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Archive for August, 2008

I have a link to a prayer site by the youth camp corporation or organization I am concerned about lately.  This certainly doesn’t seem right to me…

http://www.sacredgateway.org/02_default.asp 

If you click through the “prayer guide” a window pops up that tells a definition of God, then has breathing exercises and the like.  This is NOT prayer, but clearly some other practice as it doesn’t even pretend to have a person focus on God but themselves, the sounds around, etc. 

The thing is, the leaders would claim this IS prayer, and this is how to get close to God.  I don’t get it at all…

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Considering my obnoxious side, my desire to be right and following God rightly, I can go very far.  I really love research and to know much.  In this, I can become prideful or forget the gospel itself.  This Slicecast on the link is awesome and speaks to my weakness.

Psalm 1

1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.  5Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

 

 

Thanks Dustin Segers and Ingrid Schlueter

http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/slicecast/2008/08/29/pastor-dustin-segers-a-word-to-christians-online/

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I was on the steering committee of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) in it’s founding year at our old church about six years ago.  I recall being frustrated with the idea that speakers should not mention the Bible often, that talks should not be “preachy.”  I expressed concern about this, and was told women who came to MOPS might not be Christians so we don’t want to drive them away.  Even though I saw the point to a certain extent, I did not like the policy.  The elder woman who spoke often would inevitably share Christ though she always had to tame things down a notch.  She had been a strong Christian all her life, so it just came out no matter what she did.  Now, if you write for MOPS, their webpage warns to write things from a “biblical but not doctrinal perspective.”   “Please avoid Christian jargon and use biblical quotes sparingly.”  To me, this is a dead giveaway that MOPS, though it would seem to be a Christian organization, actually is an organization with some Christian beginnings, and some Christian themes…but it’s not actually Christian.  It’s trying to get away from Christ as the center just like many other churches and organizations are now doing.

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My recent experience with a church focusing on Emergent youth with adult leadership reading Dallas Willard and others has taught me a great deal about this current movement toward meditation in the church.  It is not the same thing as meditation mentioned in the Bible.  First of all, the Bible outright says to meditate on scripture with no lead up or revelation.  In our recent church, we were seeing no outright and open sermons on meditation.  The pastors have not openly discussed the practice.  They have been slowly presenting silence into prayer at church, and have a sign outside the sanctuary requesting silence as people come into the service. The children have been asked to sit silently and think what God has done for them for a period of five minutes or more. Nothing wrong with silence.   Nothing wrong with thinking on God.  However, this is modeled and it’s not explained where it’s leading.   Funny thing too, I’ve noticed pastors saying words like contemplate in ordinary speaking, for example, “as I began to contemplate” so that it’s a word already being used but not in the way it will be in the future.  Of course, mantra meditative prayer is not just walking in alone.  It’s hidden in “spiritual formation” or “spiritual disciplines.”  It’s just one part of a list of disciplines including solitude, silence, frugality, and others.  Each of these are being slowly introduced too.  I really have little problem with people chosing to live a life of frugality, or to be celebate.  If that’s someone’s choice and sacrifice to God, I cannot argue.  However, even these things are being presented slowly and if quotes from the authors are representative, these disciplines are seen as a way to become closer to God and from what I’ve read…they are required for growth.  Eventually, meditation and lectio divina fit into this requirement. 

 Because of the authors promoted by our pastors, like Willard, Miller, Warren, Frost, Steven Smith, etc, it’s evident the church is headed toward contemplative prayer.  Some of these authors have referenced or acknowledged other authors who are into mysticism.  Those acknowledgements can send people reading other books, which eventually lead to people who promote New Age meditation or Buddist/Hindu meditation.  Follow the fruit to the root, and you will see that this current use of meditation has no place in Christian life.  Go ahead, spend time with God and read your Bible, go for a walk and talk to God or think on the scriptures you read in the morning.  But don’t buy into the idea you should basically “do nothing” and empty your thoughts.   If you find yourself repeating a small snatch of a phrase many times in prayer, consider that there are people from other religions doing the exact thing, and they believe in many gods…or even claim to believe in no god.

