realm where an increasing number of women (and men) in evangelical churches are now doing Yoga, either in their own churches or in their communities.

While our hearts go out to veterans who are struggling with serious physical, mental, and emotional issues, what a tragedy that many are now turning to New Age practices such as Yoga and mindfulness, and what a further tragedy that so much of the church is joining them rather than offering them the only true lasting help through the person of Jesus Christ and His Word. We are certainly for veterans becoming healthy with good nutrition and exercise, but they will not find lasting peace and joy in their lives through Yoga or meditation. Only a relationship with Christ can provide that, and who better to be an example of that than Christians? But, unfortunately, so much of today’s evangelical church has grabbed hold of powerless substitutes in exchange for the real thing . . . as the world watches on.

Jesus said, in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Our good works, according to Scripture, is that we believe on Him who died for our sins and conquered death in His resurrection. How can the world see our faith in God if we compromise it and hide that light under a load of worldly (not to mention spiritually dangerous) practices?

Related Information:

Yoga, Mindfulness Meditation Taking Place at Arlington National Cemetery to Commemorate Memorial Day

Letter to the Editor: National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Classes Offering Mindful Meditation – Many Christians Attending

Efforts Underway to Train U.S. Military Chaplains and Personnel in Eastern Mysticism

To Understand Yoga:

YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?

YOGA and Christianity – Are They Compatible?

 

 

Those Who Are Spiritually Deceived Are No Longer Able to Think for Themselves

By Kevin Reeves

History is filled with stories of those who have stood for truth, many of whom gave their lives to defend the faith God had put in their hearts. History is also filled with those who tried to squelch that truth. In his riveting account of the Nazi empire, historian William L. Shirer meticulously documents the internal workings of a system that once threatened to take over the world. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a chilling account of the effects of mind-numbing propaganda.1 The endless barrage of misinformation, incredibly, molded a once-beaten and fragmented people into the icon of elitism, which culminated in grisly death camps and the cold-blooded murder of those deemed lesser humans. A firsthand witness and opponent of the Nazi regime, Shirer recounted instances of conversation with German people, when he dared contradict the ludicrous governmental and media declarations of ethnic, cultural, and military superiority. He was met with shocked silence or an amazed stare. He noted that to question the Nazi machine’s view of anything was considered blasphemy of the highest order. It dawned on him that the minds of many of the people had become so warped that they were no longer able to think for themselves or evaluate anything by a higher standard. Shirer observed that with the rise of the new German empire, the truth had become whatever Hitler and Goebbels said it was; they were the final arbiters of reality— spiritual and otherwise.

Some may think it is extreme to compare the spiritual deception and control tactics within the church today to that of the Nazi regime and the death camps, but we should remember that the church in Germany in the 1930s was very much like the church is today—having a head in the sand mentality about spiritual deception and turning religious leaders into super-human heroes who can do no wrong. Perhaps we are not all that different than Christians in Germany back then. We should not fool ourselves and think we would never be duped like that. The apostle Paul issued a warning to Christians:

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (I Cor. 10:11,12)

Despite all of this, there is hope in the Lord; He is “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11). And He promised to preserve His church, that true body of believers whom He calls the Bride of Christ. Praise His name—there is hope. When truth is challenged, mocked, and thrown against the wind, we can be sure, it will never be altered. And that Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

The Lord is calling His people out from the midst of the false, to adhere to His truth, no matter what the cost. Let us respond with joy and thankfulness, knowing His grace is sufficient to strengthen us and give us courage.

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:13-14)

 

 

Update on Former Saddleback Youth Pastor In Child Molestation Case

Update: On September 6th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article (see below) from Patch Network out of S. California, written by reporter Ashley Ludwig, stating that Ruben (Ruven) Meulenberg, a former Saddleback Church youth worker had been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty this past summer for child molestation of two boys at Saddleback Church. We have since learned  that the Patch article was incorrect in saying that Meulenberg had been sentenced. We have spoken now with the Orange County DA’s office and were told that sentencing for Meulenberg will take place on October 5th. An August 23rd press release by the OCDA (which The Patch article based their story on) said that the maximum sentence for Meulenberg is 12 years and six months, but, again, he will not be sentenced until October 5th. Below is our September 6th posting, which includes our commentary and lead-in paragraphs to The Patch’s article. We have crossed out the sections that are based on the sentencing. We are keeping this post active because the issue of child molestation in the churches is an issue that needs to be addressed regardless of how long Ruben Meulenberg is sentenced for.

Ruben Meulenberg mug shot

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails reported on this story in 2017 in an article titled “Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg.” Our article challenged Saddleback for calling Ruben (aka: Ruven) Meulenberg a “volunteer” at Saddleback, when in fact, Meulenberg had a significant role at Saddleback as both a youth worker and media/communications worker. Meulenberg was arrested for sexual molestation, and this summer was found guilty. In August, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crimes against young boys at Saddleback.

Many sexual predators prey on churches because Christians are easy targets due to their generally trusting nature and also because of the easy access to children. Unfortunately, too many churches do not take this risk seriously, allowing their children to become victimized. Often, church leadership believes that background checks and interviews (as in the case with Meulenberg) are enough to protect kids. But other safety measures need to be put into place. Please make sure the children at your church are safe! If your pastor is willing to read a copy of the book we publish by Sergeant Patrick Crough (Seducers Among Our Children), we will send him a free copy of the book. It’s an important book to keep on the shelf for reference. At Lighthouse Trails, we care about children and have tried to alert Christians to the truth about child sexual abuse, an issue that Christians often resist in talking about and dealing with because of its sensitive nature. While Ruben Meulenberg will spend the next decade in prison, the boys he molested may suffer effects from the abuse much longer than that. Sexual abuse against children is one of the most destructive things that can be done to children. Please don’t let it happen to the kids at your church.

“Former Saddleback Youth Pastor Sentenced In Child Molestation”
By Ashley Ludwig
Patch Network

LAKE FOREST, CA — A Lake Forest junior high school youth mentor from a Saddleback Church sentenced after having been found guilty of molesting two juveniles. He will spend 12 years in prison, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Ruven Meulenberg, 33 of Lake Forest, had volunteered with Saddleback Church for more than six years, OCSD said.

Known professionally as Ruben Meulenberg, he is a well-known figure in the region’s Christian community. Meulenberg is a co-creator of a biblical video game with his twin brother and has amassed a following, according to social media.

Investigators were originally contacted regarding a call that alleged the Saddleback Church youth mentor had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old boy.

