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Letter to the Editor: Concerned About “Neighborly Faith”—a “Third Way” to Befriend Muslims

LTRJ Note: As we were preparing to post this letter to the editor that came to us recently, we came across Christian radio host Janet Mefferd’s Twitter comments about Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear’s involvement with a “Neighborly Faith” event on March 5th titled “Hope in the Current Age: A Conversation on Christianity and Islam.” Mefferd stated, “Before Greear’s interfaith dialogue, 64% of Christian attendees felt “positive” about Islam. After, 76% of Christians “said their attitude toward Islam was more positive than before!” Way to go, SBC. Is this what it means to be “missional?” Mefferd asks the question, “Southern Baptist pastors and laymen: Is it OK w/you that all these SBC leaders are pushing Christian-Muslim ‘interfaith dialogue?’ Is this why you are part of the SBC?”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Could you please check this out? I am stunned by what I have heard and read about this new group of people called: Neighborly Faith.

Neighborly Faith urges evangelicals to find a :”third way” to befriend Muslims:

 

There are many evangelical Christians getting involved with this, and it is scary when you realize how far this movement has come in a very short period of time.

I just haven’t seen Lighthouse Trails say anything on this movement, and it is really moving quickly into so-called Christian colleges and other places as well.

I see absolutely nothing good coming from this movement, and believe me it is not going to go away either. It’s the speed of the movement and what this group is saying we as Christians should be doing that put a cold chill down my back.

Thank you for reading my e-mail, and I hope you will check this out.

My concern is that the Lord says we are not to go after other gods, and the Islamics/Muslims do not have the same God as we do. Many Christians, from what I’ve read, are being told and are believing that we do indeed share the same God. I know we do not, and I know you know that too.

M.J.

Related Articles:

“One World Religion: Pope Francis Signs Historic Covenant With Islam”

The Call for Unity at the Price of Truth

Letter to the Editor: Pope Francis to Launch 2020 “Global Educational Alliance” for a “New Humanism” and “New Universal Solidarity”

“Father of Trans-identified Teen, Christian Broadcaster Facing Charges for Defying Court”

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes. Lighthouse Trails has been following and reporting on this story related to parental rights (or the lack of them) in Canada and the transgenderism of under-age children. On February 14, 2020, we posted “Father Ignores Publication Ban by Psychotic Judge—Ends Silence on Daughter’s ‘Transitioning'”

By Brandon Showalter
The Christian Post

An independent Christian journalist and the father of a trans-identifying teen girl are facing charges for speaking out against the experimental practices being performed on her body to gender-transition her to appear as male.

The British Columbia dad, who is called “CD” in court documents and has been battling in court in an attempt to stop a hormonal gender transition of his daughter, along with broadcaster Laura Lynn Thompson could be charged with criminal contempt of court, Life Site News reported.

The father is legally forbidden from speaking to media about the case but did so anyway. Thompson may face charges because she posted a video of an interview she did with the father last month. 

She initially refused to take it down but eventually did remove the video. The footage is viewable on some sites within Canada and around the world as the case has garnered international attention. Click here to continue reading.

(Photo: Rob Hoogland, the father of the “trans-identified teen” (photo from The Federalist from 2012) You may help with Mr. Hoogland’s legal expenses here.)

Related Information:

PARENTS COULD FACE JAIL – THE ASSAULT ON PARENTAL RIGHTS WITH DAN DICKS PRESS FOR TRUTH

BREAKING FROM CANADA: “Father Ignores Publication Ban by Psychotic Judge—Ends Silence on Daughter’s ‘Transitioning’”

COVID-19 Coronavirus—A Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary by Eric Barger

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THE GOOD NEWS:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

“If God be for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:28, 31

THE WAKE UP

Last night I went to the store. That statement is not a Facebook post as, sadly, that’s about as deep as many posts on social media get these days. No, last evening’s trip, which included stops at three large stores, is worthy of note only because so many shelves were bare. Unusual and troubling, I was experiencing one of those moments that I had only imagined many times before.

We here in the United States and Canada take for granted our ability to go to the store 24/7/365. We expect to find the shelves fully stocked whenever we decide to shop for whatever our hearts desire. Seeing what I did just a few hours ago was indeed unnerving but not surprising. It was a harbinger of things to come and similar to what I remember about shopping in a third world country. However, I was not in some far away banana republic; it was right here, nearly walking distance from home. Just as what store shelves look like near the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf Coast when a hurricane is approaching from the sea, just three cases of water remained for sale in a huge Walmart superstore I visited. Residents from around the country are reporting the same barrenness on store shelves. Especially in demand (but out of stock) were items such as hand sanitizers, anti-bacterial wipes and soaps, surgical gloves, and masks. Now, for the first time in many years, we are watching as simple supply and demand spotlights a glaring weakness that is affecting many people. That is, that the 18-wheel transports that bring us supplies each day can’t deliver to the local stores what is actually not available. Click here to continue reading.

 

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor: Concerned About “Neighborly Faith”—a “Third Way” to Befriend Muslims
“Father of Trans-identified Teen, Christian Broadcaster Facing Charges for Defying Court”
COVID-19 Coronavirus—A Guest Commentary

Emergent Manifesto of Hope Despair Revisited—How It Has Affected Today’s Church

Letter to the Editor: “Critical Race Theory”—A Political Tactic That Results in Cultural/Marxist Segregation
Boy Scouts of America File for Bankruptcy Amid Sexual Abuse, Homosexual, and Transgender Allowances
Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day
Letter to the Editor: Please Further Explain “Cultural Marxism” and “Critical Race Theory”
The American Legion Gives Big Push for Veterans to Practice Transcendental Meditation
Lilly Endowment’s Contemplative-Focused Clergy Renewal Program Updated Lists
Lent and Contemplative – A Likely Match
Ironside: A Missed Train for a Divine Appointment
The Goal of Contemplatives: Changing the Consciousness of Humanity – One Contemplative Prayer After the Next
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Emergent Manifesto of Hope Despair Revisited—How It Has Affected Today’s Church
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In 2007, Lighthouse Trails wrote a book review on a book titled Emergent Manifesto of Hope. Today, thirteen years later, we are seeing the “fruit” of the emergent church (that, incidentally, was spawned by leaders like Rick Warren, Bob Buford, and Bill Hybels as is documented in Faith Undone by Roger Oakland). The so-called fruit of this well-planned, well-financed emergent manifesto has ripened within the church exalting corrupt and anti-biblical ideologies such as a social justice-gospel, spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality), interspirituality, homosexual and transgender lifestyle acceptance, communistic socialism, evolution, convoluted eschatology (which rejects Bible prophecy and Christ’s return), panentheism, and more recently, as seen in the SBC, critical race theory—all of which are anything but a theology of hope. On the contrary, this emergent manifesto has created despair, confusion, and an exit from biblical faith by countless young people.

