To Please Men, or To Please God?

I’d like to have a little heart to heart talk:

Pleasing Men, or Pleasing God?

When some of you get the information I send out to my email list, or if you read it on my blog, do some of you reflexively say to yourself: oh no, not again, why is he stirring up the waters?  Why is he causing me to get upset because my favorite preacher or Christian book writer is being criticized?  How can Manny say that about someone who I admire so much?  When you read my emails and posts,do you at least consider the information and prayerfully think about it?  Has it ever been disturbing enough that you wanted to call me, or write me, and ask me to explain what I have written?  I always pray that if I offend one of my friends with my postings, that they can talk to me privately and express their concern to me instead of keeping it to themselves and perhaps staying angry at me.

My question for you today: Is your goal always to please God, or do you sometimes try to please men or women at the risk of displeasing God? I suggest that if your goal is to truly please God, rather than men, then what I suggest that you could do with my postings, is to at least prayerfully consider it, and if necessary, ask additional questions, or do some more research.  If my warnings to you sound too crazy to be true, do you then wonder if I am crazy, or over-reacting to something that is not serious, or perhaps obsessed, or do you wonder if there may be something there?

My desire is to always please God first. It is not always an easy decision to make.  What I started doing since last year, including my blog, was not an easy decision.  I could just be going along to get along right now, with no one taking offense, keeping my concerns to myself.  My decision was made with the realization that I was not always going to please every person who read my postings.  I risked not only getting friends upset at me, but family as well.  Perhaps even my wife.  And believe me, no man who really loves his wife, wants to ever get her upset, at least intentionally.  But even my wife has to take a back seat to God.  I must please God even above her. (I am thankful that she gives me her full support on this).

Let’s look at what Paul said in Galatians 1:10:

  • For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

That’s simple enough without a need for “interpretation”, as the vast majority of the Bible speaks plainly enough and is not open to “various” interpretations.  If I find myself trying to please others over God, I am not truly serving Jesus Christ.  Hard words.

It is interesting to note the preceding verses that led him to say this:

  • 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
  • 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Again it’s interesting how Paul repeats what he said for emphasis.  There may be other passages in the Bible like this, but it’s the only one I know that is repeated like this.  I believe that one of the reasons he did this was that perhaps he knew that what he said in verses 8 and 9, could bring such a strong, negative reaction from many readers.  By saying what he said in verse 10, this is part of the message I believe he is sending:

  • “this is so serious, that I knew some of you would dislike how strongly I have put this.   You know what, though, friends?  I would love to please all of you, but this is too serious to really worry about that.  I care too much for you to say this any other way.  I would prefer pleasing God, and losing friendship with all of you, rather than not telling you the truth.  Whenever truth needs to come out, I will speak it, at whatever risk to me there is to be.  So there is no room for any other gospel, no matter how nice it sounds.”

You see, this is why I do what I am doing.  There are many others out there like me; many of them a lot more articulate, a lot more learned in the scriptures, and perhaps with more time to be able to research and expose the apostasy and heresy that is infiltrating the Christian denominations, universities and seminaries, including my own denomination.  (More to come later on this).

This is not a game we are playing.
This is not being done to cause strife or division, just for the sake of causing strife or division.  This is eternal life at stake for many people. Eternal life is at stake for those who are not Christians, but who might get roped in by a false gospel and believe they are Christians, when they have never had a chance to repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness, and actually get to know the real Jesus.  For Christians, they are in  danger of falling for dangerous, non-biblical practices being ushered in by the New Agers and the heretical Emergent church movement.  The false leaders of these movements seem to think that they are the new enlightened ones, and that 2000 years of orthodox Christianity has all been wrong.  How foolish!

  • Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!

Do not mistake what we are doing out here for anything other than all out war against the powers of darkness. The Emergent church high priests, the New Agers, the churches of Oprah and Schuler, and many others, have an agenda to subvert the very authority of the Word of God.  They have a universalist agenda as well, deceiving many into believing that there are many ways to God, or that all somehow are following Jesus, regardless of what religion they practice.  They want to associate and work with any and all religions in whatever cause there is that might seem right, even though we are admonished to “do not be unequally yoked with non-believers”.