“During the course of the investigation, a second victim, another 14-year-old boy, was identified,” OCSD Lt. Lane Lagaret said at the time of the investigation. “Both victims indicated they had engaged in inappropriate conduct with the suspect for the past year while he volunteered at the church.” Click here to continue reading.

Excerpts From Seducers Among Our Children:

Protecting Your Child From Sexual Predators – With Prayer & the Word

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators

Also:

Other Resources from Lighthouse Trails Regarding Child Sexual Abuse

 

 

“Veterans Find Healing Through Yoga,” and the Church Joins In
Those Who Are Spiritually Deceived Are No Longer Able to Think for Themselves
Update on Former Saddleback Youth Pastor In Child Molestation Case

Popular Christian Magazine – RELEVANT – Tells Millennials to Practice Breath Prayers and Mindfulness Meditation

Remaining Cautious and Circumspect in a Dangerous World
A Week With Murderers in a Soviet Prison Camp
Update on Bryce Homes India – Summer 2018
Vatican News: “Pope Francis: Families An Eloquent Sign of God’s Dream”
Booklet Highlight: Mandala Color Books (in the Church): Relaxing Fun or a Tool for New Age Meditation?
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Popular Christian Magazine – RELEVANT – Tells Millennials to Practice Breath Prayers and Mindfulness Meditation

St. Anthony (one of the Desert Fathers)

A summer 2018 Relevant Magazine article titled “Why Learning to Breathe May Be the Best Way to Pray,”  tells readers that,

Breath prayer [are] an ancient Christian prayer practice with origins in the lives of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, is a vehicle we can use to live out Scripture’s call to “pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) . . .  Breath prayer offers stressed-out Christians a simple way to respond to stress by turning our attention to the presence of God and reaching out to Him for grace.

Relevant Magazine* is listed on the Lighthouse Trails “50 Top Contemplative-Promoting Organizations” and has a long history of promoting contemplative prayer. Relevant claims that,

[s]ince 2002, RELEVANT has been the leading platform reaching Christian twenty- and thirtysomethings.” In other words, their target is the millennials. . . . We reach about 2,300,000 twenty- and thirtysomething Christians a month.

If numbers like that are accurate, that means there’s a large chance your grown children or grandchildren are reading material from Relevant, and now, through this article, have been introduced to breath prayers, mindfulness, and contemplative prayer. The article continues:

Breath prayer provides Christians a simple, sustainable way to gain the benefits of mindfulness while deepening our relationship with God. The practice of breath prayer considerably overlaps with the practice of mindfulness . . .  The impact of this kind of prayer can be profound. Studies have found that contemplative prayer, of which breath prayer is one form, can help Christians manage stress, evaluate stressors differently and increase spiritual awareness. Furthermore, practicing contemplative prayer can decrease symptoms of worry, depression, anxiety and stress. Additionally, it can be an effective tool for coping with conflict, enhancing users’ mindfulness skills and offering them a greater connection and awareness of their subconscious.

As for breath prayers, this article certainly isn’t the first time major players in today’s “New” Christianity have recommended them. One of the most, if not THE most, popular and influential pastors was pushing breath prayers years ago. On pages 89 and 229 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states, “With practice, you can develop the habit of praying silent ‘breath prayers'” In an article on Warren’s pastors.com website, it exhorts: “Breath prayers are a great way to keep in contact with our Heavenly Father throughout our day. Just repeat short heart-felt prayers, such as “You are my God,” “I love you Lord,” and “Thank You, Jesus.” And also, in 2004, on the Purpose Driven website, it stated: “I started slowly to turn my worries into ‘breath prayers.'”

Author and researcher, Ray Yungen, writes about breath prayers in A Time of Departing:

When [Richard] Foster speaks of the silence, he does not mean external silence. In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster recommends the practice of breath prayer—picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. This is classic contemplative mysticism.

In the original 1978 edition of Celebration of Discipline, he makes his objective clear when he states, “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it.” In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, he ties in a quote by one mystic who advised, “You must bind the mind with one thought.” The advice recounts Anthony de Mello’s remarks in his contemplative prayer classic, Sadhana: A Way to God. His approach was virtually identical to Foster’s:

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

“I once related Foster’s breath prayer method to a former New Age devotee who is now a Christian. She affirmed this connection when she remarked with astonishment, ‘That’s what I did when I was into ashtanga yoga!” (ATOD, p.75)

In an article by the late Pastor Larry DeBruyn titled “Are “breath prayers” a method by which we can become best friends with God?,” DeBruyn states:

To direct people on a spiritual journey for 40 days, Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life. The bestselling book has impacted millions of persons. Some of Pastor Warren’s purpose involves recommendations for “Becoming Best Friends with God.” To become God’s friends, the author shares six secrets, one of which is practicing God’s presence by being in “constant conversation” with him. After quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“pray without ceasing”), Warren asks how a Christian can practice unceasing prayer to which he answers, “One way is to use ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated in one breath.” Then after providing ten examples of short biblical phrases that could work as breath prayers, Warren advises “Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart.”[1] In this context Warren also cites the book of Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, who advocated experiencing God’s presence in the most menial of circumstances by praying short conversational prayers throughout the day. The Roman Catholic practice of praying the rosary is akin to breath prayers. . . .

As the record shows, Jesus never practiced or taught breath praying. . . .  Though in Scripture Jesus has commanded us to do many things that pertain to holiness and godliness, he never commanded us to pray breath prayers. In fact, his teaching on prayer implies just the opposite, that we should not pray repeated and recitative prayers like the heathen. The Lord called Abraham “My friend” (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23), but there is no record that first, he prayed constantly, or second, used breath prayers. Yet because Abraham obeyed [and trusted] God he was a friend of God. In the same way we become God’s friends through obedience. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way.

The Relevant Magazine article promises the reader, if he or she will practice breath prayer and other contemplative prayer practices, an “inner stillness” (i.e., putting the mind in neutral – stopping all thought), relief from stress, “interior watchfulness,” “inner peace,” “purity of thought,” “a feeling of delight through one’s being,” “lightness and courage,” and “joy of life”—basically the same things that are promised if one practices Eastern-style mantra meditation. In fact, an article like this would fit very nicely in any New Age type publication because the focus is on meditation practices not on the biblical Jesus Christ who never once recommended to His followers that they practice breath prayers or other meditation techniques to get close to God.

