Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Healthy Dose of Salt

     "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." 

   It is always so interesting to me to see where my random research leads. It's amazing how one thing, or name, can lead to another. This morning I was reading an article on Rick Warren, and through a series of links that I'm not even sure I could trace again, I found myself reading about the author and speaker Gary Thomas. Maybe I'm just totally out of the loop (more than likely), but I hadn't heard of him before. In case you haven't either, books he has written include Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, and Sacred Pathways. It didn't take long to realize that Thomas teaches and encourages contemplative prayer, and is in fact, pretty candid about his beliefs. Glancing through the home page of his website I found this:
Gary’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and won numerous awards. His writings have established him as a thought-leader in the areas of marriage, parenting, and spiritual formation. Church leaders and pastors appreciate [...] Gary’s ability to challenge and encourage the spiritual depth of an audience. He has spoken at conferences, retreats, and college campuses in 49 states and eight countries, including appearances at the Focus on the Family National Marriage Simulcast, the Gaithers’ Praise Gathering, and several National Pastor’s Conventions.
The terms "spiritual formation" and  "contemplative spirituality" are commonly synonymous. Lighthouse Trails gives concise definitions of what these phrases mean. 
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.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.
Now that the little alarm bells in my head were going off, my attention was drawn to the short list provided on some of his appearances. The names Focus on the Family and the Gaithers immediately jumped out at me. I don't listen to Focus on the Family, myself, but I am definitely very familiar with it. 
   As for the Gaithers..... :( it is a sad, sad day for Ally. If it is the same Gaithers that I can only assume he is referring to, (and it is, I looked it up) then excuse me for a moment while I go have a little cry. I love the Gaithers' music. I've been listening to them since I was a kid. I wasn't able to find much about the Gaithers, but unfortunately, a little digging on that topic brought to light a very concerning fact. In 2005 the Gaithers hosted what I discovered was a 3 day event, called the Gaithers' Praise Gathering. It was a combination event of concert and speakers. According to the web page where tickets were sold for the event "Authors Ken Gire and Brian McLaren will keynote the three-day event, which also features 15 speakers and three dozen entertainers..." These men, in particular McLaren, are leading the Emergent Church movement. I also discovered that, other well-known names in the Emergent movement such as Leonard Sweet and Donald Miller were among the 15 speakers. Of course, contemplative  Calvin Miller and Gary Thomas were also participants. Folks, that's quite a line-up that can't be ignored. To me, by hosting the event, they endorsed these men and their teachings. Suffice it to say....I'm sad.
   After I had dug as deep as it seemed possible on the Gaithers, I moved on to see what I would find about Focus on the Family. Sadly, there was quite a bit more material available in regards to their involvement in connection to Gary Thomas, and the contemplative movement as a whole. But, before we look at that, I want to tell you a little bit more about what Thomas teaches and why promoting his books/teachings are dangerous. In his book Sacred Pathways, Thomas gives directions about how to practice mantra meditation, or what he calls centering prayer. He says,
It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing.(p. 185)
This is not the type of prayer that is taught to us in Scripture. This is a mystical type of 'prayer' and meditation that has been cloaked in a few Christian sound words.  But it doesn't end there. In another of his books, Sacred Marriage, Thomas introduces his readers to author Mary Anne McPherson Oliver, specifically her book Conjugal Spirituality. He quotes her several times throughout the book, and even again in the epilogue. He writes in the epilogue, 
I'm inspired by Mary Anne McPherson Oliver's words:
 "Conjugal saintliness is clearly an ideal from which most of what we see and experience is far removed...If there are couple-saints around, we might not recognize them, and if we have never looked for the work of the Spirit in sexuality, we might not have noticed it. Besides, saints are rare, and holy couples should be statistically rarer still. Logically, one would expect at three-to-one ratio, since there are not only two human beings but their relationship to perfect."
What if a few Christian couples took this pioneering challenge seriously and made it their goal to become a "couple-saint"?
Obviously, this small segment has issues enough to discuss, but it is important to also point out why finding Mary Anne McPherson Oliver's name in the book is so frightening. In an Article on the Lighthouse Trails blog, they go into detail on Oliver. 
Who is Mary Anne McPherson Oliver and why should Christians be concerned about Gary Thomas’ promotion of this woman’s book, Conjugal Spirituality?
On the back of Oliver’s book, it states that “[r]eligious practice as we know it today remains, in effect, ‘celibate.’ Mary Anne Oliver proposes an alternative … she examines the spiritual dynamics of long-term relationship.” Some may be wondering, “What does that all mean?” To put it simply, Oliver believes that sexuality and spirituality go together and that couples are missing out because they have not incorporated the two but rather have practiced what she calls a celibate spirituality.
Oliver received her doctorate in mystical theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and her book permeates with her mystical persuasions. She describes her “discomfort” regarding present views on sexuality and religion and says she hunted for answers by talking to monks, going on retreats and even spending an entire (“liturgical”) year at Taize, an ecumenical, meditation-promoting community in France. Eventually, she came to identify what she termed “conjugal spirituality” (p. 1).
Oliver says that “negative attitudes” and “walls” toward sex have inhibited people and says: “Although the walls are coming down, the separation of sex and spirituality which has been operative since the 4th century has yet to be completely eliminated” (p. 16).
What exactly is Oliver proposing couples do to remove these “walls”? Very clearly, her message to couples is to turn to mysticism. In dismay, she says that “spiritual counsellors [sic] and writers” have not begun to teach the “Upanishads and Tantric writings as the basis for moral theology for couples” and that [s]ome still refuse to grant that mystical experience can be associated with erotic love” (p. 18). Oliver says that changes in mainstream theology have prepared the way for “the emergence of conjugal spirituality.” She adds: “An upsurge of interest in the spiritual life and a renaissance in mystical studies have widened the domain of spirituality” (p. 27). [...]
In Conjugal Spirituality, Oliver talks favorably about mystic Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point and the “Indian Tantric Yoga tradition … spoken of as kundalini potential energy” (p. 97). She describes public sexual ceremonies in which couples practice “Taoist visualizations and meditations, accompanied by breathing exercises” and talks of “[i]nvoking the gods and goddesses.” Oliver says that society may frown on such public displays of sexual mysticism at this time and couples may have to improvise until restrictions are lifted. She says that “sexual union celebrated [is] an eschatological sign of God’s kingdom where all will be one” (p. 101).
   This does not seem to be someone that is worthy of being quoted several times throughout a Christian book. And it is disturbing to realize that Thomas agrees with Oliver's beliefs enough to not only promote her work, but find her words inspiring. So, with that brief glimpse into Gary Thomas and his obvious contemplative spirituality, it already begs the question why would Focus on the Family have anything to do with him, much less sell/promote his books on their website? Back in 2006 Lighthouse Trails wrote a letter to Focus on the Family regarding their concern about their promotion of Thomas. They received back THIS letter. (Take a second to read it, it's short!)