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Sermons online

I’ve noticed a few things.  First, the one major sermon where the pastor said the strangest things…is still not up on the church web page.  Last weeks sermon is also not up.  Usually, by midweek, the sermon is up with notes.   I really do like to read the notes just to see the progression of where they are headed.  It is a good education for me.  It will help me if a future church begins to head in the same direction.  One woman, who has decided to stay on, had been in Paggitt’s church before it changed.  She began to notice the changes one Sunday while they were singing.  It was nothing anyone did at that time, but she felt God really spoke to her and said, “hey, pay attention, look around.”  She began to do so and was disturbed when she figured it all out.  She said our old church was in the beginning stages of this.  Her hope is that by staying, she can help educate people as to the problems.  I hope it works out for her, as well as others we know who are aware and have chosen to stay.  I am now not a part of that church, and have sent off my final letter.  The only impact I can have now is on any person who wants to know why we left.  I don’t know why I still want to know what’s going on except that I do hope the church turns things around, and of course to prepare for the future in case I have problems like this again.

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I spent a few weeks on the letter to my pastors.  It was one of the most difficult things I have written in that I wanted so much to convey my thoughts and my concerns.  I wanted it to be a warning, and to be specific enough to get the point across.  I wanted the letter to express our family’s love for our church.  My rough draft had too much wishy washyness, I believe.  I filtered the letter through a few people, one was a man who helped by making it less female but he kept the word “feelings” in there and I had to get that out.  This was not a matter of feelings, it was a matter of conviction or truth.  What I feel about something on chruch doctrine doesn’t matter.  What I see that was happening and if it matches up with the truth of scripture does.  In the end, I used the quote from lighthousetrails.com on the last post.  I added a few more.  I pretty much drew a line from my pastor, to Donald Miller, to the New Age movement.  I also added a quote on the definition of missional by Michael Frost from a youtube speech he gave at a conference.  I shared our concerns from this definition that takes the focus of the church off of Christ and puts all energy, and centrality on mission.  I then shared a few confusing things my pastors have said in sermons.  Phrases like “god consciousness” and “wholly other” and “christ coursing through your veins” just don’t come from normal Christian jargon nor from the Bible itself.  It only takes a short Google search to discover them in New Age or other religions.

I also took the advice of one pastor I had spoken to and showed what our church was missing, the Bible.  I used many quotes, and also looked up “preach” on .  It was VERY helpful.  Acs is full of references to preaching.    The early church “preached the word,” “preached the good news of the kingdom” “preached in the synogogues that Jesus is the Son of God” and on and on.  They preached about Jesus, and the kingdom of God and guess what?  Church grew.  That’s the model.  Later, when they had a community built up, they assigned some to be deacons and to serve in the churches to meet the needs of the widows and orphans.  So that is legitimate, the church should have it’s people who preach, it’s people who meet the needs within itself.  As Christians we’re called to do good to our neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison.  This is good too….but now I’m rambling on.  I didn’t include all that in the letter.  I did though list a few Acts references to preach as I feel our pastors spend time on topics/books of men rather than the Bible, the good news of Jesus, etc. 

I also shared my concern with the church being involved in the youth camps/missions in our area.  It’s probably going to be the first time anyone complained about the youth camps.  I did not give references except to say we researched and the leadership of the camps is into meditation in the eastern form.  I think I said enough that the pastors themselves could investigate.  I heard a sermon by the leader himself by podcast, and he outlined several ways to medidate and lectio divina, also using a prayer rope, and praying the Jesus prayer (Christ have mercy) over and over again.  He says he teaches this at his camps, and at one point mentions the numbers of youth I think 25,000 affected by his camps plus 5,000 camp leaders.  I didn’t go into detail, but if I get a call or something I’ll share the link with the pastors so they can know what this man is about.  I do not think anyone will though. 