They will argue with us that “the Word of God is really Jesus, not a book.  So stop idolizing that book, and get to know Jesus”. I have heard these arguments, and they are false, and deceiving, or just plain unintelligent.  I have had to stop responding to many of these people, because of their silly arguments that don’t use scripture to back them up.  They prefer to use their own reasoning, since they do not respect the authority of God’s Word, but in their wisdom proclaim that it is just a collection of stories from the past.  If  my father were still here to listen to all the “fables” that they invent, it would not go over well with him.  He was a real gospel preacher who never compromised with anyone.

Once the authority of God’s Word is undermined, you may as well pack up and leave.  You may as well become a Buddhist who follows Jesus.  In fact, why not be an agnostic who follows Jesus?  Have you noticed that many emergents are calling themselves “Christ-followers” and do not like using the word “Christian?”.  Yes, that’s it.  A Christ-follower can be someone from another faith following what Jesus did, but never has to leave their own faith!  Isn’t that what Brian McLaren suggested?  See article at LightHouse Trails Research on “Christ-followers”.

  • Colossians 2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
  • Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

There is a great lesson based on the book of Hosea that I read several months back, by a preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs, who wrote it back in the 1600’s.  It’s called “Plead With Your Mother”.  I came upon it remarkably on the same day I was wrestling with the very question of  “what should I do, who should I warn, or should I stay silent?”
(You can read it at: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/12/plead-with-your-mother-plead.html)

We are pleading with the various denominations we belong to, to look at themselves and see what has gone wrong. Do not let yourself continue to be at risk and become part of the great apostasy, or falling away, that is coming.

Use the Bible as your guide, and see what needs to be removed from that body, before the cancer spreads so badly it cannot be eradicated. If some new practice comes along, see if it comports with the scriptures.  Men in their vanity will often come up with new ways of “doing Christianity” which are not based on sound doctrine.

Consider those of us laboring on this out here as “humble” physicians who have spotted a cancer, and rather than negligently wait until it has spread all over, we now are pointing out the cancer and asking you to join us in attending to the body of Christ before the cancer spreads even more and “kills” more.  The danger here, of course, is not physical death, but spiritual death.

Prescription number 1: Trust in God and His Word, and throw out anything that does not line up with the Word of God.
Prescription number 2: Don’t trust your feelings, or the words of men, without “testing the spirits”; again, trust the Word of God.  It will never fail you!
Prescription number 3: Did I already say this?…. Ground yourselves in the Word of God!  :-)

In humble service to the one true God and the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who overcomes.

Manny

Contending for the faith…

Loving the Feeling: Mysticism in the Church

Sometimes you have to do a gut check as a Christian, and make sure your emotions don’t get the best of you.  Although emotions are not necessarily a bad thing, they can cloud our judgment and fool us into thinking something is real and true when it might be just the opposite.  Be very careful with your emotions when it comes to matters of Christian living and experience.  Always go back to the Word of God for confirmation.
Emotions can be a big letdown when the feeling goes away.  God’s Word, on the other hand, is ALWAYS reliable, true, and yes… inerrant.  Praise God that we can trust His Word at all times!

Here is a  message on that topic from a brother in Christ across the ocean:

Yomi Adegboye: www.pressingforthecrown.org

Loving The Feeling: Mysticism In The Church

The Gospel that Jesus proclaimed and passed on to us through the apostles was (and still is) one based totally on cold hard facts. It was a gospel that had nothing to do with how you felt about anything. When that Gospel was preached, it slew men. Then it gave them a new, different life.

But years went by and gradually certain false brothers crept in to twist this Gospel of our Lord. The shift and modifications were not major, and so they went undetected for years.

Now, several thousand years later, the popular false gospel of our day is a gospel based on feelings and experiences. Let us look at one popular example:

Cold Hard Fact: “Where two of you are gathered, there I am in the midst of you”.
The New Gospel: “When I walked into that meeting, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in that place. I knew God was there”.