  I know, it's small writing and hard to read. So for those of you with bad eyes (mom! lol)... After the initial "thank you for your concern" paragraph, it goes on to say,
   Allow me to come straight to the point, Ms. Dombrowski. After a careful review, our staff has found nothing within the pages of Sacred Parenting that contradicts the Christian faith or Dr. Dobson's philosophy of child-rearing in any way. As a matter of fact, we feel strongly that this book will be a tremendous help and a great inspiration to those moms and dads who choose to take advantage of its message. We are not in a position to to address the contents of Mr. Thomas' other writings, of course, but this much we can tell; there is and always has been a strong tradition of contemplative prayer in the Christian church that has nothing to do with mantras and Eastern meditation. To confuse the two, as you have done, is to jump to unwarranted conclusions based on a misunderstanding of certain features they appear to share in common. 
   We hope this reply has clarified our perspective for you. [...]
A misunderstanding of features they share in common? In my mind this shows a lack of discernment on the part of Focus on the Family. And I can't help but wonder exactly what they are referring to when they speak of the strong tradition of contemplative prayer in the church. It is certainly not Scriptural. And as for whatever "tradition" they refer to, if it doesn't line up with the Word of God then it should hole zero weight, and immediately be thrown out. This is not the only letter in which Focus on the Family has defended it's connection with contemplative prayer and/or Gary Thomas. This is the reply that a concerned Christian that recently contacted them about contemplative prayer:
Dear Friend: Thank you for writing to Focus on the Family.  It was good of you to contact us with your candid concerns about our ministry’s involvement with what has sometimes been called “contemplative prayer.”  Thoughtful, honest feedback like yours is always welcome here at Focus headquarters.  We’re happy to have this opportunity to respond to the thoughts you’ve shared.
While we appreciate your input, we also feel bound to inform you that you are mistaken on a couple of different fronts.  To begin with, your assertion that Focus on the Family is “promoting” contemplative prayer and spirituality is neither fair nor accurate.  Yes, we have occasionally referenced speakers and authors who deal with subjects of this nature – individuals such as Richard Foster, Larry Crabb, and Beth Moore.  But none of this, in our opinion, amounts to “promoting” contemplative prayer.  The truth of the matter is that we have far too much else on our plate to become involved in any such activity.  The heart of our outreach is practical family ministry.
That said, we also find it hard to understand why any particular method of prayer should be regarded as “a dangerous deviation from sound Bible practices.”  After all, there are probably as many different ways of praying as there are people offering prayers.  Besides, there is nothing unbiblical or anti-Christian about solitude, silence, and contemplation.  Far from it!  After all, it was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire that the Lord spoke to Elijah, but rather in the “still, small voice” of intimate, personal communion (1 Kings 19:12).  David highlights the value of this type of spiritual discipline in Psalm 4:4, where he writes, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”  Another Psalmist similarly represents the Lord as exhorting His people to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  And Jesus Himself, who lived and breathed the Old Testament Scriptures, often retired to quiet, secluded spots in the wilderness or on the mountain where He could converse with His Father apart from the noise and distraction of the crowd (see Mark 1:35).  In time, His disciples learned to follow His example in this regard.
On the basis of this firm biblical foundation, a strong tradition of Christian contemplation and mysticism has grown up within the church over the past 2,000 years – a tradition that has nothing whatsoever to do with “dangerous” New Age spirituality.  Many of the early church fathers of the first three centuries of the Christian era – men like Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, John Chrysostom, and Anthony of Egypt – were contemplatives who had mystical experiences in prayer.  It is even possible to trace this strain of spirituality to the apostles themselves:  Peter, for example, who saw visions on the roof of the house of Simon the Tanner (Acts 10:9-16), or Paul, who speaks of having been “caught up to the third heaven” where he “heard inexpressible words which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), or John, whose encounter with the risen Christ while “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” gave us the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9). In our view, it’s not the form or style of such experiences, nor the methods or techniques of prayer that precede them, that should determine their legitimacy, but rather their content and the degree to which they either do or do not bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We hope this reply has clarified our perspective for you.  Thanks again for caring enough to contact us.  Don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of any further assistance.  God bless you.
 Timothy Masters
Focus on the Family
Read the full article HERE. It has other links throughout it that you might find interesting. As for their claim that they are not promoting the speakers and books that teach contemplative prayer, I do not think that it is true. As a outreach ministry, as soon as you attach your name with theirs, it necessarily means that you agree and recommend that teacher or book. Because, if you disagreed or were seriously concerned about the content of their teaching you would not have allowed them on your program to begin with. In addition, whatever books you sell on your website indeed indicates that you promote the teachings therein. There is no way around that.
One more article HERE of an FOF  reply to a concerned Christian, in which they say that, "we would mention that we are familiar with the group you’ve quoted; it’s not the first time we’ve heard such allegations, it probably won’t be the last, and we take whatever we hear from that quarter with a healthy dose of salt." (The group that they are referring to is the discernment website Lighthouse Trails Research) It would seem that Focus on the Family is determined to turn their head away from recognizing the dangers that they are either wittingly, or unwittingly, promoting. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it should be the other way around, and we should be taking what they teach with a healthy dose of salt.
    Sometimes I wonder if there is anything left that has been untouched by some kind of deception. It's everywhere. I hope that when you read these things that you take some time to go through it and test it in light of Scripture. That can be our only litmus test. No person, teacher, group, or ministry is above the Word of God.