I feel for my pastor I’ve been talking to.  He is hoping we get some sort of response.  He may not like the response.  This job is his livelyhood, his wife doesn’t work that I know of except maybe for lessons.  He is in a tight spot for sure.  Of course, maybe someone will see it…at any rate I let the pastors know they each had the letter (four of them total…we have many more on staff).  This was calculated.  I want them to be able to openly discuss the letter, and to discuss us as they please.  I want to free them from the worry of gossip and let them share their thoughts.  I also stated in the letter I hoped that it edified the whole body of our church.  If people want to openly talk about this issue, I have no problems.  Our church usually keeps things confidential.  I do not think it’s unhealthy to do this.  But in this instance, so much is so quiet.  We decided to leave, so it’s not harming us…they cannot kick us out for our observations.  We cannot be disciplined.  If we do decide to go back, things will have had to change anyway. 

I feel relief and a bit of anticipation as the pastors will be discussing this soon, I am sure. 

in tags, I’m not sure using the term emergent is off, but I think our church had been growing into one.  I think that’s what Warrenite churches grow into when they grow up a bit (maybe early teen years)…emergent.  Later, they just probably become something else as everything is still in shift.

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Anyone have this feeling?  I wish I was wrong.  I wish I didn’t know what I was talking about.  I am really getting frustrated thinking about how many churches are falling for this falsehood.  All this interconnection.  The Bible says you’ll know them by their fruits.  Wonder if it also applies that you’ll know them by their roots?  (I do not want to write something new into the Bible, so don’t take “know them by their roots” as a Biblical statement…).  Trace the fruit.  You hear your pastor say something about “just say a word while in prayer, say it over and over again but not at all in an eastern meditative way…” during a sermon.  So, you begin to wonder where this is coming from.  I mean, your church went through the 40 days series (is it three books now???) and religiously uses Hybels materials in small group.  Your women go to Beth Moore conferences, and you note your pastor mentions new names.  Campolo, Willard, Donald Miller…every week a new author.  Follow the vines. 

My old pastor positively quotes Donald Miller and in fact used his material for a recent sermon.  www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com has an article that shows what Donald Miller’s roots go down to.  I quote from their page…

“In Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, in the Acknowledgements, Miller thanks New Age meditation proponent Daniel Goleman, who writes books about mantra meditation, Buddhism. He was the editor for Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health

“For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, p. 115 See The New Missiology

Following to the root shows that the plant is not wheat but weeds.  Ugh.

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I remember as a teen, I attended a church in my small town.  We’d have Sunday school in people’s houses, and then have service at church.  We’d discuss topics or bible verses.  I recall we were speaking of end times events, and one hypothetical was, “if someone told you to deny Christ, what would tempt you to do so?”  We talked about the fact that Christians are always persecuted, and there were those who said it would be hard but they think if their own lives were at stake, they’d just have to stand strong.  However, one woman was brutally honest.  She said, “you know, for my own life, I would have no problem dying for Christ.  I would waver though if they killed my kids in front of me.”   You know, I recall that moment as one when I really understood what evil is capable of.  If your weakest link is your children, then it may be your children the devil goes for.  If you fear torture, or something else, that would be likely. 

I recall as telling a college friend I feel someday I could be hiding out with my family because I’m willing to stand up for my faith, and won’t deny Christ.  I also recall saying, the worst would be the time when I’m old and my protests won’t even matter.  They’ll just say I’m senile.  I can hope I will not experience any of this, and maybe I won’t.  However, the day will come when Christians everywhere will be persecuted in larger numbers than ever before.  There are brothers and sisters around the world tonight that are being persecuted and martyred.  Think ahead, think of the thing that might make you falter.  Make up your mind now, just in case you need to be prepared.  Then remember, Christ wins in the end and if you are in Him, you will have a secure future.

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Pepperdine University Bible Lectures go contemplative.  Doesn’t surprise me to hear this as the guest speaker at the church we attended today mentioned taking his daughter to this.  This is reported by Lighthouse Trails Research http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=1190&more=1&c=1.

While you’re at it, if you click on the link below to see that Ravi is rubbing shoulders with some interesting folks.  Hopefully, he’s going to respond to people who contact him positively by either speaking out against contemplative OR he’s going to refuse to speak there AND then he’ll speak out against contemplative. 

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=1189&more=1&c=1

 

Ugh.  Not Ravi.