The breath-prayer article on Relevant Magazine is just another mile marker on the church’s fast-moving highway to deception. Knowing that over two million millennials may read this article  on breath prayers, mindfulness, and contemplative prayer is an overwhelming thought. Let’s make sure we do what we can to warn any in this age group of the dangers of these practices and encourage them to put their trust in Jesus Christ and His Word. If Ray Yungen is right, that contemplative prayer is the vehicle which will bring about a time of departing from the faith, then our young people are in serious trouble, and their parents and grandparents have a responsibility to speak up.


*According to Wikipedia, Relevant Magazine is owned by Relevant Media Group, which was started by Cameron Strang, son of Charisma Magazine publisher and Strang Communications CEO Stephen Strang in June, 2001.

Related Articles:

Christianity Today Article Promotes Lectio Divina and Breath Prayers

YWAM—Wants Every YWAMer to Practice Contemplative Prayer!

Dangerous Prayers by Paul Proctor

Remaining Cautious and Circumspect in a Dangerous World

By Maria Kneas

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Recently, I had lunch at a local restaurant, and I noticed that a woman in the booth next to mine was wearing a tee-shirt that said, “Proud To Be A Hater.” I asked her what that meant, and she said she was a Cowboys fan, and therefore she hated the Redskins. Seeing that shirt shocked me. “Proud to be a hater” is the kind of thing I would expect to hear from an ISIS terrorist—not from a middle-aged American woman who chatted pleasantly with me after I asked her about her shirt.

Suppose that two men whose fathers are professional football players are serving together in Afghanistan. The father of one man plays for the Cowboys and the father of the other man plays for the Redskins. Would they hate one another? I don’t think so. They would be too busy protecting one another’s backs against a common enemy.

If the Cowboys and the Redskins played against one another in the Superbowl, would they care if their father’s team won? Of course they would. But for men who have seen fellow soldiers blown up by bombs or shot down by enemies, the Superbowl would not be foremost in their minds. The safety of their buddies would be far more important to them. When you are at war, then your perspective about things changes significantly.

According to the Bible, every Christian is in a spiritual war. Our enemies are the world system, the flesh, and the devil. Therefore, we need to be vigilant and careful about what we do because small mistakes can have large consequences.

You can see that principle even in ordinary everyday activities like driving our cars. If we make a left turn at the wrong time due to carelessness, then we will get broadsided by another vehicle. That would cost us time, money, and a lot of hassle; and it could result in life-changing injuries or even death. During war time, the degree of risk and potential damage becomes much greater.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, circumspect means “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences; prudent.” A synonym is cautious, and in defining that, the dictionary explains some differences in words related to circumspect. It says, “Cautious implies the exercise of forethought usually prompted by fear of probable or even of merely possible danger; circumspect suggests less fear and stresses the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding; wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in watching for danger and cunning in escaping it.”

We are living in a world that has rejected Christ and is going crazy. Therefore, if we want to be faithful Christians, we need to be cautious, circumspect, and wary. All of these different attributes are important if we want to protect our relationship with God and with other believers.

We need to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling. Not everything we think and feel comes from us. Sometimes it can be from the Holy Spirit, and sometimes it can be from demons.

We also need to be aware of what is influencing us and how it is influencing us. We can ask God to give us an “early warning system” that sets off red alarm lights when something is influencing us in a bad way.

Above all, we need to know the Bible for ourselves and not depend on getting information about it secondhand (from sermons and books, etc.); and we need to have a prayer life. We need to keep a solid connection between ourselves and the Lord.

When my husband Ray was alive, he and I could be in the same room, intensely focused on different things and not talking to one another. But even though we were not communicating verbally or looking at one another, we were very much aware of the presence of our “other half.” There was always a level of connection between us. And, of course, we would talk from time to time, and there were times when we were intensely focused on one another.

After Ray died, it was amazing how empty our home felt. While he was alive, if I was in one room by myself and he was somewhere else, I still didn’t feel alone. But after Ray died, the aloneness was overwhelming.

I’m in my 70s now, and I’ve been reading the Bible, thinking about what it says, and talking with the Lord for a long time. I always feel His presence, like I used to feel my husband’s presence. That connection is always there.

Some things can interfere with that. One time, I was watching one of the old Star Trek movies with my nephews, and I felt that connection go away. Well, I used to be a Trekkie when the old series first came out, so that show grabbed me in a way that most TV shows don’t. After that experience, I never watched Star Trek again, and I radically decreased all TV.

Now, I’m not saying that everybody should do that. People are all different. But we do need to be aware of what is going on and the impact that things are having on us.

For me, having that ongoing connection with the Lord is far more important than any form of entertainment. I enjoy good entertainment, but I can live without it. However, I cannot live without being in communion with the Lord. I constantly need His guidance, His comfort, and His encouragement.

If America becomes a more dangerous place, then that will become true for many more people. For example, if we could run into a terrorist at any street corner, then all of a sudden, prayer would become much more important to us. Who cares about the latest movie or football game when you don’t know whether or not you will be able to get home without having your head get cut off by some terrorist? Plus, you want to be sure that your spouse and your children made it home safely. And you want to know that your friends are all right. Under those kinds of circumstances, all at once our priorities change radically.

Quite apart from terrorists, being tuned in to God has important practical consequences. One time, I was at the base of one of those high, curved bridges where you can’t see what’s on the other side of the bridge. I was waiting for the light to tell me I could make a left-hand turn. The light changed, and I was about to make that turn. Then I had a strong feeling that I needed to freeze and stay right where I was. I didn’t “hear” anything or know that it was God communicating with me. But I had this strong feeling, and I followed it. I didn’t move. And then a truck came barreling over the bridge. Evidently, he had run the red light on the other side of the bridge.

If I had made that turn when the light told me to do it, I would have been broadsided by that truck. So even when things seem to be safe and normal, it is still good to be tuned in to the Lord as much as possible. We can just be aware of Him and receptive to any way He wants to nudge us or guide us.

With me, it’s much similar to how it was with my husband. Sometimes I focus intensely on God. I frequently chat with Him (thanking Him for His blessings, asking for His help or guidance, etc.). And I’m always aware of His presence. I never feel alone.

I’m nobody special. If God does that for me, then He can do it for anyone who will receive Him. Isaiah said, “every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus was and is the water of life, and He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who will receive Him (John 4:14).

