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by Jeremiah Johnson

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By now it is unlikely that you have not heard of Jesus Calling. That book—a daily devotional by Sarah Young—has sold more than 15 million copies, along with several sequels, children’s storybooks, and mobile apps. Today the Christian world is thoroughly saturated with Young’s writing, as her little devotional has exploded into a phenomenal success.

However, I wouldn’t call it unprecedented success. Christian publishers excel at creating these types of fads. Like its predecessors The Prayer of Jabez and The Purpose-Driven Life, Jesus Calling has managed to find the sweet spot of mass appeal: man-centeredness.

In the case of Jesus Calling, the devotional entries are presented as the actual words of Christ, with Him speaking words of encouragement and hope directly to the reader. Here’s how Young explains it in her introduction:

I have written from the perspective of Jesus speaking, to help readers feel more personally connected with Him. So the first person singular (“I,” “Me,” “My,” “Mine”) always refers to Christ; “you” refers to you, the reader. [1]

Young pushes back against the notion that her book is inspired. But that distinction seems to be nothing more than a semantic façade. Here’s how she describes her writing process:

The following year, I began to wonder if I could change my prayer times from monologue to dialogue. I had been writing in prayer journals for many years, but this was one-way communication: I did all the talking. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God might want to communicate to me on a given day. I decided to “listen” with pen in hand, writing down whatever I “heard” in my mind. [2]

Only Young understands the balance she’s attempting to strike between divine revelation and her own imagination. In that sense, her books have a lot in common with modern prophecy—we’re told to believe they are the words of God without assigning them the authority of the Word of God.

And whether it’s a daily reading from Jesus Calling, an outburst of tongues, or a personal revelation from the Lord, there is a consistent and troubling theme gaining influence in the church today: The Bible is not enough.

In an earlier, unrevised version of Jesus Calling, Young made that point abundantly clear.

I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day (emphasis added). [3]

This desire to hear personally from the Lord is nothing new to the church, but it may be enjoying unprecedented acceptance among God’s people. Lately I hear phrases like “the Lord told me,” “God revealed to me,” and “I heard God say” from a wide variety of Christian ministries—it’s no longer the exclusive territory of the charismatic church.

The truth is God has already said everything He intended to say to us—His Word makes that clear. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible we have is neither incomplete nor inadequate—we already have all the revelation we need from God. As our good friend Justin Peters says, “If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible. If you want to hear Him speak audibly, read it out loud.”

I’ll admit, I don’t fully understand this desire to receive personal messages from the Lord. I’m enough of a Bible student to know that if I did truly hear God’s audible voice, it would likely knock me off my feet, or worse (cf. Matthew 17:5-6; John 18:6).

Instead of chasing special revelation from the Lord, we need to recommit ourselves to the sufficiency and authority of what He has already said. Moreover, we need to consider the special care the Lord took in recording and preserving His Word. As the apostle Peter wrote, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Regarding that passage, John MacArthur writes,

By contrast, true prophecy does not come to mind through psychic intuition or New Age mysticism, and it is not discerned by guesswork. . . . Those who equate their own personal impressions, imaginations, and intuition with divine revelation err greatly. [4]

The great danger of books like Jesus Calling is that they drive a wedge between God’s people and His Word, encouraging them to look beyond the scope of Scripture for additional words from the Lord. In simple terms, they devalue the Bible and elevate emotional experiences and imaginary voices to the level of divine authority. And when anything you hear or feel could be the Lord speaking, you leave yourself open to all sorts of heresy and satanic lies.

God’s people need to be warry of anyone who assumes to speak for Him. We need to defend the authority of His Word against all pretenders. And we need to help shepherd other believers away from the popular desire for special revelation and back to the all-sufficient Word of God.

 From Stand Up for the Truth

Suffering for Truth: When churches force members to leave

Have you ever gone to church leadership because of some alarming things being taught in your church?

As the Great Falling Away continues in our beloved church communities, it seems that even those who once were thought “solid” are not immune to the yeast of false teachings and rogue leadership bent on silencing concerns.  It may have happened to you.

A friend of mine allowed me to re-publish her testimony on our site, and it’s one that might stir a lot of emotions for many of you. What happened to her and her family is very sad, but what her family is doing now serves as a tale and a trend you are going to be hearing a lot more about in the year ahead.