At the Lighthouse Trails office, we hear from so many anguished parents and grandparents who are trying to figure out why their now-grown children and grandchildren have turned away from the biblical faith of their youth to an unrecognizable belief system. We are convinced that many many of these young people were drawn into an emergent view via Christian colleges, youth groups, mission societies, books, and organizations. Below is a repost of our 2007 article, which describes this manifesto of doubt over faith.

Emergent Manifesto: Emerging Church Coming Out of the Closet”

Emergent Manifesto of Hope is the new release from Emersion, a publishing partnership between Baker Books and Emergent Village. The book, edited and compiled by emergent leaders Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, is a collection of essays by various emerging church leaders. Pagitt says the book “provides a rare glimpse inside the emerging church.” This “rare glimpse” actually lays out the agenda of the movement, and in essence Emergent Manifesto is the emerging church’s coming out of the closet tribute.

The back cover of Emergent Manifesto describes it as a “front-row” look at this “influential international movement” and promises readers that they will come away with “a deeper understanding of the hopeful imagination that drives the emerging church.” Readers are also told that they will “appreciate the beauty of a conversation that is continually being formed.” However, the book fails to deliver any “beauty.”

A more accurate title for this book would be Emergent Manifesto of False Hope, and a subtitle (albeit a lengthy one) that would describe it perfectly would go something like this:

The Kingdom of God is already here on earth, includes all people, all faiths, and in fact is in all people and all of creation and can be felt or realized through mysticism which connects everything together as ONE.

This new collective spirituality leads people into a socialistic community where rituals, practices, and social justice become a means of salvation, but not the salvation you think of in a personal sense of being born-again through Jesus Christ. This is a collective salvation 1 that includes whole cultures and communities who follow the way of someone referred to as Jesus.

Tony Jones lays the ground work for the book by referring to the “highest good” (for humanity) and explains that when Emergent began (in 1998) the group was “engaging in some sort of ‘socially established cooperative human activity’”(p. 14). “Cooperative” is a theme that runs through the book. Doug Pagitt says Emergent is a “call to friendship … with the world” and this “friendship” is a “dangerous leap” in which many ways have been created to connect (p. 19). Throughout the book, these ways to connect become quite obvious. While often called other terms in the book, the concepts behind them are interspirituality (all religions coming together), panentheism (God is in all creation), universalism (all are saved), and mysticism (the means by which this connecting takes place).

In this “sense of interconnection,” the book states:

[R]enewed popularity of the “kingdom” language is related to the emerging global narrative of the deep ecology movement – a consciousness and awareness that everything matters and is somehow interdependent (p. 27).

Emergent leader (and New Age sympathizer), Leonard Sweet (in his book Quantum Spirituality) calls this the Theory of Everything. This theory not only says that all creation is connected but that it is all inhabited with Divinity (God).

The Manifesto describes “themes” of “integrative theology” as: Interest in monastic practices, contemplative and bodily spiritual formation disciplines, celebrating earth, humanity, cultures, and the sensuous (p. 28). In a chapter titled “Meeting Jesus at Bars” the Manifesto favorably includes visiting monasteries, practicing yoga, engaging in silent retreats, and chanting with monks (p. 38). One writer in the book has this to say:

I am a Christian today because of a Hindu meditation master. She taught me some things that Christians had not. She taught me to meditate, to sit in silence and openness in the presence of God…. I believe that all people are children of God. (p.45)

While the book does list praying and reading Scripture as one of the practices to engage in, it offers a disclaimer that this is not what is most spiritually nourishing but rather “our relationship with others give us the most insight into who God is and where God is leading us” (p. 38). And this is really the essence of the book. Harmless, some may say. No, anything but. The Emergent Manifesto belittles personal, one-on-one relationship with the Lord and insists it is a collective salvation that really matters. The goal of this cooperative movement is to participate in “the healing of our world” and to “collaborate with our Maker in the fulfillment of God’s reign on Earth” (p. 30).

The Manifesto makes clear that followers of this new, collective religion should not be concerned about saving “people from the jaws of hell,” but should rather be “motivated … to be in relationship with people who in many ways are different” (p. 35). The focus should not be on conversion as much as “cultivation of relationships.” The lofty language used in the Manifesto, reminiscent of legal or medical language, makes the writers seem highly intellectual but the reading difficult to comprehend. However, while the language in the book is often obscure and metaphorical, the ideologies are evident. To describe interspirituality, the book says:

If the Emergent conversation is to have a “next chapter,” it will need to learn from other sketches outside of Western Christendom (p. 68). [Translation: incorporate the belief systems of other religions.]

Or this one:

[T]he environment that Emergent seeks to create – a studio for sketching, a place of freedom and divergence … [Emergent Village] is more committed to equipping any and all for the process of emergence (p. 70).

Manifesto talks significantly about those who refuse to change and bend with this “process of emergence.” Pagitt states:

While immovability may be a fine role for religion, it may not serve the story of God’s action in the world very well … I don’t think it is possible to tell the story of faith from the posture of sameness and stability …. Ours is a story of the expanding life of God generating new creation … of collective faith. (pp. 75-76)

When Pagitt speaks of “expanding life of God” and “new creation,” he means that we cannot contain truth or reality within the confines of the written Word of God but that truth is always changing and being created.

Universalism is a pronounced theme in the book as well. Manifesto calls salvation “a collective experience.” A Manifesto poem illustrates this:

Not only soul, whole body!
Not only whole body, all of the faithful community!
Not only all of the faithful community, all of humanity!
Not only all of humanity, all of God’s creation! (pp. 82-83)

And panentheism (God is in all) is exhibited through statements like the following, which talks about the “holiness of humanity”:

[W]e are agents for change in the world (salvation, redemption, and reconciliation … it is a celebration of the holiness of humanity in which the fullness of God was pleased to dwell … it is our holy fleshiness. (p. 88)

What do the emerging church leaders hope to accomplish? Well, they tell us. They want you … they want the church to join up with them. Listen to this explanation:

The existing church/emerging church matrix can dissolve into missional collaboration and generative friendship. (p. 107)

And hearing that, we must ask, Is that what Josh McDowell is doing by endorsing Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church,2 and is that what David Jeremiah is doing by consistently promoting Erwin McManus? Are Christian leaders helping to bring about this dream of the emerging church by dissolving into it? Unfortunately, the answer to that seems to be yes. But how can we as believers follow them into this dark abyss?