(photo, from the cover of Strength for Tough Times)

 

 

A Week With Murderers in a Soviet Prison Camp

LTRJ Note: Georgi Vins was a Baptist pastor in the U.S.S.R. during the communist reign. He was sentenced to many years in prison for preaching the Gospel starting when he was 32 years old. Most North American Christians will never have the privilege to suffer for the Cross as Georgi did, but his story will inspire and challenge us to give our all for the sake of Christ. The following is an excerpt from Georgi Vins’ book, The Gospel in Bonds.

By Georgi Vins

We rode through the dark streets of Novosibirsk to the prison. “Home sweet home!” several of the prisoners said. “We’ll finally get a good night’s sleep before our next trip.” We were exhausted because for two days and two nights we had neither slept nor eaten in that crowded prison train. But first we had to endure another search. This one took hours.

As I was searched, I prayed, Oh, Lord, preserve my little Gospel and help me. I have no human strength left for a new battle. Again, the Gospel remained safe!
We were taken to a long, dark corridor. Both walls were lined with heavy metal doors of prison cells. A row of dim electric lights suspended from the ceiling deepened the eerie atmosphere.

“Sit down!” a guard commanded.

A hundred prisoners quietly obeyed and sat on the cold cement floor. An officer called out the prisoners’ last names. Guards escorted small groups of prisoners to their cells. An hour later, I was still sitting there. Before long, I was the only prisoner left.

At last, my name was called, and I was led down the long corridor. I had been issued an old, dirty mattress and a lumpy, filthy pillow. In one arm, I held my bedding, in the other my bag of personal belongings. I was completely exhausted. My legs felt like dead weights. My mind couldn’t accept anything more. All I could think about was lying down and sleeping, even right there on the cold cement floor.

Finally, the guard stopped, looked in the peephole of a heavy metal door, turned the key in the lock, and pushed the door open.

“Go in,” he said, motioning me inside. The door closed and locked behind me. Heavy tobacco smoke hung in layers throughout the cell. Two electric bulbs burned dimly on the ceiling. The cell was not large, built to hold sixteen men. Metal bunk beds lined the walls. In the center of the room stood a wooden table and two wooden benches. A toilet and water faucet were partially hidden behind a short wall in the corner.

Although it was after midnight, none of the prisoners were asleep. They were upset about something and had been arguing among themselves. Some stood in the center of the cell near the door. Others sat at the table. A few lay on the bunk beds. Nearly everyone stared at me with hostility. Something about the atmosphere in the cell alarmed me.

“Good evening,” I said, then corrected myself. “Good night.” I dropped my mattress and pillow on the floor. “I haven’t slept for two days. Just got off the transport train.”

I started moving toward what looked like a vacant bunk, but two prisoners blocked my way.

“Why are you entering our ‘home’ so late?” asked a tall man in a black sweater.

“I just got off the transport,” I answered.

“You were alone on a whole transport train?” a voice piped in from a bunk.

“No, there were about a hundred of us from the Irkutsk prison.”

“Where are they? Why were you brought here alone? It’s a trap!” someone shouted.

“Get out of here! Call a guard! We’ve seen people like you before!” growled the man in the black sweater. He pointed to the door.

I had no energy left to explain. “I just want to sleep,” I said, trying to make peace. “I’ve gone two days and nights without sleep.”

Several men began cursing me.

My spirit cried out to God. Oh, Jesus, be with me! I don’t even know where I am.

A skinny little old man made his way out of the crowd. “How many people have you killed?” he rasped.

“I’m a Christian. I never killed anyone. I was sentenced twice for my faith in God,” I answered.

“Where were you in prison before?”

“My first term was in the northern Urals. I just finished five years’ strict regime in Yakutia.”

“So you’re a Christian and not a murderer?” the man in the black sweater asked. “First time I’ve met anyone like you in prison. Why were you put here in this cell? All of us are murderers.” He pointed to the little old man. “And this one killed five people. We all just came from our trials and we’re going to be sent to special strict-regime camps.” He began cursing the judge and God.

“Why curse God?” I objected. “He didn’t bring you here.”

“We know your type,” he shouted, moving toward me. “Get out of here! You’re not a Christian!” He shoved me with his shoulder.

I didn’t know what to do. The hostile faces of prisoners surrounded me. In my eight years of prison life, nothing like this had ever happened. Shouts, curses, threats, and an evil that I couldn’t comprehend filled the cell.

“You say you’re a Christian?” someone shouted. “Prove it! Let’s see your Bible!” Others echoed the command.

My thoughts raced madly. Should I show them my little Gospel of Mark? What if they tear it up? No, I must show it to them. The Lord will protect His Word from these murderers just as He protected it from the soldiers on the train.

“Do you really think I could get a whole Bible into prison? It would be confiscated! But I do have the Gospel of Mark. That’s part of the Bible,” I said.

“Let’s see it!” demanded one of the young men.

I opened my bag and pulled out the box with the little Gospel. Hands stretched out from all directions to touch it. “It’s so tiny!” the prisoners marveled. Everyone wanted to see it.

“Can we read it?” asked the man in the black sweater.

“Yes, of course!” I handed it to him.

Suddenly the skinny little old man darted forward and grabbed for the little book. “Don’t touch it!” he cried. “It’s a holy book and our hands are sinful! They’re stained with human blood! Have him read it to us!”

The man in the black sweater pulled free from his grasp. His gaze shifted from the little old man to the Gospel still in his hand and then to me.

“Don’t be afraid,” I urged. “This book was written for you as well as for me. It holds the path to salvation and a new life.”

I stood, still holding my bag. Weariness overcame me. I didn’t know how much longer I could stand. A young man turned to me. “You can have my bunk tonight.” Then to the others he sneered, “Ha! Why are you attacking him like animals? The man’s been in prison for years only for his faith in God and you harass him! Sit down here.” He showed me his bunk.

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Kiev.”

“I’m from Kiev, too! I spent a month there robbing. That’s where I was arrested the last time. What camp were you in?”

“Tabaga, a strict-regime camp about fifteen miles from Yakutsk,” I answered.

Another prisoner confirmed my statement. “Oh, yes,” he said, bobbing his head up and down, “I know that camp. What other camps are in Yakutia?”
I named at least three other camps in Yakutia where I had been a prisoner. Again other prisoners confirmed my words. Still holding the Gospel, the man in the black sweater sat down at the table. The rest of the men gathered around and he began reading aloud:

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. . .

The Gospel of Mark, similar to the one Georgi Vins’ had in prison

“Let us see it! Let me hold it! I want to at least touch it! I’ve never held a Gospel in my life!” interrupted excited voices.