Family

Suffering for the Truth     By Jenna Guerette           (Originally published at Truth or Trend)

Ever since I was a child, I always found it important to stand up for the truth.  I’m talking about the truth that is only found in Scripture.  My childhood church turned emergent during the 1990’s.  I noted that something was wrong right away.  My family had held on there for years because of our friendships that we had there.  We knew that if we left we would lose them.  (Sounds like great friends eh?)  I was only taught Arminian doctrine.
Eventually, there was a complete exodus of most of the members of this church.  The next church my family attended went emergent and word of faith.  I didn’t know these terms back then.  I just knew something was wrong.  During my time at this church, I got married and had my daughter.  My parents and siblings continued to attend along with us.  One Sunday the pastor of the church announced that any who disagreed with the direction of the church could find their way to the nearest exit.  He said that he was leading the congregation south and we were welcome to head north.  Not surprisingly, we left that church.
My husband and I were left extremely discouraged.  We decided to try a church that a family friend had recommended.  Once we attended there, it was like a breath of fresh air.  The pastor preached from God’s Word.  He spoke out against Rick Warren, The Secret, Oprah, and The Shack.  He taught us about the errors of the Emergent Church , mysticism, and contemplative prayer.  For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged to a church family.  My husband, my parents, and I got involved in the church.  Our pastor introduced us to “The Way of the Master.”  My husband began an evangelism ministry that was fully supported by our church.  He and a number of other men went to the “Ambassador’s Academy.”  Every Friday night they would go out and share the gospel.  This ministry was thriving.  We had friends, ministries we loved, and the truth from the pulpit.  Life was great!
After being at the church for a number of years, things began to change.  Our pastor became cold and distant.  He took a six month sabbatical and wrote a book.  His wife (who called me frequently) became inaccessible.  The church had an elders’ board.  This was a unelected board.  The men on the board simply appointed new elders.  The head elder was always one of two men.  No others on the board would ever have this position. Our pastor became known as a “teaching elder.”
Strange things began happening.  The evangelism ministry was called into question.  The elders wanted the open-air preaching to stop.  Apparently, there were some complaints from our community about this ministry.  The men in the ministry were adhering to all the laws and bylaws for our community.  This was just persecution.  An executive decision was made by the elders to dissolve the evangelism ministry.  The people in the ministry could still go out and witness but they could not use the church’s name when witnessing.  They were to be completely separate from the church.
Around this time, a group named “Life Action Ministries” came to our church.  Prior to them coming, they sent a promoter.  It was kind of like what the circus would do in the old days.  Believe me, this was no less of a circus.  One of the men that came, spoke in detail about an adulterous affair he had had while on a business trip.  He credited “Life Action Ministries” with reviving him.  The whole thing was carefully scripted to elicit emotion from the congregation.  I knew that something was wrong with this ministry.
When their team visited our church eight weeks later, I was astounded.  They used every method of Charles Finney to manipulate the congregation.  They also endorsed Keswick Theology.  They believed that each Christian had to reach a crisis moment in their life.  At this point of crisis, they could achieve a second blessing or filling of the Holy Spirit.  The main speaker admitted that he had these revivals down to a “science.”  He took many verses out of context in order to achieve his goals.  Microphones were set up at the front of the church so that people could go and confess their sins openly to the congregation.  People were told to write down their idols on Styrofoam cups.  They were then to come to the front of the church and crush these cups with their feet.
A cursory look at the website of “Life Action Ministries” revealed that they had no problem with mysticism.  They had numerous books for sale.  Including those by Henry Blackaby, Priscilla Shirer, Jim Cymbala, Gary Thomas, and Mark Batterson.   They also quoted Catholic mystics such as Henri Nouwen and Brother Lawrence.  Here is a link to their beliefs – http://www.lifeactionministries.ca/about/.  Through two visits to my church they raked in about $62,000.  This ministry has long tentacles.  They are involved in the SBC, Moody, and The True Woman Movement.
This ministry received a cult-like following at my church.
The women in my church decided to attend a True Woman Conference in 2012.  As I looked at the list of speakers, I became alarmed.  Priscilla Shirer was one of the speakers.  I’ve already outlined the problems with this woman in a previous blog post.  I contacted the True Woman organization regarding my concerns with this speaker.  I was told that this conference wasn’t for a woman like me.  I also brought my concerns to my pastor ( teaching elder) and the head elder.  They weren’t going to stop the women from attending but they would go over what mysticism was with them.  They appeared annoyed that I’d brought this to their attention.
Unfortunately, I soon learned that the women in my church were reading “Jesus Calling” and “1000 Gifts.”  I discovered that the church library had books by Henry Blackaby and Richard Foster.  I became alarmed.  I brought my concerns to my pastor.  I was told that he and the elders couldn’t police the church.  They had too many strings on their violin to deal with it.  If I kept bringing disunity to the church then I would find myself in a home church.   I also tried to ask questions about Tim Keller and John Piper.  Both of these men do not believe in a literal six day creation.  They were constantly being quoted by our assistant pastor.  I wanted some clarification about what to do with this errant belief.  My pastor – teaching elder- told me to have grace for this error.  He also hoped that I would have grace if he ever “fell.” My husband, family, and I were puzzled by these words.  My Mom and I had used Facebook to try to warn the women of the church about Priscilla Shirer and to bring attention to these mystical books.  We soon found out that this was unappreciated.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2013 my family was kicked out of our church.  My husband and I were not present that day.  My husband had to work and I was home with our son who was sick.  My husband had been trying for 8 months to be able to meet with the elders board regarding the evangelism ministry.  They were still against open air preaching and my husband wanted them to show him from Scripture where it was wrong.  Instead the elders used a back door approach to get rid of us.  They decided to kick my parents out.  Three elders surrounded my parents.  My daughter and brother were present.  They did this in a back pew at the end of a service so that everyone could see it.  They told my parents that they were no longer welcome to worship with them.
One elder expressed that his wife would miss my children.  The elders didn’t like us warning the flock on Facebook.  Facebook wasn’t to be used as an outreach or for evangelism.  They were also appalled that my Mom had shared a sermon by John MacArthur about the seven year tribulation.  Our pastor – teaching elder- had his own, very original thoughts regarding the end times.  We were to accept these and no other teachings.  Also, the head elder expressed three times that he had no problem with lectio divina, contemplative prayer, and mysticism.  He also expressed that the church was going with “Life Action Ministries.”  He acted aggressively towards my parents.  He yelled at them saying, “Do you think you’re smarter than me?”  Our pastor – teaching elder- was out in the hallway.  He was waiting for their report.  Finally, the horrible interview ended.  These elders had the audacity to end it in a prayer about unity.  They mumbled something about an official meeting where my parents could plead their case.  Unfortunately, they neglected to give the time and place.  As of this writing, my parents have heard nothing from any elder or leader from our former church.
We were absolutely stunned.  I walked around like I was in a fog.  My husband was working 14 hr. days, 7 days a week.  I received 2 calls from the youth pastor of the church.  Each one, I let go to the answering machine.  I was in shock.  I sat down to write a letter.  I put nine hours into it.  Everything I said was backed up with proof.  My husband and I sent it to our elders and a few selected friends.  The only letter we received back from the elders was one full of personal attacks.  What we said was true but our tone was critical.  We were also told that we were responsible for the loss of numerous friendships for our children.  I was stunned.
The next Sunday, a congregational meeting was held.  They stated that my family hadn’t been kicked out.  Bits of my letter were read out of context.  A man who had eaten numerous dinners in our home, slandered my Mom and myself in front of the church.  A trusted friend told me what happened at this meeting.  All in all, the meeting was a complete snow job.  It was my family’s word against the elders.  The elders were anointed by God.  How could they be wrong?
Since this horrible event, we have tried another church in our community. At this church, we were frozen out.  Apparently, they had heard our story from the elders at our former church.  They made sure to make us feel unwelcome.  We also experienced errant teaching while we were there.   Finally, we couldn’t handle their unkindness towards us any longer.  So we decided to start a home church.
Another couple who had also been kicked out of our former church began joining us.  They were dismissed for Facebook infractions as well.  Each Sunday we meet in our home to sing and listen to a sermon podcast.  We also share in communion.  It has been a time of growth.  We have learned so much about doctrine.  We’d never been taught doctrine at all.  We were always told that it was divisive.  Finally, we understand doctrine.
I’m hoping that through sharing this that I can get over the trauma.  Perhaps some of you have experienced this type of abuse.  That is all I can call it – abuse.
Romans 8:18 ” For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