Monday, May 20, 2013


   Error is like leaven, of which we read, ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.’ Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.  -Harry Ironside

   As Christians, a lot of us love to read, do we not? We love to read books that will inspire us, teach us, encourage us, affirm us. I know I sure do. I don't think I will ever know or care to admit to how many hours I have clocked in my life with my nose in a book. Unfortunately, Satan has not left that area of our lives unscathed from his deceptions and propaganda. There are many, many books circulating amongst Christian circles that should never have been allowed access. Of course, in his usual method, Satan has used authors to package his lies amid the prettily packaged "Christianese." Some more subtly than others, there are many authors who have managed to sneak their books into Christian circles, and have thus have opened up a large number of Christians to begin to unsuspectingly embrace their New Age, contemplative, universalist, ecumenical, or emergent ideologies.
   There are so many that a person could name, but a couple of examples would be The Shack by William P. Young, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. I would guess that most Christians have at least heard of these books from one Christian friend or another. They are pretty well-known. The problem is that the content of these books are doing more harm in leading believers astray than they are encouraging a right and true understanding of the Lord and His Holy Word. Warren Smith, a Christian author/speaker who was saved out of the New Age movement, coined a phrase that I think pretty accurately describes the state of the Church these days. His definition is as follows:

evangelical – in, of, or according to Gospels or the teachings of the New Testament.
gullible – easily tricked.
evangullible – easily tricked by teachers/teachings that seem to be biblical but are not.