Just then the metal door scraped open and an officer and two soldiers entered the cell. Even before the door was completely open, the man in the black sweater had managed to hand the little book to another prisoner who hopped up to his bunk in a flash. It happened so quickly that hardly anyone in the cell noticed.

“Why aren’t you sleeping?” the officer asked. Then he looked straight at me. “How do you like your new cellmate? Is he one of you?”

Everyone was silent. The officer seemed quite disappointed. He studied my face to see if I’d been beaten. Now I understood why I’d been put in this cell. He had expected the murderers to attack me.

“Don’t believe anything he says,” the officer said, pointing his finger at me as he left.

After the officer was gone, the man in the black sweater retrieved the Gospel. I went over to a bunk, knelt, and poured out my thanksgiving to God.

“Look! He’s praying!” whispered some of the prisoners in amazement. “Let him pray. It’s his business,” said others.

Complete peace filled my heart. Later I learned that the KGB had indeed instructed the prison administrators to put me in that specific cell. Some of the prisoners had been told lies about me in advance and were incited to attack me. I’m sure the KGB concealed the fact that I was a Christian. But with that little Gospel of Mark, God had, in an amazing way, upset the cunning schemes of His enemies. I felt completely secure, protected by God Himself.

When I awoke the next morning I didn’t remember where I was. Then I opened my eyes and saw the other prisoners sitting around the table, listening intently as one of them read from the Gospel. Already the morning sun penetrated the double-barred window of the cell as a fresh breeze blew through a small open pane. I lay quietly, listening to the Word of God. Soon the closing verse of Mark 16 was read. I got up and walked to the table, and the man in the black sweater handed me the Gospel. Everyone was silent.

“It’s a powerful book,” he said simply.

The little old man turned to me. “I’ve killed five people,” he said. “Can God forgive me?”

The man in the black sweater looked at me closely. “How can I find salvation? All night we were reading the Gospel and discussing this. There was no one to ask and we didn’t want to wake you. I’m also a murderer, a murderer and a thief. That’s what the Gospel said. How can we get this salvation?”

“If you repent before God and trust in Jesus Christ, then you, too, will receive salvation,” I told the man in the black sweater. “And God will help you turn from your wicked, criminal life.”

The little old man’s voice trembled with fear and excitement. “But I’ve killed five men. This isn’t even the first time I’ve been caught. I was in prison before, you know. They wanted to execute me but changed my sentence to fifteen years’ special strict regime. Do you think God can forgive even me?” he asked.

I looked at the puny man with the squeaky voice. How odd that such a feeble person could find strength to kill five people. “Yes, God can forgive you,” I said. “Jesus Christ forgave the criminal on the cross next to Him. He took everyone’s sins upon Himself, even the most horrible sins, and died on the Cross for all men because God loves us. Even though I never killed anyone or stole anything, I am a sinner, too, a sinner forgiven by Jesus Christ and saved.” And I recited the familiar verse of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”

“Have any of you ever read the Bible before or heard a sermon about Jesus Christ?” I asked.

They shook their heads. Never before in their lives had any of these men read the Gospel or heard a sermon. Seeing this, I was again amazed that after reading it just one night, they understood the Gospel’s main message—salvation! Usually prisoners are proud of their criminal exploits. They don’t even use the words “kill” or “murder.” They say, “Well, I got him wet” (meaning wet with blood), or “wasted him,” or “squeezed him.” And when they talk about it, their victim was invariably the guilty one who got what he deserved. But after reading the Gospel, these men understood that they were the guilty ones, they were the criminals, they were the sinners, having sinned not only against man but, more importantly, against God.

I spent a week in that cell. The men asked hundreds of questions. Every day we talked about God. I explained how Jesus died on the Cross—not for His wrongdoing but to pay the penalty—serve the sentence—for our sins, our crimes. If we believe that He died in our place, He offers us a new life, a fresh start, doing what pleases God. He gives us hope for the future and strength to make it through each day.

The men listened tirelessly. It was hard to believe that these same men had been so hostile toward me that first, tense night. I rejoiced at what God was doing in their hearts. But I knew that it was only the beginning. I can’t say that all of them repented and became Christians right there, but I saw their desire to learn about God.

My “neighbor” from Kiev, whose name was Petro, stayed by my side for hours at a time. He had spent his whole life engaged in various criminal activities. Petro was fascinated by everything I had to say and asked many questions. He simply couldn’t understand why the authorities were so cruel to Christians.

“You are a believer,” he’d say. “Why do they put you in prison? You can help people!”

One day the cell door opened and a guard called out my name. “Gather your things and get ready to move,” he said.

He left, giving me ten minutes to prepare for the journey. I looked at my cellmates. One of them hurried over to me and held out my tiny Gospel of Mark. “It was absolutely amazing that we could read it here in prison,” he said. “Thank you.”

Petro looked at me longingly as I hid the little book in my bag. “Oh, Georgi,” he cried, “give us that Gospel! You already know the story. You’ve read it many times but we just started reading it. We’ve all got fifteen years to go through. And some of us,” he glanced at the little old man, “will probably die in camp. We really need that holy book. Please leave it with us!”

What should I do? I wondered. This little book is so precious to me! I’ve had it so many years in prisons and camps. The Lord preserved it through many searches, even on the train when the soldiers found it and wanted me to rip it up. This little book actually saved my life in this cell. I still have five years of exile. Oh, I don’t want to give it up!

“Your God will give you many Gospels,” added the man in the black sweater. “Where will we get another one? Leave it with us. It’s the only truth I’ve found in my whole life.”

I handed it back to the man in the black sweater.

“Get moving! Let’s get out of here!” the guard shouted impatiently through the door.

I grabbed my bag. Someone quickly shook my hand as we parted. “Farewell, Georgi! Pray for us!”

The guard took me to the transit cell. I was so impressed by my week in the cell with the murderers that I nearly forgot about being exiled to Tyumen. With my own eyes, I saw how special God’s Word became to those prisoners in such a short time. I’ll never forget them. I left behind with them not only my tiny Gospel of Mark, but also part of my heart.

(An excerpt from Georgi Vins’ book, The Gospel in Bonds)

 

Update on Bryce Homes India – Summer 2018

The following is an update from the Bryce Homes in India overseer, Pastor Wilson. Bryce Homes is an international missions program founded by Understand the Times (Roger Oakland’s ministry). There are currently Bryce Homes in several different countries. In each Bryce Home country, local pastors oversee the Bryce Homes (which are comprised of Christian widows and their children and foster parents and orphans). To learn more about the Bryce Homes program, visit UTT’s website. Lighthouse Trails readers have been financially and prayerfully supporting Bryce Homes since 2011.