In truth, the above statement that seeks to verify whether the Lord is present in a place or not by feelings or by an experience is a serious expression of deep sin: the sin of unbelief. People who do this do not believe our Lord. They have no faith in His words.

The development and growth of the Pentecostal movement has produced generations of professing Christians who live by feelings and experiences instead of by absolute faith in God’s word. They live by subjectivity instead of by the inerrant word that has been handed down to us.

So, how do we know that the Holy Spirit is at work? When we feel a heat on our heads? A cold shiver down our spine? Laugh uncontrollably? Fall down “under the power”? Witness miracles? Experience the euphoria of huge crowds?

No; a thousand times, no!

We know that the Holy Spirit is at work when we see men turned from falsehood and lies over to truth and righteousness. For, He is the Spirit of truth.

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (John 4:6)

Note that when the apostle John mentions “us” in that verse, he isn’t referring to us, but to the apostles. In other words, the way to discern between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error is to check up whatever anyone says or does against what the apostles said.

If it follows what the apostles taught, that’s the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God at work. If it does not, that is a spirit of error dancing around.

When men talk of “feeling the presence of the Lord” in a place, know that the apostles spoke of no such feelings with regards to the presence of the Lord. You may very well feel goose-pimples at a meeting, but make no mistake of supposing that was the presence of the Lord.

Look at the following phrases that are often used to describe the popular experience-based gospel:

- “Creating an atmosphere of worship”
- entering in
- breakthrough
- experiencing the glory cloud
- feel His presence
- feel His love pouring over you
- come and experience God for yourself

You won’t find any of these in the vocabulary of the apostles or of Christians in the book of Acts. The Gospel of Christ is not built on the sensual and emotionalism. It is built on truth alone. Many times, these sensations are manufactured or the results of well-crafted mesmerism and hypnotism.

Hype people up enough and they will feel something. It is such an old trick that it is amazing that we still fall for it. Drum up certain music types, and people will feel something. Use stage lighting in a certain way, and you can produce certain feelings in those present.

Most of our modern “gospel” music also have this feeling thingie woven into them. Of course, our music is the product of our theology, so that is not surprising.

Supposed Christians even now judge by feelings. One woman told me she felt a certain way about me. I asked her what I had said or done to make her “feel” that way. She had no answer but insisted that she had a right to feel that way about me. That was one deluded woman.

In addressing this issue, I asked a brother if it was okay for me to wake up one morning, ring him up and tell him that I felt he was a fool. Are we allowed to do that? Are we really entitled to feel any way about anyone, irrespective of whether or not the person had done or said something to warrant it?

Are feelings bad? Not necessarily. But should we build or run any aspect of our faith on them? Absolutely not. Our faith in Christ is in a knowing according to revealed (Biblical) truth and not a feeling. (emphasis mine)

The greater danger of walking by feelings is that unknowing, many have crossed over into mysticism. They may not be aware that what they are experiencing is that, but mysticism it is all the same. It is the world of soulish manipulation that generates voices, images, and myriads of physical manifestations – and none of those things from the Lord. This is where the real danger lies.

It is the realm of mind over matter, the realm of metaphysics – and the Church is swallowing the bait, hook, line and sinker. I will be dealing with this subject some more in the future. I already have a detailed work examining much of what is called the manifestation of the Spirit. May we stop loving the feeling, and instead hold on to the truth of God’s word.

Biblical truth is our anchor, the more sure Word that we are to build on and run with. (emphasis mine)
www.pressingforthecrown.org by Yomi Adegboye

A Sampling of Brian McLaren’s Views

“JOIN ME TO STAND COURAGEOUSLY FOR THE TRUTH, EVEN IF IT COSTS YOU DEARLY” (Attributed to an unknown commentator)

I have been sending out emails to folks from my church and other friends, on a regular basis for the last eight months or so, trying to get many people aware of the Emergent church movement, and the New Age style practices invading our churches today.  Many of them had never heard at all about “emerging” or any of the recognized leaders in this heretical movement.  (Heresy: any opinions or doctrines at variance with the orthodox position regarding essential core beliefs.)

