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Posts Tagged ‘contemplative prayer’

This really sounds similar to what I have gone through. However, I think my former church is steps behind this and may have pulled back into the shell. They plan to be “not emergent” but I believe they will go with spiritual disciplines and contemplative prayer full force one day.

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs019/1101818841456/archive/1102354700732.html

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Moving on in this electronic world is hard.  It’s hard not to listen online, hard not to see people people online either.  We have chosen to leave our former church, but so far the issue hasn’t left us.  When I was overheard, this prompted a call to the pastor and a call to us (I assume it was me as I can think of where I would have been and who I was with…when I was speaking openly in public).  His statement is that the church has denounced emergent and is not headed in an emergent direction.  He says we base our information on a few sermons by a different pastor.  He also says they let go of one youth pastor, but though “we talked about Nooma videos he showed” (which we never did talk about and we weren’t aware) he wanted us to be discreet about that and thought we discussed that discreetness…uhmmmm.  We never had that conversation and thank you for proving our point.  Noomas in the youth is another sign of clear emergent leanings.  Oh, and the pastor says they let several staff members go because of financial reasons, not for the Noomas.  So they may have confronted emergent verbally, but do they see it in their staff?  Pastor claims “emergent” is dying.  Well, the terms may have changed, but the shift of churches is not dying. 

To his credit, his sermons do use scripture very much.  I don’t think Rick Warren is the same as Doug Pagitt.  I do not think Dallas Willard is the same as McLaren.  I do believe they are on a similar path, to change church and to focus on emergent youth OR on self and disciplines from Catholic mystics.  This may not be emergent.  I see other authors label it something else, contemplative something or other…maybe it’s contemplative spiritual disciplines.  To be clear, the church we attended hasn’t come out with contemplative prayer.  It has come out with spiritual formation.  This term alone links back to monks in caves hundreds of years ago.  These monks chanted and used breathing techniques as well as repetition to “meditate.”  Requirements of silence, fasting, and the like for a supposed deeper relationship with God are part of this spiritual discipline thing, as well as spiritual formation.  If the church has a spiritual formation pastor, and plans on lectio divina (as spoken by the pastor’s own mouth) and wants to follow the plans of Dallas Willard, and impliments “moments of silence” often, calls people to fast (not wrong to fast by the way, but it’s part of a larger picture here) then they are part of a movement that is not Biblical.  Focusing on this for spiritual transformation, methods and means not practiced by the disciples themselves.  I would say choosing to be disciplined is not a bad thing.  Saying you need it for deeper relationship with Christ is not accurate.  Discipline can make our Christian lives easier, can make memorization easier, and can help us to start our day in prayer.  Altering breathing, sitting in silence with no activity, these things are strange and unbibical in the context of trying to get closer to God.  Making an effort to give a sacrifice to God in our day is not wrong, as long as we realize our sacrifices are not worthy but God is gracious and merciful and can be pleased by us if we are humble and contrite (which cannot be manufactured).  Service is also a part of the spiritual formation movement.  Service in Christian life in itself is good.  However, service as a way to “get closer to God” is not.  I believe what is wrong with spiritual formation is it’s all flipped.  Service for others flows FROM the compassion we gain in Christ.  We are first made new creatures.  We have to recognize we still have a sin nature.  At any rate, our pastors from our former church were heavy into the spiritual formation books, mostly Dallas Willard. 

The one pastor who was most obvious in his sermons doesn’t make the head pastor bat an eye.  He sees no scary connections when Frost, Miller, and others are quoted.  He doesn’t even ruffle when he’s told about the “christ conciousness” or “christ coursing through my veins” or “you are little christs.”  He even defended the “little christ” comment.  He mentioned lectio divina, he defended Dallas Willard and suggested we read his books.  He defended the teaching by Steve Smith when he visited the church…the teaching that Lazarus had grave clothes and our grave clothes are life’s trials and burdens.  This teaching was strange, and bothered me a great deal and the pastor mentioned lectio divina after these stating, “it’s been around since the reformation.”  