Summer 2018 Update From Bryce Homes in India

Dear Pastor Tom and Brother Roger and all the supporters of Bryce Homes. Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ from all the children, foster parents and from me and my wife.

The following is a report from Guntar, India for the month of June, July and August.

“Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise you. Thus I will bless you while I live; I will lift up my hands in your name. Psalm 63:3-4.”

Some of the Bryce Home children in India

Praise points:

One: Praise to the Lord for His providence regarding all children’s education.

Two Pairs of Uniforms (each child 2000 Rs) = 24000-00

Each School bag worth (each child 600 Rs) = 7200- 00.

Text books, note books for one year (each child 7000- 00) = 84000-00

1st quarterly school fee (for each child 4500-00) = 54000-00.

Total amount is = 169200-00 Rupees.

We are able to do this with the help of Bryce Home supporters, the local church, foster parents and friends. It took us three months of time to raise the local funds for schooling. Thank God for His providence.

Two: God has blessed all the children with good health in hot summer weather. We were worried about their health as heat waves started but Lord blessed them with good health. Even though there are some health issues with children we continue medication and the sufficient grace of God is with all of us.

Three: We can witness the strong bond between the children and foster parents. This is very rare in this part of the world. Children are calling them Mummy and Daddy and the parents also are so much attached with children that I am grateful for God’s amazing work in the hearts of children and parents.

Fourth: Children are growing spiritually. They are attending regular church along with parents and attending Sunday school. Me and my wife are continually teaching and helping each child spiritually. They are memorizing scriptures and reading Bibles regularly. Click here to continue reading.

Vatican News: “Pope Francis: Families An Eloquent Sign of God’s Dream”

Pope Francis in Vatican City (photo: bigstockphoto; used with permission)

LTRP Note: Recently, we released a booklet/article by Warren B. Smith titled God’s Dream: Satan’s Ultimate Scheme. If you did not have a chance to read it yet, we urge you to do so soon. The news story below (released this week by Vatican News) is yet another example of how the world’s religious leaders are seeking to bring about “God’s Dream” into the world. When you begin to understand what “God’s Dream” is really all about (i.e., God’s dream for man to realize his divinity and oneness), you will see the urgency in this. This term is showing up more and more in evangelical circles as Warren Smith points out. Just last week, yet another instance where we learned of an evangelical mega-church pastor using the term: Pastor Doug Sauder, the lead pastor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (the former church of Bob Coy), wrote a sub-section in his book The One Factor: How One Changes Everything titled “God’s Dream.” And there are many other evangelicals pastors, authors, and leaders now using the term, whether they understand the full implication or not. As you can surmise from the following quote by New Ager Neale Donald Walsch, there will be no place for the Cross in “God’s Dream” because man will believe that he himself is God. As Walsch also said (and many now believe), “the era of the single savior is over.”1

God’s “dream,” if you please, is that we will all one day be completely realized [as “God”].2—Neale Donald Walsch

By Christopher Wells
Vatican News

Pope Francis dedicated his Wednesday General Audience to a reflection on his Apostolic Visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. “My presence” in Ireland, he said, “was intended above all to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission.”

God’s dream for the family

He said the thousands of families that took part “were an eloquent sign of the beauty of God’s dream for the whole human family.” That dream, he continued, “is unity, harmony, and peace in families and in the world”; and he said that God is calling on families “to participate in this dream, and to make the world a home where no one is alone, no one is unwanted, no one is excluded.” Click here to continue reading.

 

Booklet Highlight: Mandala Color Books (in the Church): Relaxing Fun or a Tool for New Age Meditation?

mandala color booksBy Lois Putnam

Adult coloring has recently become a national passion. In fact, of the top twenty best-selling books on Amazon.com, ten of these were adult color books. Proof of this can be found in any bookstore where the first thing you’ll see upon entering is shelves brimming with every kind of color book imaginable. And congregated around these shelves you’ll find enthusiastic colorists who’ll be eager to share how enjoyable this current fad can be. Like many others, it may not be long until you’ll be picking up a book or two just to try it out.

Now, from your first examination of these color books, you’ll note they aren’t like the color books of your youth, for at least half of them are distinctly New Age in look and content. And second, you’ll note that they almost all purport to help calm, soothe, de-stress, and relax you into a meditative state. Finally, you’ll soon discover some of these intriguing books have tantalizing patterns called “mandalas” that will entice you to look at them over and over. These mesmerizing “sacred circles” are designed to visually take you to their centers to discover “Your Higher Self.” And yes, they are deceptive, and no, they aren’t Christian!

So be aware that there are many seductive “spiritual” color books out there both for adults and children alike. Thus, if you should decide to try out some coloring or are planning to buy one for someone else, you would do well to heed the admonition in Psalm 101:3 that states: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” And because “mandalas” do have a hidden agenda, this booklet is written to inform colorists and non-colorists exactly what they are, and what their purpose is.


SIDE BAR
Adult Coloring Books—A Spiritual Practice?

While there is certainly nothing harmful about adults coloring, in and of itself, much of the contemplative spirituality connection has been propagated by Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color book series. On MacBeth’s website, she gives 8 reasons to color while praying:

1) You want to pray but words escape you.
2) Sitting still and staying focused in prayer are a challenge.
3) Your body wants to be part of your prayer.
4) You want to just hang out with God but don’t know how.
5) Listening to God feels like an impossible task.
6) Your mind wanders and your body complains.
7) You want a visual, concrete way to pray.
8) You need a new way to pray.

Sybil MacBeth’s book, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, is endorsed on the back cover by emergent writer Phyllis Tickle (who once said Brian McLaren could be the next Luther). In MacBeth’s book, she speaks frequently about lectio divina, a meditative practice used in contemplative prayer. With Tickle’s endorsement and the promotion of contemplative practices, we must question what MacBeth’s “new path” to God is. A look at the endnotes in the book may provide an answer to that question. She cites Thomas Merton (panentheistic contemplative Catholic monk), Parker Palmer (New Age sympathizer), and Tony Jones (contemplative emergent leader).