Since many were not aware, but have expressed an interest in receiving my information, I will also post the content of some of my emails on this blog.  So here is the first one.  I plan to put up some short “bios” of the primary culprits of the movement, along with some of their most incriminating statements from their books or interviews.

Here is the first installment of “profiles in emergent”, and it will cover Brian McLaren.  Although sometimes small sample quotes don’t tell us the whole picture, just the quotes by themselves have left me no doubt as to which way Brian McLaren leans to as far as theological beliefs regarding Christianity.  I have done more extensive research on him, and I encourage you to do the same.  I leave you to decide where you stand, and if you need further info, I will gladly provide it or link you to more resources.

As a Nazarene, I am disappointed that several Nazarene universities have invited Brian McLaren to speak.  He has appeared at Northwest Nazarene University for  a three day seminar, and most recently, spoke at the student chapel at Point Loma Nazarene University. Other Nazarene universities (Mid America, Mt Vernon,Trevecca) have invited either Brian or many of his colleagues such as the infamous Tony Jones, who I will feature in the next few weeks.
mclaren-emerging2
Brian McLaren
Author, speaker, pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, a nondenominational church in the Baltimore-Washington region.
Some of his more well known books are:
“A New Kind of Christian”, “A Generous Orthodoxy” which is a personal confession and has been called a “manifesto” of the emerging church conversation.
“The Secret Message of Jesus”, explores the theme of the kingdom of God in the teachings of Jesus.

He is on the international steering team and board of directors for emergent, a growing generative friendship among missional Christian leaders (www.emergentvillage.com, http://www.emergent.info). He is also active in global networking among emerging leaders (amahoro.info).

Take some time to read through these quotes and comments of his and let me know if you agree with me that Brian McLaren is a false teacher:

QUOTES FROM BRIAN MCLAREN:
(Much thanks to thinkerup.blogspot.com for their excellent compilation of these quotes)

ON HOMOSEXUALITY:
“I hesitate in answering “the homosexual question” not because I’m a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I am a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be . . . pastoral. That means understanding the question beneath the question, the need or fear or hope or assumption that motivates the question.”
–Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question, Out of Ur, Jan. 2006

“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.”
–Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question, Out of Ur, Jan. 2006
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ON AN UNDERSTANDING OF HELL:
“Tony [Campolo] and I might disagree on the details, but I think we are both trying to find an alternative to both traditional Universalism and the narrow, exclusivist understanding of hell [that unless you explicitly accept and follow Jesus, you are excluded from eternal life with God and destined for hell].”
–Brian McLaren’s Inferno 2, Out of Ur, May 2006

“The church has been preoccupied with the question, “What happens to your soul after you die?” As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, “Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die.” I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don’t think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line.”
—Brian McLaren, from the PBS special on the Emerging Church
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ON THE PURPOSE OF JESUS COMING TO EARTH:
“What if Jesus’ secret message reveals a secret plan?”…. What if he didn’t come to start a new religion–but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?”
––Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 4
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ON CHRISTIANITY:
“Ask me if Christianity (my version of it, yours, the Pope’s, whoever’s) is orthodox, meaning true, and here’s my honest answer: a little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian understanding of the world and God, Christian opinions on soul, text, and culture I’d have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong, and even more spreads before us unseen and unimagined. But at least our eyes are open! To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall.”
––Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 293