With books like Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, Eugene Peterson’s The Message, Leonard Sweet’s Quantum Spirituality, and Paul Young’s The Shack, what once was an evangelical church has, in a very short period of time, become an “evangullible” church. 
I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to be is gullible. 
   I think most people are aware of the common objections to The Shack, such the portrayal of God as a woman, that God was crucified with Jesus, and so forth. There are quite a few heresies woven throughout the story that I would hope Christians would be able to discern. By the way, The Shack is in the very beginning stages of eventually being made into a movie.  However, there are also New Age undertones subtly included. Because of his past in the New Age movement, Warren Smith was able to discern the way Young included a "God in everything" message in The Shack.
However, the author’s use of poetic license to convey his highly subjective, and often unbiblical, spiritual views becomes increasingly problematic as the story line develops. This is most apparent when he uses the person of “Jesus” to suddenly introduce the foundational teaching of the New Spirituality/New World Religion — God is “in” everything. Using the New Age term “ground of being” to describe “God,” the “Jesus” of The Shack states:
“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things….” (p. 112)
This false teaching about a “God” who “dwells in, around, and through all things” is the kind of New Age leaven that left unchallenged could leaven the church into the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. And while many people have expressed a great deal of emotional attachment to The Shack and its characters — this leaven alone contaminates the whole book.
You can read the entire article that Smith wrote HERE.

   Also, check out this short interview of Paul Young about The Shack. 
He has not come to give us the Holy Spirit to help us be like Him? Being a Jesus follower is not trying to be like Him, it's about allowing Him to be Himself? His words, not mine, folks. 

"[...]but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15,16

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps..." 1 Peter 2:21

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:3-6

These are just a few of the verses that instruct us to practice holiness, to be like Jesus. That is a lot of essential doctrine and Scripture for Young to decide to toss out. 

   As for the Chicken Soup books, I have never personally read any of them. I have, however, read up on the author/s of them, which for me was more than enough to convince me that I was not missing anything that would be helpful to my walk with the Lord. In fact, I think reading them would do quite the opposite. A quick search on the internet showed me how they can look pretty innocent. I typed Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul into google and clicked on the first link. It was a link to buy the book for $2 (tempting, eh?!) with this description:
 These stories will deepen readers' Christian faith & expand their awareness of how to practice Christian values in their daily life: at home, at work & in the community. This collection will open readers' hearts to the experience & expression of more love in their lives. This collection will open your heart to the experience and expression of more love in your life and will remind you that you are never alone or without hope, no matter how challenging and painful your circumstances may be.
Doesn't look so bad. Nothing overtly alarming there, and easy to see how one could get sucked into it. Especially for that kind of deal... I was tempted to buy it myself just on principle! ;)  But then I did some digging on one of the authors, Jack Canfield. It would appear that Canfield is quite strongly embracing New Age philosophy, and is even considered by some to be a guru. These are his own words from Choosing to be Happy:
"Every religion I've looked at has some technology--- ... I've studied all of them and found what works for me and I've tried to make it available to others. What works for me is a combination of disciplines: I do yoga, tai chi which is a Chinese martial art and three kinds of meditation-vipasana, transcendental and mantra (sound) meditation. If you have to pick a yoga for me, I lean towards bhakii in the sense of devotion, adoration, singing, feeling love and joy exist in my heart."
There is a another article HERE that more fully delves into the overtly dangerous New Age teachings of Canfield.  I did not look much into the other co-author Mark Hansen, as by the time I got to him I had seen enough to not go near their books. However, there are indications that he is on the same track as Canfield...not surprisingly. I would encourage you to go ahead and do your own research on them both if you are not yet convinced. These books, to me, represent the perfect example of how Satan is managing to infiltrate the Church through nicely packaged, innocent sounding Christianese.