In regard to biblical descriptions of last days apostasy, how does the Manifesto relate? It doesn’t. In speaking of the days that the Book of Revelation describes, the Manifesto states:

[F]olks who hang around the emerging church tend to see goodness and light in God’s future, not darkness and gnashing of teeth … [some] take the view that we’re in a downward spiral, and when things “down here” become bad enough, Jesus will return in glory…. We’re caught in the tractor beam of redemption and re-creation, and there’s no sense fighting it, so we might as well cooperate. (p. 130)

There is another underlying theme that is permeating the pages of this book and many of the other emerging church books in print, including Dan Kimball’s. There is a continual hammering away and chiseling down of the image of Christians (the kind who take the Bible literally and stand by its authority). This effort to villainize Christians is reminiscent of Germany in the 30s when artists would draw distorted pictures of Jews with certain facial features making them look weird, and when rumors and stories would run amuck even suggesting that Jews would rape your daughters, so don’t trust them. This all-out effort to get society to hate and mistrust the Jews worked. It was a campaign, not based on fact, but based on a demonic kingdom that hates anything that has to do with Jesus Christ. In the Manifesto, Brian McLaren boils down the world’s evils to the fault of Western Christians and suggests that these resisting Christians might even become militant against people one day. (Hitler was able to persuade people that the Jews were a threat so they better take them out before the Jews got them.) McLaren states:

What are we in the so-called emerging churches seeking to emerge from? I asked myself. We are seeking to emerge from modern Western Christianity, from colonial Christianity, from Christianity as a “white man’s religion … into a faith of collaborative mission … It is immediately clear that this kind of emergence must lead to a convergence — in the West, across denominations and across current polarizations, a convergence of postconservatives and postliberals into what Hans Frei and Stanley Grenz termed a new “generous orthodoxy.” (p. 150)

[M]any will react and oppose this emergence, seeking to maintain the hegemony of the West … perhaps even seeking a revival of crusading Christendom. (151)

In Ray Yungen’s book, For Many Shall Come in My Name, he discusses this very thing and shows how New Age leaders have been framing a social mindset that will eventually become hostile to Bible-believing Christians. Yungen explains how it will all be justified as doing humanity a favor by getting rid of them, and when he quotes the words of New Ager Neale Donald Walsch as saying that God believes Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them, it sends chills up the spine. And whether they realize what they are doing or not, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren and other emergent leaders are framing a similar mindset for people to climb into.

While it is sad to think about persecution that may be coming upon believers, it is even more tragic to realize how many unsaved people will never hear the Gospel because so many Christian leaders have given the emerging church a thumbs up. The publishers and editors at Baker Books should be ashamed of themselves for exalting such anti-Christ teachings or at the very least stop calling themselves a Christian publisher.

For those who are still skeptical about the Emergent Manifesto’s message, pick up a used copy sometime of Alice Bailey’s The Externalization of the Hierarchy, or Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance. And when you read those words by those “change agents,” see if you notice that the message is the same, just dressed in a different outfit called Emergent.

Emergent Manifesto does indeed “provide a rare glimpse,” but not one of hope. Rather it is a look into the near future of a world that is racing toward spiritual destruction through severe deception as the Bible predicts when it says that Satan will someday deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9).

 

Letter to the Editor: “Critical Race Theory”—A Political Tactic That Results in Cultural/Marxist Segregation
Photo: Karl Marx – Public Domain (Wikipedia)

LTRP Note: The following letter is written in response to a recent LT post regarding the SBC and Critical Race Theory.

Dear Editors:

“Critical Theory” and “Critical Race Theory” (CT/CRT) stratagem originated with the Frankfurt School where some Marxists came up with the more subtle scheme of “Cultural Marxism”—it is a political tactic which is all about gaining power over society (as is Marxism). In other words, CT/CRT is used to deceive people and increase the number of Marxist-minded individuals in order to undermine existing power so that Marxism can take over.

This overthrow will first be achieved “culturally,” and then complete economic, political, and societal control will follow. This is all done under the guise of things like: releasing the Oppressed; “setting the captives free;” social justice; helping the downtrodden; overthrowing “white supremacy” [which is committed by all with white skin according to CRT advocates]”; “smashing the patriarchy;” and a prevailing “us verses them” mentality. Religion and politics are often melded into one.

As a result, Alt-Left politics overtakes an individual’s religion, and that person’s religion becomes Leftist politics. (Note: It is common for a few verses to be used and perverted in order to sway Christ-followers into Marxist ideology (e.g. “seeking the peace of the city”; e.g. Jer 29:7; Lk 4:18; 2 Pet 3:16; 2 Tim 2:15-18).)

CRT/CT also includes being “Woke,” politically speaking.

The main approach in CRT/CT is to cause division, bitterness, envy, and strife by perpetually pitting classes against each other, particularly through false accusations. This is chiefly done by segregating everyone into the Oppressors or the Oppressed—and to then persistently demonize and seek to destroy those falsely judged to be Oppressors.

M.

 

 

Boy Scouts of America File for Bankruptcy Amid Sexual Abuse, Homosexual, and Transgender Allowances
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LTRP Note: The following is a commentary by an out-of-house source, providing some insight into the demise of The Boy Scouts of America. We are posting this for informational and research purposes.

What Happened to the Boy Scouts?

By Madeline Fry
Washington Examiner Commentator

The Boy Scouts of America is filing for bankruptcy in “what could be one of the biggest, most complex bankruptcies ever seen,” according to the Associated Press

What happened? The 110-year-old nonprofit organization has struggled with membership over the past few years due to two controversies: an apparent proliferation of sexual abuse cases and its recent acceptance of openly gay leaders, as well as transgender or female members. When the organization decided to accept girls and transgender boys among its members, it appeared the Boy Scouts couldn’t even tell you what a boy was. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

2018 – “Boy Scouts Changing Name To ‘Scouts BSA,’ As Girls Welcomed Into Program”

2017 – Boy Scouts’ Rulings Put Boys at Risk (and “Letter to the Molester” and “What Being Molested Cost Me”)

2017 – Boy Scouts, Reversing Century-Old Stance, Will Allow Transgender Boys

2015 – Boy Scout Committee Unanimously Approves Proposal to Lift Ban on Openly Homosexual Leaders

2013 – Boy Scouts to Implement Policy Allowing Openly Homosexual Members on New Year’s Day

2013 – Pentagon Official Who Pushed for Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Named President of Boy Scouts

2013 – THE VOTE IS IN: Boy Scouts vote to allow openly practicing homosexual members

2013 – The Implications of California’s Homosexual-Rights Bill to Removed Boy Scouts Tax-Exempt Status

2013 – Obama Says Homosexuals Should Have Access to Boy Scouts

2012 – Boy Scouts reaffirm ban on homosexuals despite relentless protest campaigns

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

 

Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day
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And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I know something about fighting fear because I’ve had a problem with fear all of my life. My dad was sent home from World War II in a hospital ship after attempting suicide, and my Mom was always afraid he would try it again.

Fear is contagious. Children pick up what their parents are feeling. Every night, I had a nightmare about being chased by something horrible, but I didn’t know what it was.

When I was fifteen years old, Mom told me to let Dad know that dinner was ready. I found him lying in bed unconscious from an attempt to commit suicide. Mercifully, we discovered him soon enough, and he recovered at the hospital.

I married a strong, healthy young man, and three years into our marriage, he had a massive heart attack. He needed a quadruple bypass but wasn’t strong enough to get the surgery because of the damage done to his heart. After a year of living with painful and debilitating heart problems, he died. During that year, every day when I was at work, I never knew if I would find him dead on the floor when I came home.

There have been other fearful things in my life, including cancer. The point is, even without persecution, we have to deal with fear. Drastic things can happen suddenly, without warning.