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Visited a local church this Sunday.  We’ve gone there before, they are a church “plant” of our old church.  I was assured they are independent of the old church.  We’ve gone before and not had too many issues with the sermons.  Since this church is closer to our home by twenty minutes, and services start later, we had an easy morning getting there on time.   It’s a smaller congregation, smaller town, so there’s less materialism in dress.  People do dress up, others are casual, but it’s not the same as the larger church we attended.  Not many had grey hair at the old church, not everyone is like this at this local church.  Songs were a mix of modern and hymn.  I’d say they are a comfortable place to worship, and the pastor is humble.  They do have some signs of having the same themes, but not nearly as strong as the old church.

Today was not good, however.  There was a guest speaker.  His sermon was essentially the Ortberg book.  He told the story of Peter, and yet focused on the other disciples saying they were “boat potatoes” and at least Peter got out of the boat.   Peter’s gift to Jesus was getting out of the boat.  He talked about how we need to reach this generation and they are leaving church because they’re bored, bored, bored.  And, wouldn’t it be awful if all we did every day was take care of our lawn, work, and die?  We need to not be afraid and take risks.  He used a the scripture with the parable of the talents from Matthew 25.  The man who didn’t reproduce the talents was afraid.  He said, he feared the world, life’s problems.    He began to talk excitedly saying something like this, “the man was afraid, this life has many problems, it’s risky out there…the economy’s bad, the gas prices are down…I’m safer at home.”  Okay, look that one up.  The man says he is afraid not because of what’s out in the world, not hiding at home doing nothing.  He hides what his master gave to him because of his fear of the master who was a hard man.  He was afraid of the risk because of the master’s reaction if he lost the talent all together.  The master sees him as lazy and wicked, which may also give insight that the man may have just wasted the time away, wasted the talent because he didn’t want to go and work. 

In the course of the sermon, this man mentioned Ortberg by using his book title (and I bet the perspective from the book, anyone know?).  He also knew Max Lucado, dropped that name right away.  He also mentioned a quote by Tony Campolo. 

My problems with the sermon were that the text was obviously twisted, if even slightly.  This man has obviously been paid to speak and should have his stories fit well with the text of scripture.  The call was partly to energize the youth because they are bored.  If youth are bored in churches that preach the truth, our job is NOT to entertain them, it’s to continue to teach the truth.  This theme was drilled into us by our old chruch, not at all interested in seeing that theme run it’s course again.  The basic message was that we need to get out and do something.  This man doesn’t want any one of us to regret our lives, we should have interesting stories to tell in our old age.  We should do something like go on missions trips, take risks.  Okay, but what if our entire lives are to be JUST raising our family, or being a school janitor?  There are plenty of people who do serve God but their lives aren’t full of large risks.  What of all the families and individuals throughout history that just did ordinary things like taught a Sunday school class?  What of the people who work meals on wheels or become a nurse?  What of those who are faithful to take their children to church and teach them well?  What if they don’t do anything out of the ordinary, but their grandchildren do because of their influence and faithful life?  I’m sure every life will have a human interest story to it, whether good or bad.  That is NOT the point of our lives.  I would rather be a nobody with a nothing story at the end of my life if my God is pleased with me, and says, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  A boring old life with menial labor and ordinary tasks is not a shame.  We are to do what God calls us to do, and if someone shares the gospel where they are planted, serves and gives when they can, and sees fruit from that, who is to say they are not doing it right?  These guys make it seem like we all have to be out doing something extraordinary to please God.  Usually, it’s a story good enough for a sermon or to quote in a book.  Who does this please?  God or men,  hmmm? 

So now the dilemma.  Do we return, do we share our concerns?   I say we meet with the pastor and bring up the concerns we have with the guest speaker. 

On another note, many people have contacted us from the old church wanting to meet…most are in leadership. They want to know why we left.  My husband has a meeting upcoming already.  We shall see what this accomplishes.  For a family the elder said would not be noticed if we left by the pastor in question, we sure are being noticed by several others.  What is wrong with this one pastor?  I believe he will know we’re gone.  Either way, it only matters if God wants him to notice.  Each meeting is another chance to tell someone the truth.  Hopefully something good will come from all these opportunities.  God willing.

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