   On a parting note, I came across this handy dandy list today which consists of tons of authors/books whose teachings have been found to be errant, or at least concerning. It is divided by topics of concern, and even includes names of "Christian" book sites to be wary of. The purpose of the list is to give you a warning and jumping off point, so that you can do research on your own and come to your own conclusions about whether the authors are safe to read or not. It is a very extensive list, and the outreach ministry that compiled it is continually adding to it, as things are brought to light. You may be surprised by some of the names on it. Check it out! Master List of Authors and Books Not Recommended


Monday, May 13, 2013

Lambs to the Slaughter

   Bryce and I have been reading a book this week called Like Lambs to the Slaughter: Your Child and the Occult, by a woman named Johanna Michaelsen. If you have never heard of her, she is a former occultist, now a born again believer, who in the 30+ years since she left the occult has devoted her time to studying current trends and occult practices in order to warn and equip the church in these last days.  I would highly recommend reading this book, even if you don't have kids. You can get it on Amazon for $0.01! Because of her knowledge and previous experience in the occult, she has some incredible insight into how the education system, books, television, movies, and so on have become a hunting ground for children, and youth's, minds and hearts.
   Today I'm only focusing on the education system. I realize that this is a very sensitive subject with people, but, can't be ignored. Don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to insinuate that all teachers have an occultic or socialist agenda in the classroom. Myself having been a teacher, with a degree in Education, I realize that there are a large number of teachers that genuinely love working with children, and have innocently invested themselves in a teaching career. The purpose of my post today is simply to bring some thoughts to light regarding the underlying purposes of the public education system by those who founded it, how it has been used for religious and political purposes, and what the Lord has to say about it.
   Through slow and subtle changes in the education system over the years, our society's children have fallen prey to a very deliberate "dumbing down." They are being brainwashed and programmed to become an easily managed and manipulated society that will accept a totalitarian global governance system. Most are not aware that these changes are not just happening now, but have already happened, and been in place for quite some time. Think about it. We see in the news all the time now about elementary school children who have been punished by their schools for ridiculous things, such as while a boy was eating his sandwich it "looked like a gun," or a student had a folded piece of paper in her pocket that was "shaped like a gun." What are these children being taught through this? That guns are BAD. That they (civilians) aren't, or shouldn't be, allowed to have guns. Why? I'll let you decide. To me, it's an obvious symptom to spot of the diseased ideology that is epidemic in the school system. And we didn't get to this point of ridiculousness overnight. There is so much that could be said on this, but Charlotte Iserbyt says it all better than I could in this video of an interview done on The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. It starts out a little slow, but don't quit on it!
   Another scary indoctrination happening in the schools is the teaching of occultic practices in the classroom. The two seemingly separate issues (the religious and global governance agendas) are not mutually exclusive. They work hand in hand. In the first chapter of Like Lambs to the Slaughter, Michaelsen warns of the connection. 
We are raising a generation of children to be psychics, shamans, mediums and occultists- a generation of children for for whom there are no absolutes, no right or wrong, no morals, no allegiance to government or family. This generation of children is being carefully groomed to believe that Christianity is a dead, empty, irrelevant religion that is bigoted and narrow-minded; a religion to be feared and despised, for it stands in the way of the ushering in of the great New Age of "harmony" and "unity" and "peace." We have a generation of children carefully being programmed to understand the imperative for a one-world government, a one-world ruler, and a one-world religion. These children, soon to be adults, will at the right time "intuitively" grasp the importance of taking final Luciferic Initiation in order to enter the "New Age."
  Children are being attacked by deception from multiple angles, for ultimately the same goal. And not by accident. If New Age deception has been able to penetrate the Church, it stands to reason that it would even more easily and blatantly be permeating a secular system. Marilyn Ferguson, who authored the well-known New Age book The Aquarian Conspiracy, among other books, was clearly proud of the success rate of the infiltration into the schools. On page 35 of Lambs to the Slaughter we read:
A great deal of effort is going into luring teachers into the New Age perspective - what prominent New Age author Marilyn Ferguson calls "personal transformation." Ferguson points out that "tens of thousands of classroom teachers, educational consultants and psychologists, counselors, administrators, researchers, and faculty members in colleges of education have been among the millions engaged in personal transformation." She boasts that "of the Aquarian Conspirators surveyed, more were involved in education than in any other single category of work."
Just a little further ahead on the next page Michaelsen shares:
Those who don't go along with the program will eventually find themselves "phased out." As the NEA has pointed out "...teachers who conform to the traditional institutional mode are out of place. They might find fulfillment as tap-dance instructors, or guards in maximum security prisons or proprietors of reduction salons, or agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation...but they can damage teaching, children, and themselves by staying in the classroom."
While students are being indoctrinated with meditation, visualization techniques, yoga, and so forth in their classrooms, the teachers are being trained (and usually unaware of it) to accept and embrace these techniques. And if you, as a teacher, don't, then run the risk of being phased out. The prognosis doesn't look good, for either the children or the teacher that refuses to jump on the bandwagon. While obviously not all teachers sit around thinking of ways to corrupt their students, there are plenty of those who develop the programs, and set the policies, that have a definite agenda. Unfortunately, many are unwittingly falling under their influence. Those who do know what they are doing are often referred to as "change agents." (Charlotte Iserbyt talks about them some in the above video. She attended a change agent training seminar for the purpose of exposing what is happening.) Change agents are nothing new in the schools. In fact, Like Lambs to the Slaughter was published in 1989 I believe, so as you can see, these goings ons have been going on for a very long time. Michaelsen writes,
In recent years, however, change agents are gathering around the country to discuss the best methods available to them for smuggling occult techniques and philosophies into the classroom. Their goal, as stated by one teacher at a New Age seminar: "To help the children get in touch with their divinity. These things are crucial to our evolution." 
And this was back in the 80's! There is a TON more information regarding how this has come to be, but I don't think you want me to quote several chapters to you. I guess you'll just have to read the book. Ha! ;) This article that I came across the other day, Training Children to Thank a Goddess, was also an interesting read. And very short, I promise.
   Lastly, I wanted to share this video. I, personally, believe that homeschooling is the Biblically supported method of training and educating our children. Voddie Baucham gives an excellent presentation from the same view, with a great deal of Scripture to support it. Even if you don't agree, I really hope you take the time to give it a chance and watch it all the way through.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2