I had to overcome some fear in order to write my book How to Prepare for Hard Times & Persecution because the people who hate Christianity would not appreciate seeing it published. Some of those people work in our government. According to official government documents, I would be classified as an “extremist” and a “potential terrorist” because I am an evangelical Christian; I take what the Bible says about the end times seriously, and I believe that unborn babies should not be killed.1

The Bible says love is an antidote to fear. Therefore, anything we can do to increase our love for God and for one another will help get rid of fear. The Bible says:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

Our natural human love is inadequate. However, we can ask the Lord to give us His love, to enable us to love the way He does. The Bible says He can do that:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5, emphasis added)

God can enable us to do things we would never be able to do in our own strength. We are weak, but He is strong. And He is faithful to help His own. The Bible says:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. (Psalm 73:26)

A good antidote to the fear of what men can do to us is the “fear of the Lord.” This involves more than just reverence. It also includes the fear of God’s punishment. If our love isn’t strong enough to enable us to do what is right, then the fear of the Lord can give us the strength to do it.

According to the Bible, the fear of the Lord also gives us wisdom and understanding. It enables us to be rightly related to God.

It’s good when we can do the right thing because we love God. But when we are unable to do that, then we can recognize God’s power and authority, salute Him, and say, “Yes, Sir!”

After my dad became a Christian, he used to talk about the importance of “taking God seriously.” That includes the fear of the Lord. The Bible talks about how important it is:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy. (Psalm 33:18)

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. (Psalm 34:7)

There is a song based on that last Scripture about the angel of the Lord protecting those who fear Him. One night I had to walk through a dangerous neighborhood, and I was afraid. As I walked, I quietly sang that song. I started out feeling afraid, but as I kept singing, the fear decreased. And God protected me.

Another antidote to fear is keeping the big picture in mind—eternity. This world is not really our home. We are citizens of the kingdom of God. Our true home is Heaven, and our true king is Almighty God.
The apostle Paul said we are “ambassadors” for Jesus Christ:

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Think about what it means to be an ambassador. You have to leave your native land and live in another country, surrounded by people whose customs and values are different from yours. They may even be cruel and barbaric. You are only there temporarily, representing the government of your own country. At some point, your ruler will call you back to your native land.

The book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan describes us as being pilgrims on a journey through this world, on our way to Heaven. An old spiritual hymn has the same theme. Sometimes I sing this song when I read distressing news about what is going on in the world:

POOR WAYFARING STRANGER
(19th century)

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
But there’s no trouble, toil or danger
In that bright land to which I go.

It helps to remember that our time here on earth is only temporary and that this world is passing away. Here are two Scripture passages that give us the eternal perspective. I often think about this. The one from the book of Revelation is one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:4 5)

Sometimes worship can dispel fear. About twenty years ago, a mammogram showed signs of possible cancer in both of my breasts, and I had to get a biopsy done. I asked my surgeon to use a local anesthesia because that is less stressful to the body, and he agreed to do so. I wound up with two doctors cutting on me at the same time (one working on each breast). Evidently, they forgot I was awake because they were talking about seeing things that looked like cancer.

That was a frightening situation. The more they talked, the greater my fear became. Then I remembered a Scripture passage:

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

They were playing music in the operating room. I asked them to turn it off, which they did. Then I began to sing a worship song based on Scripture. By the time I finished singing the first line of that song, the fear just drained away.

All during that procedure, I kept on singing. One of the nurses knew the songs, and she sang along with me. I was at peace, focused on God instead of my ailing body. I was thinking about God’s love and faithfulness instead of worrying about my future. (As a result of that biopsy, I had a double radical mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy. The hardships I went through brought me closer to God. Being faced with your mortality changes your priorities, and it makes you know that you need God.)

No matter what happens to us, God is always worthy of our praise. The Bible says:

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

When we “magnify” the Lord, we don’t make Him bigger. He is already much greater than we can possibly comprehend. What we do is make ourselves more capable of recognizing His greatness. When we do that, God seems larger to us, which makes our problems seem smaller by comparison. Here are some Scriptures that remind us of how great and mighty our God is:

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. (Isaiah 66:1)

I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. (Isaiah 46:9-10)

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalm 19:1)

One thing that can cause fear is sins we have not dealt with. That puts a barrier between us and God, which makes it more difficult for us to turn to Him and to trust Him. Therefore, it is good to habitually invite God to search our hearts and show us if there is anything we need to repent of. King David said:

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

America has become a sex-saturated society. As a result, much of our entertainment contains things intended to incite lust. So do many commercials. Jesus warned us:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Obviously, that principle applies to women as well as to men. Our society takes such things lightly, but God takes them very seriously:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [lustful], Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance [contentions], emulations [jealousy], wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

We know that nobody is going to be perfect this side of Heaven. We will sin. The point is, when we sin, are we distressed about it? Do we repent? Do we make a serious effort to stop doing it? Do we keep asking God to help us overcome it? Are we doing it more and more and getting hardened to it? Or are we doing it less and less? What direction are we moving in?

When it comes to repenting from sins, abortion can be a real stumbling block because the world keeps telling us that what a pregnant woman has inside her is not a baby. The problem is, how can you repent for something you think is not a sin?

This is a strange double standard because the world will put Americans in jail for destroying an eagle’s egg. They know there is a baby eagle in there. Everybody knows that a pregnant cat has kittens inside her, and a pregnant dog has puppies inside her.

The world tells us that what a pregnant woman has inside her is only a “fetus.” Well, the word “fetus” is just a Latin word that means “child.” Doctors like using Latin terms for things.

There are many photos of babies in the womb who are sucking their thumbs. They are obviously babies and not blobs of tissue. Even sonograms can be clear enough to show that.

The Bible makes it obvious that what a woman carries inside her is a baby. In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that Mary became pregnant supernaturally when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Then she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist.

As soon as Mary walked into the room, carrying her recently conceived baby in her womb, the baby inside Elizabeth’s womb recognized Jesus and leaped for joy. We are also told that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still inside his mother’s womb:

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:41-44, emphasis added)

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15, emphasis added)

God can call a person to ministry before they are born. We see this with the prophet Jeremiah. God told him:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

If you have had an abortion or have encouraged anybody else to have one, then please repent. God will forgive you. He loves you.

You might find it helpful to read Psalm 51. David wrote it after the prophet Nathan confronted him about committing adultery with Bathsheba and setting up her husband Uriah to be killed, which in essence was murdering him. The Bible says that David had a heart for God, and he repented (1 Kings 11:4). In the Gospels, Jesus is called the “son of David” (Matthew 9:27, 15:22; Mark 10:47-48).

One thing that can cause fear is the fact that occultism is becoming mainstream. Satanists and witches desire to put spells and curses on Christians. In case you think such things are not real, the Bible says they are:

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. (Exodus 7:10-12)

Notice that Aaron did something supernatural in the power of God, and then Pharoah’s sorcerers did the same kind of thing, using “enchantments” (spells). However, Pharoah’s sorcerers were not able to harm Moses or Aaron because Aaron’s serpent ate (“swallowed”) the serpents of the sorcerers.