“…many Hindus are willing to consider Jesus as a legitimate manifestation of the divine… many Buddhists see Jesus as one of humanity’s most enlightened people…. A shared reappraisal of Jesus’ message could provide a unique space or common ground for urgently needed religious dialogue—and it doesn’t seem an exaggeration to say that the future of our planet may depend on such dialogue. This reappraisal of Jesus’ message may be the only project capable of saving a number of religions.”
––Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 7
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ON ALAN JONE’S BOOK “REIMAGINING CHRISTIANITY”:
“…. Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.” (Brian McLaren’s comments on the back flap of Alan Jones’ book Reimagining Christianity where Alan Jones states the following about the Christ’s crucifixion: “The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.” (p. 132)
“The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry god. Penal substitution [the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine.” (p. 168)
———————————————————————————————————-
ON SALVATION:
“Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.”
––Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 93
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ON DETERMINING WHAT IS TRUE:
“How do you know if something is true?…First, you engage in spiritual practices like prayer, Bible reading, forgiveness, and service. Then you see what happens; you remain open to experience. Finally, you report your experience to others in the field of spirituality for their discernment, to see if they confirm your findings or not.”
––Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 199
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ON ORIGINAL SIN:
“The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.”
–Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That, p.134
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ON CHRISTIANITY AND ITS RELATION TO OTHER RELIGIONS:
“The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat”
–Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy McLaren, p.254
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ON WHO GOES TO HEAVEN:
“This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven), and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.”
–Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy McLaren, p. 113
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ON WHO IS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS:
“I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.”
—Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 260

END OF QUOTES

Not much more comment from me here, I leave you to “rightly judge” these statements in light of scripture, and decide whether Brian McLaren would be a welcome speaker at your church or college. Again, this is a short summary to highlight Mr. McLaren.  There are many sources of extensive research material, such as Lighthouse Trails Research, and Apprising Ministries, and more.  Check out the links on my main page to find out more and come to your conclusions.

Preaching Christ The Only Hope In Troubled Times

Here is a post directly from the website “Lighthouse Ministrieslocated in the Brownsville, TX area and which serves in the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas, and the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Please pray for this ministry which is headed by Pastor Joe and Claudia Staniforth as they prepare for revival services, and work and witness projects in July.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord!  We are grateful to know that brothers and sisters in different parts of the world are praying for God to move in America.  There is a great need for prayer, even now as we write the Spirit beckons us to our knees!
We live in troubled times!  The economic decline has left many jobless.  In the United States alone, 2.8 million jobs were lost last year (the highest since the end of World War II), and all the New Year celebrations have done nothing to turn the trend.  71,400 lost a job in the first three and a half weeks!   Suicides are on the rise, as many have witnessed their own gods of materialism and wealth come crashing to the ground.
Worst of all, while numerous people are looking for a new hope, false prophets are still filling them with the old lies.   For example, the message of the “health and wealth” churches of Laodicea remains the same.  Their promises of God’s material blessings upon all those who invest in their ministries are still readily available to almost every TV viewer in the country.  Though the decline proves otherwise, their promise of “Your Best Life Now” remains the same.

Furthermore, at a time when many need to hear the uncompromised truth of God’s Word, the Emergent church has risen up among us in an attempt to redefine that truth.  If you are unaware of this new cult on the block, I urge you to pray and study it, lest you be overcome (www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com).  This movement is like a termite that serves to crawl within the woodwork of Christian denominations and nibble away at doctrines.  It has a language of its own, never directly attacking, only subtly reinterpreting scriptural truths.*
Though it may seem the odds are against us, the Lord is still on the throne!  Praise His holy name!  He has laid a verse on our hearts:
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:4)

We need to cry out to Christ in the midst of all these troubles.  Though our hearts cannot be troubled – for we have been given a glorious hope (John 14:1) – we must cry out to God for those who are devastated and deceived.  We must cry out till our voices become hoarse!
We believe that the Lord desires to “show us great and mighty things” – things greater than we can ever imagine:  “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  (Eph. 3:20) We have prayed about the present state of things, and have asked the Lord what we can do in our corner of the globe.  After seeking both the Spirit and the Word, we believe the Lord is leading us to do revival services in both Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico.  We hope to hold these services outdoors, for the duration of a month (perhaps even in tents).

However, we need your prayers!  We need you to pray for a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit.  We are not seeking to manipulate the direction in which He moves, we only desire that He does move.  We are seeking an encounter with the Almighty, as men of God faithfully preach the unadulterated truths of His holy Word.  Please begin praying today, brothers and sisters.  The revivals will be in July.