"O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledgeby professing it some have strayed concerning the faith." 1 Timothy 6:20, 21 


Monday, May 6, 2013


   I was perusing a couple discernment ministry websites today, reading various articles as the titles caught my eye. I do this pretty much every morning, usually with no particular subject in mind, just doing my best to keep informed. I found myself reading article after article under the topic of ecumenicism. (I will write more about this subject on another day with some links to some informative articles). For now, I just had a few thoughts that I would like to share. Across the majority of what I was reading I noticed that proponents of the ecumenical movement proclaimed to put aside doctrinal differences in favor of unity and love, thus insinuating that those who opposed it did not. I could not help but think how confused this view is. 
   According to the Bible, that is not what love is. To love is to obey God's Word. 
 "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it." 2 John 1:6

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15

Love's allegiance is to the Lord, and to obedience to His commandments. How can we work hand-in-hand, in the name of unity with the "church," with doctrines that deny Biblical truth and practice heresy, and say that that is love? It can not be so.
   True Biblical love springs from truth. According to 1 Corinthians, love "rejoices in truth." It is centered around the truth of God's Word, and we are told to speak it in love. Participants of the ecumenical movement withhold from speaking the truth under the guise of maintaining unity and love. Is it love to let people that you so adamantly defend as brothers and sisters in Christ to continue on in false doctrine? True love cares enough to warn those it loves.
 "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18
   Biblical love clings to sound doctrine and defends it in love. 
"Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." 2 Timothy 1:13,14 
It appears, so often, that those who try to uphold sound teaching are viewed as troublemakers, bent on disturbing the atmosphere of peace and love. But Paul says to "hold fast." It is tragic to me to watch the example set for us throughout Scripture of defending God's truth and exposing errant doctrine be thrown by the wayside and declared unloving. 
   Interestingly, Paul asserts that love is able to discern. He prays for the church in Philippi, that, 
"your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ" Philippians 1:9,10
Is ignoring sound doctrine for the sake of "love" Biblical? It would appear not. 

"Some Christians who once championed sound doctrine beat a retreat once in a while and from stratospheric heights announce that they do not 'stoop to controversy'. When a man contends for the faith in New Testament style he does not stoop.  Contending for the faith is not easy.  It is not pleasant business. It has many perils.  It is a thankless job.  And it is highly unpopular in this age of moral fogs and spiritual twilights.  It is a day of diplomats, not prophets.  It is nicer to be an appeaser than an opposer.  It is the day of Erasmus, not Luther; the day of Gamaliel, not Paul." 