Another pastor we spoke to said if our former church has denounced emergent doctrine and that was our complaint, we couldn’t leave then.  Well, we may not have brought out we don’t agree with following Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and we may have only mentioned Dallas Willard, but our issue is with these things too.  We also feel, and it’s hard to define exactly, but that the lead pastor is manipulative and really makes me personally nervous.  Anyone who knew we were having a meeting with the man said, “good luck.”  He is intimidating.  This alone is a red flag of warning.  In general, people give the impression they don’t really feel safe with him or may feel he’s overbearing.  Don’t know if I can pin it down.  I know I personally have been friendly to him, he’s been friendly back.  He just seems much like a man trying to proove something.  I have met men like him, if I were in single land (before marriage) I would have known two things.  This man would never choose someone like me to date, and I would never choose him.  I feel like he’d be a guy who I would fight with.  I feel like I’d be expected to act a certain way in the home.  He’s not necessarily someone who oppresses women, don’t get me wrong.  I just get that feeling when around some men, that I wouldn’t mix with him.  Usually these guys are driven and goal oriented, intelligent.  However, they seem to be demanding and perfectionistic.  It’s not authority, it’s something else.  Now this is just speculation on my part…please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying he’s a bad man or anything, just most people don’t say he’s sweet. 

Oh, see, I’ve titled this “moving on” and I cannot move on.  That is my problem.  I have got to find a way to get this out of me, let it go.  How do you let go when you think a church is being led in the wrong direction?

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My husband and I have been speaking with a friend who sees exactly what we see in terms of emergent/seeker friendly/contemplatives/Warrenite/Hybels and others as a problem.  He also asks some good questions. “When and why might it be necessary to completely disassociate with particular groups?   Or when could one still associate to some degree, but with discernment?”

Any thoughts?

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I am finding it interesting that every time we bring up the new age/emergent or contemplative prayer issues with certain people in our former church we often get denial.  Then we get the comments about how “it’s your perception that matters” and “you have to do what’s best for your family.”  Interpret these statements as “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” because that is what is meant.  People don’t like conflict, it’s evident that our former church leaders don’t want to think about conflict.  Many don’t want to think about the truth either.  They won’t do the basic research, or they’ll trust internally the comments of others and won’t look it up for themselves.  I found it so frustrating when I was first realizing things were going on, I would ask around.  I felt I got flimsy answers.  People trust the elders and pastors and believe they will have looked into this.  Though the emergent church is in our area, some of the pastors’ and elders’ children attend an openly emergent church…and the youthcamp has an emergent church leader/author getting known nationally, and the church has people on staff at both places, most didn’t even know what emergent church is.  Pastors and leaders strongly deny a problem.  We have never been so bold as to say outright the former church is emergent, but have pointed out the elements. 

Some saw the elements emergent.  However, we were cautioned not to worry about Rick Warren/Hybels as they certainly weren’t the same. You know, it’s true, they aren’t the same.  One elder did say things are on a continuum, and I believe that may be the case with Warren/Hybels and the seeker friendly stuff.  They are like marijuana, Rob Bell is meth.  I think Dallas Willard is in there somewhere, maybe speed?  Some authors are ecstasy.  I don’t know the true effects of drugs to make this analogy work well.  However, either way, these different authors and leaders can lead one to another.  I think actually once you go down the path a bit with these guys, it’s harder to go back to the lighter ones.  In fact, I am sure Bell and Warren actually don’t agree with one another and may dislike each other’s church models.  They have something in common though.  It’s contemplative prayer, it’s deconstructing church as it was and reconstructing it differently.  It’s mishandling of scripture as means to an end.  This is the common ground.  This is the genius of deception.  No one realizes where a 40 Days of Purpose campaign can go in the long run, in five years or so.  No one knows that their pastor has been trained how to deal with resisters.  No one realizes their suggestions will come off as sin (because resisting change is one of the things thou shalt not). 

Our former pastor denies the church is emergent and they’ve even spoken out against it.  Okay, but as one friend pointed out, they’re “not NOT emergent.”  They are influenced  by things emergent.  Noomas in small group, the youth camp, the leaders’ children going to an emergent church, the preaching from some pastors with blatant quotes of emergent leaders all point to the influence.  We were so blind to it, but thats because in our small group we tried to run it like a Bible study.  That’s because we worked with out kids in Awana and Sunday School classes and we taught them the gospel and the truth of the accounts given.  It’s also because we didn’t realize the language used in sermons has a double meaning.  We were being deceived even if it wasn’t intentional.  The pastors slowly present things to get the church further down the path to contemplative prayer (watch out, I think it’s coming to many of your churches out there).  It’s so slow, so subtle.  If you are having silence without a call to prayer, your church may already be in it.  We were at first being deceived, and then the questions came to our minds.  Later we were in denial.  Once we could no longer be in denial, we knew we had to decide.  Stay or go.  Also, how were we to function if we stayed?  We told some, we decided it would be wrong to keep our mouths shut.  We prayed, we spoke to elders.  We got resistance to change.  Finally, we decided to go and spoke to one pastor and he saw the emergent (but not the Hybels/Warren issues as a problem).  He suggested the letter, and suggested the open and frank way we wrote it.  He didn’t want us to leave, he wanted to fix the church through our loving confrontation of the issues.  We sure tried.  However, the pitbull pastor wouldn’t hear it.  He did hear some things, but mostly, he heard us attack him. 