The bad news is that occult power is very real. The good news is that God is infinitely greater, and He takes care of His own. He is willing and able to protect us.

When you drive down a country road, you can go off that road on either side and wind up in a ditch. When it comes to the occult, we can fall into two ditches.

One ditch is to deny the existence and power of the devil and his demons. This means denying the Bible because Jesus is often shown casting out demons. And according to Mark 16:17, Jesus gave those who believe in Him the power to cast out demons. We see a number of examples of this in the Book of Acts.

The other ditch is to “see a demon behind every bush,” as the saying goes. Here’s an example from my life. I’m overweight. One day, I was eating a candy bar, and a woman who claimed to have a deliverance ministry tried to cast a “demon of chocolate” out of me. That kind of nonsense gives Christians a bad name.

When God confronts the devil, it is not like a wrestling match. It is more like squashing a bug with your finger, or flicking a fly off your shoulder. Almighty God has absolute power over the devil. God allows him to do some things, but the devil is on a leash, and eventually he will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). Look at what Jesus said:

But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:20, emphasis added)

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19, emphasis added)

We see a physical example of this when the apostle Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake. The natives knew this snake was deadly, and they expected Paul to die, but it didn’t harm him at all:

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. (Acts 28:3-6, emphasis added)

What happened to Paul demonstrates God’s protection from deadly physical things. However, the “power of the enemy” means spiritual dangers as well as physical ones. God is able to protect us from curses and spells.

God protects us. However, the Bible also tells us we should protect ourselves by putting on the “armor of God.” We are to be active, not passive:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

According to this passage, we are not to be passive. God expects us to love the truth, have faith, get the Word of God in us (develop a working knowledge of the Bible by reading it and studying it), and pray “always.” Obviously, we can’t be on our knees praying all day long, but we can have a spirit of prayer. We can be aware of God and stay in communication with Him throughout the day.

Before my husband died, we could be in the same room, doing different things, and not talking to one another. However, we felt one another’s presence. We were aware of the other person even when we were intensely focused on something else. There was an awareness of the one we love, and it was easy to talk from time to time.

We can be the same way with God. We can have times of intense prayer, but we can also talk with Him as we go about our daily routines—when we are cooking, or walking somewhere, or driving, or eating a meal.
God has ways of communicating with us. One of them is bringing Scriptures to mind. Another is nudging us, like a sheep dog nudges the sheep to get them to go where they need to be:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

A good example of God leading us (or nudging us) is the Christian mother whose son is a soldier in Afghanistan. One night she wakes up, feeling an urgent need to pray for her boy, so she prays her heart out for him. Then several weeks later, she gets a letter from her son, saying that his unit was ambushed. Some men were killed, and others were wounded, but he was not harmed. The mother looks at the date when the ambush occurred, and she realizes it happened during the time she was praying for her boy.

For an excellent study of the armor of God, I recommend the website by Berit Kjos, The Shepherd’s Way. Look at the section titled “The Armor of God” (www.shepherd.to).

In addition to this article, under the section titled “Bible Studies” there is a more in-depth study of this called “A Wardrobe from the King.” This is a series of studies (one for each piece of the armor).

The Bible tells us to “cast” our cares (fears, anxieties, worries, and concerns) on God because He cares for us (loves us and takes good care of us). That means giving our cares to God, and leaving them with Him—not taking them back again:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

This is easier said than done. We have to learn how to do it. Like many things in life, it takes practice. We can ask God to enable us to do it, to give us the grace for it, and to help us appropriate and work with the grace He gives us.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15, emphasis added)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18, emphasis added)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, emphasis added)

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:15, emphasis added)

To order copies of Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day in booklet format, click here.

Endnote
1. Jack Minor, “Military Warned ‘Evangelicals’ No. 1 Threat: Christians Targeted Ahead of Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Quaida, KKK” (WorldNetDaily, April 5, 2013, www.wnd.com/2014/04/military-warned-evangelicals-no-1-threat); Steve Ahle, “Colorado State Police and Homeland Security Target Christians As Anti-Patriots” (April 6, 2013, http://beforeitsnews.com/economics-and-politics/2013/04/breaking-news-colorado-state-police-and-homeland-security-target-christians-as-anti-patriots-2451594.html); Leigh Jones, “Army Reserve Presentation Calls Christians ‘Extremists’” (World Magazine, April 5, 2013, www.worldmag.com/2013/04/army_reserve_presentation_calls_christians_extremists); “Pro-Lifers Should Be Concerned About Obama Assassination List: Judge Napolitano” (February 6, 2013, Life Site News, www.lifesitenews.com/news/will-pro-life-errorists-be-names-to-obamas-assassination-list); Michael Snyder, “72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered ‘Potential Terrorists’ In Official Government Documents” (The Truth, August 26, 2013.http://thetruthwins.com/archives/72-types-of-americans-that-are-considered-potential-terrorists-in-official-government-documents).

(photo from the cover of Maria Kneas’ booklet, Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day; from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

Letter to the Editor: Please Further Explain “Cultural Marxism” and “Critical Race Theory”
Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Your article about SBC adopting CRT was well-written and quite interesting. I hope you continue to talk about this and keep informing us of the vast changes going on in most of today’s denominations. Your comments about Calvinism overtaking SB churches is true, too. I’m a member of a Baptist church here in the South and see their doctrine is basically Calvinistic. They also have a “Trunk or Treat” activity around Halloween, which bothers me greatly.

I rarely go to church now, due to both health issues and biblical disagreement with the leaders.

The problem with articles like yours is, rarely does a Christian even know what “Cultural Marxism” or Critical Race Theory are or even the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

Please, in the future, take time to define, clearly and easily with simple wording, what all of these things are. It’s imperative for Christians to get out of their worldliness and foggy thinking. Remember most people are “dumbed down” effectively by the gadgets and gods of this world, so in the future, when you write excellent articles dealing with subjects like this, remind yourself who you’re probably talking to, and go from there.

I do agree with your article and was nodding my head in agreement when you said “if SBC does have a racist problem, then they have a salvation problem with too many of it’s members.” AMEN. Keep telling the absolute, un-sugar-coated truth.

N.B.

Hamilton

[Critical Race Theory] doesn’t depend on your personal feeling, sentiment, [or] heart condition—it’s based on the group that you’re born into. . . . It completely eliminates individual responsibility, individual sin and expands it to corporate sin. And based on how you’re born, you are immediately ascribed into an “oppressor” or “oppressed” group. . . . Jesus articulated the primary commandments: love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself . . . We don’t need these anti-Christ, unbiblical tools to teach us how to love our neighbors as ourselves—the scripture is sufficient for that.—Abraham Hamilton III

LTRP Comment: Lighthouse Trails plans to do further reporting on this issue in 2020.

Below is the documentary on Critical Race Theory that the December 2019 Lighthouse Trails article referred to.