I hope my ramblings made some kind of sense today, and that you are encouraged to hold fast to sound doctrine and defend it in love. :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

A New Age in the Church

   It never ceases to amaze me how subtle Satan can be with his deceptions....and yet so blatant. Know what I mean? It creeps in through words, phrases, and ideologies in movies we watch, in books we read, and now even from Church leaders that claim to follow Jesus Christ. It happens slowly over time and in such a way that we become desensitized to the words or ideas being introduced to us and we don't even realize it. I believe this is the way that Satan has been able to seduce Christians into accepting New Age ideas and philosophies without them ever being aware of what was happening. It is so subtle. And yet, once we know what to look for, we see it everywhere. And all of a's so blatant. Because of a massive movement of deception throughout the Church, so many Christians are embracing things heavily influenced or derived from the New Age religion, such as contemplative prayer and mysticism, The Message Bible, and yoga. 
   Many well known leaders in the Church today have begun teaching and promoting contemplative prayer, which is nothing short of a practice of meditation. However, it has been very cleverly packaged in it's presentation, so that it could appear innocent to the unsuspecting. Isn't that how it works though? It's been said that the greatest deception is 99% truth with 1% lie. Isn't that how Satan has worked since the very beginning? All he needs is for the door to be cracked open. It is SO important to check EVERYthing against what the Bible says about it - we should be like the Bereans.

"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:10-11
This short video clip is a segment taken from the documentary The Submerging Church, which was put out by Good Fight Ministries. I would recommend watching the entire movie if you ever get a chance.
   Another way that the New Age movement has crept into the Church is through the reading of Eugene Peterson's The Message "Bible" version. Though, arguably, it is not a legitimate Bible version, and is in fact quite frightening once some things are understood about it. Through the use of paraphrase, Peterson has crafted The Message to present the doctrines of mysticism to the Christian church in order to seduce believers into the occult and the New Age Movement. This should not be surprising, coming from the man that also wrote The Contemplative Pastor. The title alone should send up a red flag, since we know that the contemplative movement is heavily "New Agey." But if further convincing is necessary, lets take a quick look at his own words, found in Chapter 2 of The Contemplative Pastor: 

"I want to cultivate my relationship with God. I want all of life to be intimate—sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously—with the God who made, directs, and loves me. And I want to waken others to the nature and centrality of prayer. [...] I know it takes time to develop a life of prayer: set-aside, disciplined, deliberate time. Usually, for that to happen there must be a deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day, a disciplined detachment from the insatiable self." 

   Is it just me, or are more red flags going up in regards to what we know about contemplative prayer? So, now back to The Message. Is it any wonder that Peterson's paraphrase would include some subtle and not so subtle New Age tones? The well known verses in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer, contain probably the most blatant reference to the New Age Movement. Here are the verses in the New King James Version, and then The Message.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. 

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors. 

And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

......The Message:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.
   Now. Aside from the fact that these are not the words Jesus spoke, notice the inclusion of the phrase "as above, so below." That is a very common New Age phrase, that is well known and understood within that movement. The book by Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose, sheds light on this phraseology. He quotes the chief editor/author (Ronald S. Miller) of the New Age book titled As Above, So Below, in which Miller goes into detail about the phrase: 

Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked.   

Miller continues describing the meaning of “as above, so below” by quoting Sufi scholar Reshad  Field:
“‘As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God. . . . The One and the many, time and eternity, are all One.” (ellipsis in original)
In 2004 when I searched “as above, so below” on the Internet, the first entry listed further defined this “key” New Age term:
This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’ . . . The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man.”
   I do not think there is any justification for why Peterson would have felt the need to insert such an obvious and well known New Age invocation into the Bible, much less portray it as coming out of the mouth of the Great I Am. (Here is an article further analyzing The Message.) Not to mention the obvious question as to whether a paraphrase of the Holy Word of God is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. I do not think so. There is no way to paraphrase what He has said without changing, adding, or taking away from it, which is clearly forbidden in Scripture. 

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8-9
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6

    The last topic for today is yoga. A widely accepted practice among Christians today, who unfortunately I believe toy with fire in the "innocent" participation of it. I am not saying that every Christian who does or has done yoga is possessed by spirits, however, I think that it is dangerous in that it can open doors that a person is not even aware have been opened. It also aids in the desensitization process. We are told in Scripture to have nothing to do with darkness, and to flee from it. Why then do we think that it is not a problem participate in a New Age practice? 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. " 2 Cor. 14-16

   This woman had some very insightful thoughts into the subject, and while reading her article I came across a startling connection. Having never participated in any form of yoga, it was news to me that "Namaste" was a word common to yoga, usually said at the end of a class, or session, as the teacher and students bow to each other. From this website we get a full definition of the word:

"The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. Nama means bow, as means I, and tenamaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you." To perform Namaste, we place the hands together at the heart charka, close the eyes, and bow the head. It can also be done by placing the hands together in front of the third eye, bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the heart. [...] We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart. One can do Namaste to oneself as a meditation technique to go deeper inside the heart chakra; when done with someone else, it is also a beautiful, albeit quick, meditation."  