Also, please pray for the help of evangelists and work and witness teams.  There are three that have already volunteered to preach.  We do not currently have a great amount of funding, and preaching will have to be perceived as voluntary missions work.  Furthermore, we are seeking the help of work and witness teams that will be adding their own dimensions to the services (e.g. skits and singing).  Also, please pray for missionary Steve Brown from Kingsville Church of the Nazarene who will be helping to direct work projects on needy churches on both sides of the border.

On a quick note, the Lord is continuing to move in our Bible study at the park.  Each week, new souls stop by to hear the Word of God.  Most importantly, a group of about ten are returning each week, which may develop into a core.  Your prayers are being answered for the new start church!
Thank you, once again!  May God bring increase to each of your ministries, in order that they may serve to be a living example of His Son.  May He be glorified and praised!
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Joe & Claudia Staniforth

“‘And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of Hosts. (Haggai 2:7)

*For example, let us take the doctrine of repentance.  In an age where we desperately need to preach repentance, Brian McLaren, a leader of this movement, is seeking to reinterpret this truth:  “The word (repent) means to rethink—to reconsider your direction and consider a new one, to admit that you might be wrong, to give your life a second thought, to think about your thinking.” (“The Secret Message of Jesus” 2006, pg. 47)  Admitting we “may be wrong” will not spare the sinner from the judgment of God that is presently upon them.  The Christ of the Bible cannot forgive anything short of “Godly sorrow” that “produces repentance leading to salvation.” A mere consideration of one’s sinful state “falls short of the glory of God,” and is a “sorrow of the world” that “produces death.” (II Cor. 7:10; Romans 3:23)

The Absolute Reliability of Scripture

In this time of great deception which we are in, where so many Christians and churches throughout the country are lacking discernment and allowing false doctrines and watered down gospel teaching to sneak in, it is a great encouragement to me and hopefully to you, when I read scripture such as the one I read this morning from 1 Thessalonians:

  • “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”
    1 Thessalonians 2:13

What a great verse that clearly speaks to the reader that the scriptures are truly God’s word! My favorite and perhaps yours, is 2 Timothy 3:16, where it says “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

You can always rely on God’s word! It must be the final and only authority for matters of salvation and Christian living. If the scriptures are truly God’s word, we cannot allow anyone or anything to undermine it’s authority. No matter how smooth sounding that evangelist on television is; no matter if he or she makes you feel really good; are the words coming out of their mouths true to biblical principles? This is where our responsibility comes in.

We are all called to be like the Bereans, who were commended by Paul for listening to his sermons, and at the same time, comparing what he said to the scriptures. I’m sure they admired Paul and were impressed by his sermons, BUT they did not automatically assume that whatever he spoke was “the gospel”. They used their discernment to judge what he said. And he welcomed that judgment. What a testimony of humility from Paul, that he was not so proud that he expected people to take in all he said without confirming it. Oh that more of us were like those Bereans!

So little of that is done today. Some of the things I see on television from some of the most popular and loved preachers is just full of error, but they command large congregations and generate great wealth. My friends, I would rather be in a small church of ten hearing some real, true to the Word gospel preaching every week, than be a member of of a mega-church or some large church that is feeding the people worthless, feel-good messages that God will give you anything you want. Messages that say that you are lacking in wealth or health, only because you have not asked God for it. As if God is always going to give you what you want. I thank God for His Word. It is reliable; it is inerrant; it is the only real source of truth that gives us the answers to the questions we ask. Manny

Days of Praise

Inerrancy According to Christ February 10, 2009 (From the Institute For Creation Research)

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18) Here is the commentary of the Lord Jesus on the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration. Not only were the words of the Bible divinely inspired, but even the very letters! The “jot” was the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (yod, the tenth letter). The “tittle” was a small horn-like appendage which transformed one Hebrew letter into another. Thus, a stronger statement of absolute verbal inspiration than this could hardly be imagined. Further, the phrase “in no wise” is actually a double negative in Greek. In New Testament Greek it was used for strong emphasis.