(illustration designed by Lighthouse Trails; taken from photos from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

The American Legion Gives Big Push for Veterans to Practice Transcendental Meditation

In a 2020 three-part series titled “Mysteries of the Mind,” The American Legion magazine tells veterans they should practice transcendental meditation if they feel stressed, saying that TM “can help veterans confronting PTSD.” Writer of the article, American Legion magazine editor Jeff Stoffer, enthusiastically adds:

Those who practice TM say the key to unlocking clear thought and function, no matter the situation, is to spend 20 minutes twice a day deliberately thinking about nothing, allowing the brain to essentially have a mind of its own. . . . Transcendental meditation, as a treatment for veterans diagnosed with PTSD, is not a New Age fad.

The American Legion has a strong influence throughout the world. According toThe American Legion magazine website,

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, servicemembers and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. . . . Today, membership stands at nearly 2 million in more than 13,000 posts worldwide.

Stoffer’s article does nothing but offer praise and accolades for meditation and downplays those who have concerns about it:

TM should not be ruled out because of any stereotypes or cultural biases. . . . Some skepticism is based on a perception that TM is a religious activity or has a specific spiritual or ideological bent. “To the contrary, we have found people becoming more understanding of their religion, more at peace with their god,” [brain-scientist Tony] Nader says. “We used to say that if religion is to invite God to your home, TM can be like cleaning your home.” . . .

“You’re not changing how you think. You’re not changing politics. You can be a Republican. You can be a Democrat. You can be Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – it doesn’t change you. You’re still who you are. Your mind is just in a better place. It doesn’t change you. It changes your physiology. It changes your mind. It changes how you deal with everything else.”

It is most unfortunate that Stoffer’s article gives no warning of the potential dangers in practicing meditation. His one-sided, biased view will no doubt convince many American Legion readers (veterans) to give it a try. And if they take Stoffer’s word for it, they’ll probably never research the matter and discover the real dynamics behind meditation. Stoffer’s article claims that meditation “doesn’t change you,” but admits it “changes your mind.” What a contradiction! If something changes your mind, it does change you. And as we have witnessed within Christianity with contemplative prayer (a “Christianized” eastern-meditation practice), meditation alters the way one thinks about God, sin, salvation, and just about everything in life itself—and, biblically speaking, not for the good.

The American Legion magazine’s motto is “For God and Country Since 1919,” but we do not believe the God of the Bible would agree with its efforts to turn veterans into eastern-religion meditators.

If you know a veteran, perhaps you might consider giving them a copy of Ray Yungen’s booklet, Meditation! Pathway to Wellness or Doorway to the Occult?. If you want to give a copy of this booklet to a veteran and cannot afford to purchase the booklet, e-mail us at editors@lighthousetrails.com, and we will send you a free copy to give to your veteran friend or relative.

The following list of the possible results from meditating is derived from the various sources we used to compile our booklet on mindfulness meditation:

insomnia
fear
hypersensitivity to light and sound
anxiety
difficulty eating
panic and paranoia
psychosis
seizures
mania
visual hallucinations
unable to function or work
a loss of sense of identity
psychotic depression
elevated mood and grandiose delusions
unrestrained behaviors (sexual and violence)
pain
confusion and disorientation
feelings of emptiness and ennui (listlessness, dissatisfaction)
depersonalization
impairment of social relationships
cognitive, perceptual and sensory aberrations
disempowering
causes passiveness and compliance (even when those are negative responses to certain situations)

Lilly Endowment’s Contemplative-Focused Clergy Renewal Program Updated Lists
Photo: Our Lady of Gethsemani Abby in Kentucky, a Trappist monastery, home of Thomas Merton

In 2013, we posted an article titled “What’s Up with Lilly Endowment – Funding Pastoral Sabbaticals with a Contemplative Agenda.” Below is a copy of that article (with excerpts from a related 2007 article). In it, it provides a link to the list of churches whose pastors were “winners” of the 2012 Lilly Endowment grants. Last week, we received a call from one of our readers asking for current lists. We have placed the links for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 at the end of the article.

If you are in a church where your pastor is planning to go on a sabbatical, whether it is sponsored by Lilly or not, find out if he is going to be spending part of his sabbatical time at a monastery or a contemplative retreat center and reading contemplative-influenced books. If he is, then very likely he will come back with an entirely different spiritual outlook—one that looks more like Catholic mystics Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr than the biblical apostles Peter, John, and Paul.

Our 2013 Article: “What’s Up with Lilly Endowment – Funding Pastoral Sabbaticals with a Contemplative Agenda.”

In 2007, Lighthouse Trails became aware of the Lilly Endowment grants that were being given to congregations and their pastors (the pastors then allowed to go on sabbaticals that had contemplative/emerging overtones). Since then, Lilly Endowment has turned over the administration of the Clergy Renewal Program to Christian Theological Seminary in Indiana (incidentally one of the schools on the Lighthouse Trails contemplative college list) but is still giving the grants. And today, just as was the case back in 2007, the Clergy Renewal Program has contemplative/emerging leanings. That’s actually an understatement. A look around the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs website will show ample evidence of these propensities. Once again, another instance where Christian pastors have compromised the calling to walk in the truth of God’s Word and rather participate in a mystical paradigm shift.

In 2012, the Lilly Endowment gave 6.5 million dollars to clergy members through the National Clergy Renewal Program. According to one report:

One hundred and forty-seven congregations will receive up to $50,000 to enable their pastor to take a three- to four-month sabbatical to gain fresh perspective and renewed energy for the ministry.

And according to the Lilly Endowment document that lists the winners of the 2012 grants, pastors will:

. . .  seek to regain spiritual vitality through the ancient Christian practice of walking as pilgrims in several countries—the path of Jesus in Israel, the path of the Exodus, some or all of the 500-mile Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) in Spain, the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul in Greece, Turkey and Italy—and making retreats in Benedictine monasteries, walking the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, and living in sacred space on the Isle of Iona and other Celtic spiritual destinations.

Winners represent various denominations including Southern Baptist, Independent, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopal, United Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene, Evangelical Free, and Mennonite.

http://www.pastoralexcellence.com/resources (Resource page that is provided by the Clergy Renewal Project – filled with many contemplative/emergent resources).

Below is the article we wrote in 2007. Still relevant today because Lilly continues to pour money into pastors lives to help them become more contemplative and more emergent. It is also still a relevant article because the Christian figures who participated in trying to thwart and diminish their critics (e.g. Lighthouse Trails) never recanted what they were doing and supporting.

“Emerging Church – A Move of God or a Well-Funded Enterprise?” – from 2007

The name keeps popping up – Lilly Endowment. Huge amounts of money being given in the form of grants to proponents of the emerging church. As Roger Oakland documents in his book, Faith Undone, Lilly gave $691,000 to the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project (Mark Yaconelli) in 2001. Lilly had funded the beginning of that project in 1997 as well. Lilly also funded Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, another emerging-type project with Diane Butler Bass . 1 New Age sympathizer Parker Palmer (friend and inspiration to emerging leader, Len Sweet) also enjoyed the benefits of Lilly Endowment grants.2

In an article titled “Social Change and Communitarian Systems,” it explains:

The Lilly Endowment “a private foundation…that supports community development, education and religion,” has also helped fund the [Peter] Drucker Foundation. But more recently, it has shown its support for Baptist leadership and pastoral training. Strangely enough, the two — Drucker’s communitarian vision for the “social sector” and seminary training in community-building — fit together….