   Does the phrase "divine spark" sound familiar? Max Lucado uses it in his book Cure for the Common Life. He shares how there is a divine spark within everyone. He says that "You have one unique gifting. A divine spark. An uncommon call to an uncommon life...." Does this seem coincidental? A little further inspection demonstrates that this was not unintentional. In an end note corresponding to the divine spark reference, Lucado quotes Martin Buber. Buber believes in Hasidic Judaism, which promotes mysticism, and that God permeates all matter with a “divine spark” which may be redeemed to perfection. This is the quote Lucado uses in his end note. 

…Jewish theologian Martin Buber writes: “The world is an irradiation of God, but as it is endowed with an independence of existence and striving, it is apt, always and everywhere, to form a crust around itself.  Thus, a divine spark lives in every thing and being, but each such spark is enclosed by an isolating shell.  Only man can liberate it in a holy manner, that is, so that his intention in doing so remains directed towards God’s transcendence.  Thus the divine immanence emerges from the exile of the ‘shells.’” [42] [emphasis in original]
   Why would Lucado not only use a phrase that is so blatantly mystical, but then go so far as to quote (and thus promote) a man who's teaching is so vastly heretical? To me, that clearly indicates that Lucado agrees with Buber, and thus has embraced false doctrine.
   There is so much more that could be discussed, so I will most likely be doing more posts relating to this topic in the future. But I hope in the meantime that you will be encouraged to be as the Bereans were and test ALL things according to the Word of God. Beware of the deception, it is so pervasive. Don't take my word for any of this, or anyone else's,  do the research yourself. I have several links on my home page to websites that have a lot of information to share on this subject and many more, and I am always adding links to that list. Hopefully those are helpful to you!

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." 1 John 4:1-3


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Catholicism v. Biblical Christianity

   "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1
   In this present age, it seems that there is a lot of confusion, or ignorance on the subject, that Christianity and Catholicism are at the very least compatible. I believe that this is greatly contributing to the deception making it's way through the Church, allowing false doctrines and teachings to creep in, and paving the way for Christians to be accepting of a one world religion. 
   Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are anything but compatible, indeed, I would go so far as to argue that Catholicism is a false religion.  It truly frightens me to see Christians embrace either the religion itself, or aspects of it, some going so far as to welcome some of the beliefs and/or symbols of the Catholic church into their own churches - which is another subject for another day. The article Roman Catholicism Compared to Biblical Christianity does a good job of clearly laying out and enumerating many of the doctrinal differences. It is important to fully understand what these doctrinal beliefs are, in order to be able to discern how much they truly differ from the teachings of Scripture.  Here are a few examples of Catholic doctrine that are defined and explained in the article....

Preface: We Catholics  maintain that the Bible is not the sole source of Christ’s teaching, but that we have a double rule of faith, namely, Bible and Tradition.  Tradition is the sum of revealed doctrine which has not been put down in Sacred Scripture but has been handed down through legitimate pastors of the Church from age to age. 
Expiation (*atonement): The work of expiation continues through the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass for all time. Hence, for us (Catholics), the greatest work of expiation is through the sacrifice of the Mass by which God is placated.
Grace: Grace is lost through mortal sin; it is preserved and increased through prayer and works done under the influence of God, and by means of the sacraments duly received. 
Infallibility: The belief that the pope and bishops are said to be incapable of error when proclaiming definite doctrines involving faith and morals. 
    ...and there are more. These few statements alone should make any Christian cringe. We know that Scripture alone is the infallible Word of God, and that there is nothing that man could add to it, with the Lord clearly warning us not to add to His Word (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 30:5,6). We know that Jesus Christ alone paid the atonement for our sins by dying, once for all (Hebrews 10:10-11, 1 John 2:2). We know that grace is the free gift of God and that there are no amount of words or good deeds in the world that could earn us the favor of the Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9). The doctrines that the Catholic church practices are not "minor" differences such as worship style preferences. They are pretty scary things to say; they are heretical.

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Colossians 2:8-10

   In regards to how the Catholic church is playing a role in bringing about a one world religion, it is clear to see that Pope Francis is hugely encouraging an ecumenical movement. He seems to be focusing on Islam, though not exclusively by any means. This further ecumenical pollution of already muddied waters is alarming to me as I see Christians being slowly desensitized to the religion and the ecumenical movement. I hope you will join me in praying for eyes to be opened to Truth, and warn others of this false religion before it further impacts Christ's church.


*I added this word for clarification