From The End Time

 

Gnosticism part 1: secret knowledge

Yesterday I introduced a new series on Gnosticism. I’m reading Colossians, which was a prison letter from Paul to the church at Colossae. Paul was responding to Epaphras’ news that the new Colossian believers were being quickly turned away from the faith by people who believed a different Gospel. What was that different Gospel? It was from the Gnostics, a group of cultish believers plaguing the church throughout the First Century, (and the second and third) and popping up here and there throughout the centuries since. Today, there is a resurgence of Gnostic belief encroaching and polluting even our fundamentalist churches among the Southern Baptist Convention. In other words, Gnosticism is a continual problem that never really went away.The Tribulation is a time when all sins will be released for their fullest iniquity. The Holy Spirit’s ministry of restraint will be taken out of the way, and all sins, spiritual and carnal, will explode onto the earth. We see the setting for this coming explosion now. All false doctrines that have ever plagued the church are rising to the fore, all at once. We are battling Gnosticism, Mysticism, Liberalism, Post-Modernism, Legalism, Ecumenism, Prosperity Gospel, and much more. Jesus’s Seven Letters to the Seven Churches contained in Revelation 2-3 are a listing of some of the false doctrines and behavioral failings the early believers were falling prey to. Those false doctrines and behaviors hinder us now.