This grant [$300,000] makes all the more sense in light of a new partnership between Golden Gate Seminary and Saddleback Church. The Baptist seminary will build a new branch on the Saddleback campus to train church leaders to use the digital data tracking technology needed to meet and monitor community needs around the world.3

In 1999, the now emerging/contemplative-promoting Bethel Seminary received $1.5 million from Lilly Endowment in a project created to identify “the next generation of Christian leaders.”4 Now, according to an article by emergent Tony Jones, in a more recent grant called Faithful Practices, Jones reaped benefits from Lilly.

And the money just keeps coming in. While many think that the emerging church must be a move of God because of its success and popularity, big funding could have a lot to do with it.

2020 Update:

Current lists of winners for the Lilly Endowment pastoral grants:

2019 List of Winners

2018 List of Winners

2017 List of Winners

2016 List of Winners

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

 

Lent and Contemplative – A Likely Match
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According to Wikipedia, Lent is:

. . . a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks (40 days) later on Holy Thursday, the memorial of the Lord’s supper the Thursday of Holy Week before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.1

While the Bible does not give any instruction to practice or participate in Lent, many churches do. In fact, since the contemplative prayer movement has come into full swing, more and more churches are observing Lent. And, in fact, Lent is often being used as the open door to bring contemplative prayer into a church. This is largely done through the multitudes of books from religious publishers who have now become conduits for contemplative spirituality.*

Here are the titles of some books currently on the market that incorporate contemplative into Lent:

Lent and Holy Week (Bridges to Contemplative Living) by Jonathan Montaldo and Robert G Toth

Wonderous Encounters (Scriptures for Lent) by Richard Rohr

A Living Lent: A Contemplative Daily Companion for Lent & Holy Week by Peter Traben Haas

The Ignatian Workout for Lent: 40 Days of Prayer, Reflection, and Action by Tim Muldoon

A Lenten Journey – paperback: A Contemplative Devotional On the Passion and Resurrection of Christ by Bill O’Byrne

Sacred Space for Lent

40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D’Ambrosio

Lent With Evelyn Underhill

Journey to the Center: A Lenten Passage by Thomas Keating

Lent and Easter Wisdom by Henri Nouwen

The Lenten Labyrinth by Edward Hays

Lenten Reflections: From the Desert to the Resurrection by Milton Lopes

Sensing God: Learning to Meditate During Lent by Laurence Freeman

While many of these books may be from Catholic or Orthodox publishers, do not think that will keep evangelicals from reading them. As we have mentioned in other documents, Catholic mystic Richard Rohr was told by one of his publishers that his largest reading audience was young evangelical men (tomorrow’s pastors).

In addition to the contemplative books that are specifically meant for Lent, there are countless contemplative books that are not solely for Lent or may not even mention Lent but to which Lent-observing churches turn during Lent.

The ritualistic and liturgical nature of Lent observance has become a “perfect” fit for contemplative spirituality; in many cases (maybe most today), where you find Lent being observed, you will also find contemplative spirituality lurking in its shadows.

*Contemplative spirituality:  A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others. During contemplative prayer, a word or phrase is repeated for several minutes with the intention of putting the mind into neutral and removing mental and other distractions. It is said that then one can hear the voice of God.

Related Articles:

Lent and Mennonites?

Evangelicals are making [Catholic contemplative] liturgical traditions their own

Celebrating the Atonement and the Resurrection While Promoting Contemplative – A Profound Contradiction

AWANA Continuing Down the Emergent Road

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; use with permission)

Ironside: A Missed Train for a Divine Appointment

By Harry Ironside
From his book, Full Assurance: Finding Settled Peace With God

For the most of my life, I have been an itinerant preacher of the Gospel, traveling often as much as thirty to forty thousand miles a year to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. In all these years, I only recall two occasions on which I have missed my trains. One was by becoming confused between what is known as daylight saving and standard time. The other was through the passive assurance of a farmer host, who was to drive me from his country home into the town of Lowry, Minnesota in time for me to take an afternoon train to Winnipeg, on which I had a Pullman reservation. I can remember yet how I urged my friend to get on the way, but he puttered about with all kinds of inconsequential chores, insistent there was plenty of time. I fumed and fretted to no purpose. He was calmly adamant.

Finally, he hitched up his team, and we started across the prairie. About a mile from town, we saw the train steam into the station, pause a few moments, and depart for the north. There was nothing to do but wait some five or six hours for the night express, on which I had no reservation, and found when it arrived, I could not get a berth so was obliged to sit in a crowded day coach all the way to the Canadian border, after which there was more room. While annoyed, I comforted myself with the words, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I prayed earnestly that if He had some purpose in permitting me to miss my train and comfortable accommodations, I might not fail to find it out.

When I boarded the crowded, foul-smelling coach, I found there was only one vacancy left and that was half of a seat midway down the car, a sleeping young man occupying the other half. As I sat down by him and stowed away my baggage, he awoke, straightened up, and gave me a rather sleepy greeting. Soon, we were in an agreeable, low-toned conversation while other passengers slept and snored all about us. A suitable opportunity presenting itself, I inquired, “Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?”

He sat up as though shot. “How strange that you should ask me that! I went to sleep thinking of Him and wishing I did know Him, but I do not understand, though I want to! Can you help me?”

Further conversation elicited the fact that he had been working in a town in southern Minnesota where he had been persuaded to attend some revival meetings. Evidently, the preaching was in power, and he became deeply concerned about his soul. He had even gone forward to the mourners’ bench, but though he wept and prayed over his sins, he came away without finding peace. I knew then why I had missed my train. This was my Gaza, and though unworthy, I was sent of God to be His Philip. So, I opened to the same Scripture that the Ethiopian treasurer had been reading when Philip met him—Isaiah 53.

Drawing my newly found friend’s attention to its wonderful depiction of the crucified Savior, though written so long before the event, I put before him verses 4, 5, and 6:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

As the young man read them, they seemed to burn their way into his very soul. He saw himself as the lost sheep that had taken its own way. He saw Christ as the one on whom the Lord laid all his iniquity, and he bowed his head and told Him he would trust Him as his own Savior. For perhaps two hours, we had hallowed fellowship on the way as we turned from one Scripture to another. Then he reached his destination and left, thanking me most profusely for showing him the way of life. I have never seen him since, but I know I shall greet him again at the judgment seat of Christ.

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

 

The Goal of Contemplatives: Changing the Consciousness of Humanity – One Contemplative Prayer After the Next

By Ray Yungen

Two authors from Great Britain portrayed a stunningly clear picture of New Age spirituality. They explained:

[T]he keynote of it appears to be a movement for synthesis derived from an understanding of the underlying unity behind all things and the sense of oneness that this brings.