In a 2015 Religious News Service article titled “Coloring Books for Grown-ups: Calming—but a Spiritual Practice?,” it states:

Alison Gary used to go to church on Sunday mornings, but lately she’s embraced a different ritual: staying home and coloring with her 6-year-old daughter, Emerson. . . . “Emerson and I color almost every Sunday morning,” Gary said, while her husband, a yoga teacher, cooks and listens to music. “I let my mind let go, and I feel more connected to the world, more centered.” . . . Gary is not the only grown-up rediscovering the contemplative joys of what once was considered a childish pastime. . . . Many books feature circular mandalas and Zen patterns, as well as mystical peacocks. . . . While adult coloring is mostly being marketed as a balm for the stress of modern life, many fans, like Gary, also describe it in spiritual terms.

Which raises the obvious question: Can coloring seriously be considered a spiritual practice? Some may scoff, but “it can become more than just coloring, if you want it to,” said Sybil MacBeth, author of the 2007 book Praying in Color. . . . MacBeth shares techniques to “incorporate the intention of prayer into coloring,” by doodling names of people or events, and intercessory requests such as healing and peace. MacBeth, a “dancer, doodler and former community college math professor” married to a retired Episcopal priest, believes coloring and doodling can be powerful prayer practices—a revelation she stumbled upon by accident.1

END SIDEBAR


Sacred Circle Mandalas: Conduits to Meditation
Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit—a sacred circle or container that uses alluring symbols, dazzling colors, and mystical patterns. Alberta Hutchinson, in the Mystical Mandala Color Book, defines mandalas this way: “symmetrical geometric designs which are traditionally used for meditative purposes by drawing our eye to the center of the circle.” Little Mandalas color book calls them “mystical motifs which symbolize the universe, wholeness, and eternity.” And a kids’ color book, My First Mandalas by Anna Pomaska maintains mandalas are a Far Eastern tradition with “intriguing centers and fascinating focal points.” In summary, “Mandala” from Religionfacts.com says:

Simply stated, a mandala is a sacred geometric figure that represents the universe. When completed a mandala becomes a sacred area that serves as a receptacle for deities and a collection point of universal forces. By mentally entering a mandala and proceeding to its center, a person is symbolically guided through the cosmos to the essence of reality.2

Mandalas are a visual tool to take one into a meditative state just as mantras are a vocal tool to lead one into emptying one’s mind. Labyrinths are used in much the same manner. As one repeatedly gazes, contemplates, looks upon, stares at the mandala while following its hypnotic patterns, it can have the effect of relaxing the person into an altered state or even a trance.

Speaking of a “meditative state,” on December 12, 2015 the Orlando Sentinel had this front-page article: “Adults Find Meditative State Coloring Away Stresses of Life” by Bethany Rogers. The accompanying photo showed grandmotherly types coloring Color Me Calm pages at the Minneola Schoolhouse Library. This was but one of four “Color Me Calm” sessions where ladies gathered, sipping tea, coloring, and listening to a flute tune titled “Morning Stillness.”3

Shakti Color Book’s Goddesses and Mandalas
A look at Ekabhumi C. Ellik’s color book should be an awakening to any who are considering mandala coloring. The cover depicts Bhuvaneshvari, the goddess of spaciousness, regent of manifest creation, and universal earth mother.

On the book’s Facebook page, you’ll see pictures from the book colored by people who post them to the site.

One very disturbing post shows a child posing as a goddess while her mom tells how obsessed with the goddesses her child was. Ellik’s reply to this mother was, “I’m so happy to contribute to helping girls recognize their inner divinity.” A comment below reads, “Beautiful little goddess, keep that feeling.” Another post photo shows a young girl proudly holding up a goddess in a mandala she’d colored.4

YogaDork’s article: “Grab Your Crayon’s and Say Om: Coloring Art as a Meditative Practice” has an excerpt from Ellik’s book. In it, Ellik speaks of the goddesses depicted in the book by saying:

The goddesses who appear in the The Shakti Color Book encompass the entire spectrum of cosmic phenomena, mirroring our most expansive Self. . . . Their mystic diagrams—their mandalas and yantras —have a powerful influence on our awareness when we mediate upon them and visualize them internally. Our energy body is repatterned . . . helping us to recognize behaviors that our of alignment with our most expansive nature, which is the Goddess herself.5

Ellik has also begun a “Shiva Color Book.” And Ellik asks readers: “What images, forms of Shiva, related deities, mandalas or yantras should be included?” Ellik also invites all to join him at an “Embrace Your Shakti: A Yoga Coloring Workshop” where they can begin their New Year with some goddess power.

In an August 2015 comment, Ellik sums up the purpose of his color book when he says:

It’s an opportunity to introduce sacred art as an intrinsic part of YOGIC practice to a HUGE number of people who may think it’s only stretching and feeling calm.

He also notes, “. . . to have readers introduced to this book is a great way to help shift public opinion away from yoga-is-exercise-to-look-and-feel-good and back toward, well, YOGA.” Ellik gives us a truth many undiscerning Christians are not acknowledging about Yoga and mandalas! Think about it!

Mandalas for Adults
It’s clear that coloring pre-printed pages is a pastime many adults enjoy. Whether one finds it relaxing or not is up to the individual. Yet the main thrust of marketing color books to adults seems to be the promise to bring calmness or alleviate stress. The claims made by the designers of mandala color books, however, go far beyond this and straight into the realm of New Age religious practices, as you will see from these few examples—

Steven Vrancken in “Your Introduction of the Healing Powers of Mandala Color Pages” spells out the powers behind the mandala in this quote that says:

I awaken to the power of the mandala, A sacred circle of light and energy, A pathway to center—to my center and to the Universal All, A channel for healing body, mind, and spirit.6

Presbyterian Jungian psychotherapist and art therapist Susanne F. Fincher is the founder of Creatingmandalas.com. According to Fincher’s website, she has led thousands of people to the “spiritual, psychological, and health enhancing dimensions of creating mandalas.” Author of four Coloring Mandalas books by Shambhala Publishing, Fincher’s book, Coloring Mandalas 3: Circles of the Sacred Feminine is completely pagan beginning with “Prayer to the Earth Mother.” Inside notes tell the colorist to consider these sacred images holy and to set aside a sacred space to work on them. Doing this will allow one’s “harmonious designs” to kick in just as repeating ancient chants will resonate within one in calming and revitalizing ways. An introductory description of the book explains:

Coloring the circular designs . . . is a relaxing, meditative activity enjoyed by adults and children alike. . . . The mandalas in this book are . . . designed to provide a creative encounter with the Divine as a feminine presence.7

The Mandala Lady, Maureen Frank, is a mandala artist and intuitive reader, who does channeled visualization “Mandala Reading Sessions” for customers via Skype or telephone. Maureen relates that during a Reiki session she was told she wasn’t into the creative side of her brain and she should get herself a color book. Maureen did. Later, at a New Age bookstore, she came upon mandalas. First, she colored them, but soon she began to create them and then meditate on them. Soon she had “mandala messages” for others. Now, she creates daily, week, monthly, and yearly mandalas as well as a whole line of “color your own” cards, prints, and color books.8

Mandalas for Kids of All Ages
Mandala coloring books can be purchased by unsuspecting parents and given to children with the admonishment to “play quietly for a while.” This is understandable. But Christian parents should be aware that schools, children’s clubs, libraries, and various websites will be luring their young ones to use mandala art in ways that can introduce them to Eastern meditation and the occult.