Zondervan’s NIV bible lists 6 elements that comprise Gnosticism. They are not exclusive, as Gnosticism has several branches and many different elements can be said to comprise the philosophy. In addition, several other false doctrines overlap Gnosticism, such as Mysticism and Legalism, for example. But for the sake of brevity (sort of) we will stick with the Zondervan 6. They are:

1. secret knowledge,
2. asceticism,
3. depreciation of Christ (lowering Him in name and in glory),
4. strict rule-keeping, ceremonies, or rituals
5. worship of angels,
6. and reliance on human wisdom and traditions

Today we will take a look at the element of “secret knowledge”.

David Grabbe wrote in “Whatever Happened to Gnosticism?” that “Gnosticism was the predominant source of heresy when the New Testament was written. The books of John, I Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, Jude, and I John all combat various elements of Gnosticism. Even the book of Revelation cites a couple of Gnostic beliefs and practices, referring to “know[ing] the depths of Satan” and “the Nicolaitans” (Revelation 2:6, 15, 24).”

Gene Edward Veith wrote in World Magazine in this 2006 article “The Return of the Cainites,” “The Gnostics were eastern mystics who taught that the physical realm is intrinsically evil and that the spirit can be freed from its bondage to physicality through the attainment of secret knowledge (or “gnosis”). They rejected the Christian doctrine of creation (saying that the material world is evil). They denied the incarnation (saying that Christ was a spiritual being who brought the secret knowledge and denying that He became “flesh”). And they denied the redemption (saying that sin is not a moral failure – since what we do in the flesh does not affect our spirits – but simply a lack of spiritual knowledge).”

Jennifer Trafton and Rebecca Colossanov wrote in “Gnostics: Did you Know?” that “The Gnostics sometimes claimed that secret truth had been handed down by one apostle to a select group of insiders. But Christian opponents like Irenaeus argued that the true church represented the teaching of all of the apostles passed on in many locations.”

The word “Gnosticism” comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means “knowledge.” Gnosticism rejects the doctrines of original sin, human depravity and salvation through the substitutionary death of Christ. It emphasizes transcendence through inward, intuitive knowledge, i.e., “gnosis,” of the “divine spark in each individual.” (source)

Finish Article HERE

Source: The End Time

http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/

The church is rapidly accepting occult, channeled books as divinely inspired

Here is a definition of automatic writing, or spirit writing from the Free Dictionary,

Writing performed without conscious thought or deliberation, typically by means of spontaneous free association or as a medium for spirits or psychic forces.

Automatic writing is the process, or product, of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer. It differs from inspired scripture in that in inspired scripture,

The process of inspiration was not a mechanical dictation where the apostles heard a voice and wrote down what they heard. Nor does it mean that they went into some sort of a trance and God wrote through them without their knowledge. Instead, the writers were free to write what they wanted as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the writings reflect the personality and style of the various writers. Yet, the personality and style of the writers did not degrade the quality or authority of the biblical writing.(source)

Automatic writing is Ouija Board with a pen. Some of the more remarkable things about automatic writing is that the people through which these written products emerge describe a very similar experience. No matter which millennia or decade they participate in their writings, they describe similar sensations, similar feelings, and the same process. Where I quote their descriptions of their own process, I put in bold type the similar phrases they use to describe it.

You would be surprised at how many people have produced written works of novel, poetry, plays and even music by this occult process. It is an old, old practice. I suppose because fascination with the “other side” by pagans is also a constant throughout time. It is a fascination for the Christian, too, but we are fortunate to have THE authoritative and perfect, inerrant, infallible bible. It is God’s revelation of Himself to us, and it in its entirety is profitable for reproof, correction, training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16).

For those without a relationship with God and an inability to understand the bible, they still long for eternity. So they seek it anyway, but unknowingly through satan.

Finish article HERE

This is an excellent article. There is a flood of  “Christian” books that in truth lead people away from The Bible and instead lead them into a ditch.

‘Let them alone, they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.  Matthew 15:14

Please take the time to carefully read this information. Maybe print it out and get a cup of coffee. Pray.

*******

Is Deception Calling? A review of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Source HERE 

Steak and a Bible

Just the other day I posted that Christians should be wary of God “experiences.” Although there are many prominent promoters of practices that claim to be ways to hear directly from God (other than by reading the Bible), it is my fear that these are really paths toward self-deception or worse.

As a follow up I’d like to share my thoughts about a book whose author purports to have received messages from God (which she turned into a bestselling book).

A couple months ago I was given a devotional book called Jesus Calling, and although I never read devotionals I began to examine the book. What I found shocked me. The author, Sarah Young, claims to have received revelations from Jesus through dialogue journaling (something she learned from two “listeners” who wrote another book called God Calling. I’ll get to that in a minute). Her book is even written as if Jesus is speaking those messages directly to the reader, which I personally think borders (or crosses into) blasphemy.

Alarm bells began to clang in my head.

Finish 

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