This oneness of all life is the crux of the New Age movement.1

Catholic priest, the late Basil Pennington defined the contemplative spiritual worldview in his book Thomas Merton My Brother. He related:

The Spirit enlightened him [Merton] in the true synthesis [unity] of all and in the harmony of that huge chorus of living beings. In the midst of it he lived out a vision of a new world, where all divisions have fallen away and the divine goodness is perceived and enjoyed as present in all and through all.2

The first viewpoint describes God as the oneness of all existence. In Merton’s new world, God is perceived as being present “in all and through all.” It certainly appears that the same spirit enlightened both parties. The only difference was Merton’s revelation worked in a Christian context just as Alice Bailey predicted. Unfortunately, this context is now commonplace in Catholic circles, becoming so in mainline Protestant churches, and being eagerly explored and embraced by an ever-increasing number of evangelical Christians.

Evangelical leaders now debate whether such spiritual truths as resting in God are the same as contemplative silence. Based on these presented documentations, I believe contemplative prayer has no place in true Christianity. Scripture clearly teaches that with salvation comes an automatic guidance system—the Holy Spirit. Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his book Grace: The Glorious Theme, spells out this truth with crystal-clear clarity:

It is stated in Romans 5:5 that “the Spirit is given to us.” This is true of every person who is saved. The Spirit is the birth-right in the new life. By Him alone can the character and service that belongs to the normal daily life of the Christian be realized. The Spirit is the “All-Sufficient One.” Every victory in the new life is gained by His strength, and every reward in glory will be won only as a result of His enabling power.3

Show me a Scripture in the Bible in which the Holy Spirit is activated or accessed by contemplative prayer. If such a verse exists, wouldn’t it be the keynote verse in defense of contemplative prayer?

None exists!

I want to emphasize what I believe cuts through all the emotional appeal that has attracted so many to teachers like Richard Foster and Brennan Manning and really boils the issue down to its clearest state.

In his book Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster emanates his hoped—for vision of an “all inclusive community” that he feels God is forming today. He sees this as “a great, new gathering of the people of God.”4

On the surface, this might sound noble and sanctifying, but a deeper examination will expose elements that line up more with Alice Bailey’s vision than with Jesus Christ’s. Foster prophesies:

I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.5

Abbey of GethsemaniAbbey of Gethsemani

The only place in “the hills of Kentucky” where Catholic monks live is the Gethsemani Abbey, a Trappist monastery. This also, coincidentally, was the home base of Thomas Merton.

Let me explain this significant connection. In the summer of 1996, Buddhist and Catholic monks met together to dialogue in what was billed the “Gethsemani Encounter.”6 David Steidl-Rast, a Zen-Buddhist trained monk and close friend of Thomas Merton, facilitated this event.

During the encounter, presentations on Zen meditation and practice from the Theravedan Buddhist tradition were offered.7 One of the speakers discussed the “correlation of the Christian contemplative life with the lives of our Buddhist sisters and brothers.”8

For these monks and the Baptist evangelist to be “a people,” as Richard Foster says, someone has to change. Either the monks have to abandon their Buddhist convictions and align with the Baptists, or the Baptists have to become contemplative style Baptists and embrace the monks’ beliefs. That is the dilemma in Foster’s “great gathering of God.”

Thomas Merton with the Dalai LamaPhoto: Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama

David Steidl-Rast once asked Thomas Merton what role Buddhism played in his going deeper into the spiritual life. Merton replied quite frankly: “I think I couldn’t understand Christian teaching the way I do if it were not in the light of Buddhism.”9

Did Merton mean that in order to understand what Christianity really is, you have to change your consciousness? I believe that is exactly what he meant. Once he personally did that through contemplative prayer, Buddhism provided him with the explanation of what he experienced. But again the catalyst was changing his consciousness. This is what I am warning Christians about. Contemplative prayer is presenting a way to God identical with all the world’s mystical traditions. Christians are haplessly lulled into it by the emphasis on seeking the Kingdom of God and greater piety, yet the apostle Paul described the church’s end-times apostasy in the context of a mystical seduction. If this practice doesn’t fit that description, I don’t know what does.

You don’t have to change your consciousness to grab “aholt” of God. All you need is to be born-again. What Steidl-Rast and the other Gethsemani monks should have been telling Buddhists is, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

In his book, Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning mentions that Sue Monk Kidd eventually came under the mentorship of Dr. Beatrice Bruteau who authored the book What We Can Learn From the East. Since that title is self-explanatory, it’s easy to understand why Dr. Bruteau would write the preface to a book like The Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale. In the preface, she touts that a universal spirituality based on mysticism is going to save the world.

It seems that all these people want a better world. They do not seem like sinister conspirators like those out of a James Bond film. Yet, it is their niceness that rejects the reality of the fundamental separation between Man and God. It is their sense of compassion that feeds their universalism. It is idealism that makes Manning so attractive and causes him to say that Dr. Bruteau is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.”10

The irony of this is that Manning is completely correct in his statement—Dr. Bruteau is a reliable guide to contemplative awareness. She has founded two organizations, the Schola Contemplationis (school for contemplation) and the very Christian sounding Fellowship of the Holy Trinity. With the latter, she is promoted as “a well-known author and lecturer on contemplative life and prayer.”11 Both of these organizations incorporate Hindu and Buddhist approaches to spirituality. This should come as no surprise because Bruteau also has studied with the Ramakrishna order, which is named after the famous Hindu swami Sri Ramakrishna.

The Ramakrishna order is dedicated to promoting the vision of Sri Ramakrishna. He was known for his view that all the world’s religions were valid revelations from God if you understood them on the mystical level. He was an early proponent of interspirituality. According to the book, Wounded Prophet, Henri Nouwen even viewed him in a favorable light and esteemed him as an important spiritual figure.

Sue Monk Kidd became enamored with contemplative spirituality while attending a Southern Baptist church. We could possibly dismiss that and say she was just an untaught member of the laity who was spiritually lacking in discernment. Maybe her spiritual dryness was a result of her not being grounded firmly enough in the faith. But what about the leaders and pastors whom so many look up to and who are considered trusted individuals in the church? Surely they are able to discern what is spiritually unsound. It seems safe to make this assumption. Right? Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Surely they are able to discern what is spiritually unsound. It seems safe to make this assumption. Right? Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

Endnotes:
1. Ursula Burton and Janlee Dolley, Christian Evolution (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, GB: Turnstone Press, 1984), p. 101.
2. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton, My Brother (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1996), pp. 199-200.
3. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Grace, the Glorious Theme (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1977 Edition), pp. 313-314.
4. Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1998), p. 273.
5. Ibid., p. 274.
6. Credence Communications Catalog, Gift Ideas Edition.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Frank X. Tuoti, The Dawn of the Mystical Age (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1997), p. 127.
10. Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), p. 180.
11. Virginia Manss and Mary Frohlich, Editors, The Lay Contemplative (Cinncinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000), p. 180.

 


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