According to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, every word–even every letter–of the “law” must be fulfilled. This certainly includes the books of the Pentateuch–including even the often-maligned and distorted opening chapters of Genesis! He applied the same principle to other parts of Scripture as well. “The scripture cannot be broken,” He said (John 10:35) in the course of an exposition of Psalm 82:6, based on one single word used in the verse, supporting the vital doctrine of His own deity.

It is clear that Christ taught the doctrine of full, verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. It is sad and inexcusable that so many today who call themselves Christians repudiate this vital teaching of the Lord Jesus by rejecting, diluting, or “interpreting” the plain statements of the Word of God. And, lest anyone equivocate by suggesting that, since the original writings have all been lost, we no longer can know what the divinely given words may have been, we should remember Christ’s promise: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). HMM (End)

Brothers and sisters, let us stay true to God’s Word and always rely on it for the final, authoritative answers as to how to live, and for the answers on salvation, creation, and all other questions that arise. Compare your “opinion” to what the scriptures really say, in context to the text, and if it does not fall in line with God’s Word, throw it out!

Contemplative Spirituality: Not As Healthy As It Sounds‏

Recently I sent an email to about 45 friends telling them about the dangers of the Emergent church movement masquerading as Christianity. It is a movement that is spreading like wildfire throughout many evangelical denominations, as well as mainline churches. Even though it is gaining much acceptability, it ought to be unacceptable to any Christian who believes in the authority of God’s Word over reason, experience, or anything else. There are many warning signs, of which I will explain to you in an upcoming post.

I will not go into the whole thing about Emergent today, but rather I would like you to get a better understanding of Contemplative Spirituality, a practice which is at the center of the Emergent movement, and which I did not get into much detail last time.

So here is an explanation of this unbiblical practice, as written by the authors at: http://www.gotquestions.org:

And for a wealth of research and commentary on contemplative and related practices, Purpose Driven and more, go to this excellent source: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com

*There is a “bonus” article at the end of this one, by Dr. Gary Gilley on the subject of “lectio divina’” and contemplative spirituality and how they are connected. :-)

What is contemplative spirituality?

Answer: Contemplative spirituality is an extremely dangerous practice for any person who is concerned with living a biblically God-centered life. It is most commonly associated with the Emerging Church Movement, which is riddled with aberrant, false teachings. It is also used by many different groups that have little, if anything, to do with Christianity.

In practice, contemplative spirituality is primarily centered around meditation, though not meditation with a biblical perspective. Passages in Scripture such as Joshua 1:8 actually exhort us to meditate: “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.” Notice what the focus of meditation should be: the Word of God. Contemplative spirituality meditation focuses on nothing, literally. A practitioner is exhorted to completely empty his/her mind, to just “be.” Supposedly this helps one to open up to a greater spiritual experience. However, we are exhorted in Scripture to transform our minds to that of Christ’s, to have His mind. Emptying our minds is contrary to such active, conscious transformation.

Contemplative spirituality also encourages the pursuit of a mystical experience with God. As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mysticism is “the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight).” This emphasis on experiential knowledge erodes the authority of Scripture. We know God according to His Word. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God’s Word is complete. There is no reason to believe that God adds additional teachings or truths to His Word through mystical experiences. Instead, our faith and what we know about God is based on fact. God said in Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” not for lack of mystical experiences.

The website for the Center for Contemplative Spirituality sums it up well: “We come from a variety of secular and religious backgrounds and we each seek to enrich our journey through spiritual practice and study of the world’s great spiritual traditions. We desire to draw closer to the loving Spirit which pervades all creation and which inspires our compassion for all beings.” There is absolutely nothing biblical about such a practice. Great caution should be given to anybody considering contemplative spirituality, for instead of achieving a greater spirituality, a person will instead become confused, deceived, and led away from the Truth.

Recommended Resource: The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur.