So, now we are free.  It’s so tempting to believe we can change things.  Change can only come if hearts are soft.  God knows what He is doing.  We prayed, we did what we thought we were led to do.  After that, it’s not up to us.

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For God alone, my soul waits in silence…

http://www.frbaptist.org/bin/view/Ptp/PtpTopic20060414133853

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Is this old news?  I have a friend who has an online journal who posts devotionals from In Touch Ministries.  I’ve been noticing references to “quiet” and other comments leading me to think it’s contemplative.  Just check out todays devotional for yourself.

http://www.intouch.org/site/c.dhKHIXPKIuE/b.2383055/k.29A5/Early_Light_Devotional__In_Touch_Ministries/apps/nl/newsletter.asp

The advice in the devotional tells it’s readers to “”quiet your spirit” and listen to God.  Where in scripture are we told to “quiet your spirit?”  What could he possibly mean by this? 


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I believe the church is splintering for a reason.  Something is up.  It’s not just fights about carpet color either, it’s about whether or not prayer styles being brought in to church are of eastern root and are biblical or not.  It’s about whether churches should follow plans of men like Warren, Hybels and if they should follow men like Pagitt or Maclaren.  Are authors like Dallas Willard leading us to a closer relationship with God or into works based faith and pagan practice?  It seems like there is a lot of fuzziness in Christianity, a lot of cirlces and rings that overlap.  Some churches are just beginning to use these authors, and preach these methods. 

 

In congregations everywhere on Sunday (and Saturday for some) warnings are popping up in the heads of believers.  Did the pastor just say that?  Really?  Is that what he meant?  What is this new program?  Who is this author?  How annoying to hear quote after quote.  How annoying, we’re using this term again this week, didn’t we have a sermon over this five weeks ago?  I sure wish we’d do a verse by verse study for a change.  Does this passage really mean what he says it means?  What do they mean I need to practice this way?  Is that works?  Did they forget something, like we need to repent? 

All over Christians are finding themselves lost in the church.  What is going on?  Why do we feel like we don’t belong anymore?  We cannot always put a finger on it, but something is wrong.

Then there is the other side.  Some of us have figured it out, and we float from church to church.  We are no longer trusting of men’s tongues.  We know that when you ask questions, things can be worded in a way that is meant to cause you to stop asking questions about the church and begin asking questions about yourself, your loyalty, your obedience, your willingness to change.  We find common ground online with people we do not know, or with distant friends who have gone through this and share a letter or email about their experiences.  Pastors have preached strange doctrines, new things have come up, or grandparents pushed out because they wouldn’t reach the youth.  Church changed quickly and when people asked what was up, and began to point out error, they were ushered out the door.  Some were encouraged to stay a while, but were told their decision to leave was good because they were no longer teachable, no longer with the plan.  “It’s your perception that matters really, so going to a new church where your family is comfortable is best.” 

So now, these people have to watch out for evil in their own approach.  Do they broadcast the problems to the world?  Do they share what they know in public?  Pride may creep in, and these folks have to watch for it.  It’s possible a reactionary church splinter may come off of this. 

It is easy to get trapped and tripped in a “we’re better than them.”  If *they* are telling lies, and are spreading false Christianity, we are still no better.  We are all sinners.  However, how do we approach this without sinning?  We must speak the truth in love.  We must share the Gospel, we must warn others of the dangers.  We must watch for evil that wants so much to make us ineffective.  The world is watching, the church is watching both apostate and true.  Our children are watching.  We need to proceed with wisdom.  Our mouths need to say what God would have us to say, no more, no less.  This is so hard.  If ever we needed to pray, to be close to our God, the time is now.  Draw near to Him, dear saints, draw near.

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