For example, the “Do You Yoga” website tells kids their whole body is a “mandala” with its center being their “belly button.” Kids, in a “child’s pose,” color mandalas with quiet background music. The site advises when a mandala is finished, hang it up and use it for meditation. It suggests one breathe deeply, gaze at the center of the mandala, and let thoughts and emotions come without following them. Then, “slowly dive deeper into the center of the mandala and into the harmony and love it represents.” And Do You Yoga says kids from five and up can participate.9

Everyday Mandala for Children is a series of activity books designed for ages four and up based on “The Shichida Method” that uses mandalas with youngsters that requires them to mentally capture the image of a mandala within seconds, and apply the colors onto an uncolored mandala. The method boasts even a child of two can do it. Its method includes holding a mandala against a plain wall, asking a child to stare at the mandala focusing on its center, and then visualizing it in their mind. Children are told to hold that image there as long as possible. One article suggests you, as an adult, should join in.10

An article from the Kids Growing Up Psychic series by psychic Melissa Leath details how she uses “active meditation” or anything that keeps kids focused and calm while making mandalas. Afterward, kids softly stare at their mandala while trying not to blink. As they breathe in and out, Leath explains, “a shift” comes while colors in the mandala seem to change and move. At this point, says Leath, kids will feel energy flowing from the mandala. They are then to close their eyes to see an inner vision, and to feel more energy. And so Leath a medium, mentor, and author leads kids into her psychic world.11

There are many many children’s mandala materials available to the public; the bottom line is that the mandala coloring craze is not just an adult coloring book problem, it is being marketed to children and teens. Be watchful! Teach your children what these seducing circles really are about!

Mandalas for the Church?
Baptist Global News assistant editor Jeff Brumley wrote a piece: “Adult Coloring Books Emerging as Popular Spiritual Practice.” How so? Brumley says, “Using crayons . . . to focus the mind while praying or to contemplate Scripture can be as beneficial as walking a prayer labyrinth or creating an icon, say ministers of spiritual formation.” Brumley goes on to say that Blake Burleson, his co-editor and senior lecturer in religion at Baylor University, teaches that praying while coloring puts the mind on hold while elevating the role of the heart in prayer. Burleson also states, “Every religion uses art to express itself—whether it’s an icon, a mandala, calligraphy, or a cave painting.”12 Maybe, Burleson should turn to Ezekiel 8 to see what the Lord had to say about idolatrous wall art in the temple!

Rev. Sharon Garner, a United Methodist pastor and Ignatian Spiritual Director, conducts “Praying Mandala Sessions” at a Jesuit Retreat House as well as at a United Church of Christ location. To further her mandala cause, she’s written Praying with Mandalas: Contemplative Coloring for Contemporary Christians. The mandala is used here as a “tool” to practice contemplative prayer and enter a contemplative state!13

In “Coloring IS a Spiritual Practice,” the Rev. Dr. L. Roger Owens contends during his Spiritual Formation retreats he’d notice a few people “will be bent over their desks with intricate mandalas in front of them . . . listening to me . . .” as they color. Now does Owens feel these “poor souls” are being duped by falling for this new color fad? Does Owens feel they should be “engaging in a real spiritual practice like praying or reading Scripture?” “No,” says Rev. Dr. Owens, “I give thanks that they are discovering a way of prayer their churches never taught them, but that is helping them listen to God and be present to others. And when,” says Owens, “I enter Barnes and Noble . . . I only hope that more Christians might discover this practice and deepen their lives with God.” Then Owens, after thinking of the biblical Martha’s distractibility reflected: “Do you know what Martha needs? A color book.” A coloring book, avows Owens, is just a form of “mindfulness practice.” However, mindfulness is a practice based on Zen Buddhism.14

Color Me Discerning, or Color Me Deceived: Which Will It Be?
We’re in the midst of a meditation invasion via color books—and specifically through mandala color books as I’ve shown in this booklet. My question is if you’ve already bought into this color-book craze under the guise of finding relaxation and calm, will you continue as a deceived colorist, or will you become a discerning one? Will you understand that although coloring is not evil in and of itself, if it leads one into idolatrous sacred circles or other images then one must be very careful not to get entangled in this color-book web. May we remember the Lord’s warning in the Old Testament: “Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Ezekiel 14:6).

And may we strive to become discerning, rather than deceived.

Mandala circles will not give one true rest, or peace, or hope, for this can only be found through the Lord Jesus who said, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). May our desire be to do as the old hymn admonishes: “Turn your eyes unto Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. (Psalm 119:37)

To order copies of Mandala Color Books: Relaxing Fun or a Tool for New Age Meditation?, click here.

Endnotes
1. http://www.religionnews.com/2015/09/08/coloring-books-for-grown-ups-calming-spiritual-practice.
2. http://www.relgionfacts.com/mandala.
3. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2015/12/13/adult-coloring-books-stress/76916842.
4. http://www.facebook.com/shakticoloringbook.
5. http://yogadork.com/?s=grab+your+crayons.
6. https://mandalacoloringmeditation.com/mandala-coloring/mandala-articles/about-mandala-coloring-healing.
7. http://creatingmandalas.com/susanne-f-fincher.
8. http://themandalalady.com/bio.
9. http://www.doyouyoga.com/mandala-coloring-meditation-for-kids-96460.
10. http://www.homeeducation.sg.
11. http://shaheenmiroinsights.com/2015/03/30/active-meditation-for-kids-creating-your-own-mandala-by-melissa-leath.
12. https://baptistnews.com/culture/item/30471-adult-coloring-books-emerging-as-popular-spiritual-practice.
13. http://www.bellyofthewhaleministries.net/directors-welcome.
14. http://www.pts.edu/blog/coloring-books-spiritual-practice.

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