DR. GARY GILLEY ON LECTIO DIVINA IN CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM (CSM)

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Sep 14, 2008 from http://www.apprising.org

In his May 2007 edition of Think On These Things “Mystical Youth Ministry” Dr. Gary Gilley gives us a run down of the so-called “spiritual discipline” of Lectio Divina. In doing so Gilley turns to Dr. Kenneth Boa, President of Reflections Ministries and teacher of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) who personally recommends and teaches:

The ancient art of sacred reading (lectio divina) [which] was introduced to the West by the Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century. The sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict that guided Benedictine and Cistercian monastic practice ever since, prescribed daily periods for sacred reading. In spite of the simplicity and power of this method of praying through sacred Scripture, it gradually fell into disuse and obscurity.

Unfortunately, by the end of the Middle Ages it came to be seen as a method that should be restricted to the spiritually elite. As time passed, even monastics lost the simplicity of sacred reading as it was replaced by more complicated systems and forms of “mental prayer.”

In recent decades, however, this ancient practice has been revitalized, especially by those in the Cistercian tradition. Writers like Thomas Merton (Contemplative Prayer, New Seeds of Contemplation, Spiritual Direction & Meditation), Thomas Keating (Intimacy with God, Open Mind, Open Heart), Michael Casey (Sacred Read-ing, Toward God, The Undivided Heart), and Thelma Hall (Too Deep for Words) have been promoting sacred reading in Catholic circles, and Protestants are now being exposed to this approach as well. Lectio divina involves a progression through the four movements of reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. (Online source)

Please know that the quotes that Gilley uses below in his article come from Boa’s book The Trinity, a Journal: Lectio Divina: This is Latin for “holy reading,” and is increasingly becoming a popular method of contemplative “Bible reading” in mystical and emergent circles… Ken Boa, another promoter of mystical Christianity, explains that lectio divina involves four movements:

Reading (Lectio) “Since lectio divina engages the whole person, your bodily posture is important. A seated position that is erect but not tense or slouched is best…. Remember that unlike ordinary reading, in lectio you are seeking to be shaped by the Word more than informed by the Word”

Meditation (Meditatio) “Meditation is a spiritual work of holy desire and an interior invitation for the Spirit to pray and speak within us (Romans 8:26-27)…Meditation will do you little good if you try to control the outcome.” Incorporating the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola is recommended for meditation.

Prayer (Oratio) Boa informs us that “Oratio [Prayer] is a time for participation in the interpenetrating subjectivity of the Trinity through prolonged mutual presence and growing identification with the life of Christ.”

Contemplation (Contemplatio) To the uninitiated, contemplation often is confused with meditation but they are not the same. In ordinary circles meditation describes deep thinking and analyzing with a rational mind and some may use contemplation as a synonym for this activity. But contemplation in mystical circles “is a theological grace that cannot be reduced to logical, psychological, or aesthetic categories…It is best for us to stop talking and ‘listen to Him’ in simple and loving attentiveness. In this strange and holy land we must remove the sandals of our ideas, constructs and inclinations, and quietly listen for the voice of God.”

So as we can see from Dr. Ken Boa, himself a teacher and practitioner of this spurious spiritual discipline, Lectio Divina was developed as a “monastic practice” of apostate Roman Catholicism and as Gilley points out it also involves the so-called “Christian” meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer. And this is confirmed by no less an authority than the late Roman Catholic monk and “Spiritual Master” Basil Pennington who explains in his book Lectio Divina: For the past twenty-five years we have been sharing Centering Prayer in all parts of the world. In all our prayer workshops we have always included lectio. For the monk and nun, lectio and contemplation, Centering Prayer, are all part of one reality. (ix)

Men and women, the fact is Lectio Divina was not taught or practiced by Jesus Christ and His Apostles, it was rightly rejected as not in line with Biblical Christianity by the Lord’s Reformers, and therefore because this neo-pagan practice is counter to Sola Scriptura it has no place in the life of the Christian.

Tony Jones of the Emergent Church Rejects the Doctrine of Original Sin

Source: http://www.alittleleaven.com   Jan 26, 2009

Anyone who has been watching and warning against Post-Modern Liberalism (The Emergent Church) will be not be surprised by Tony Jones’ denial of the Biblical Doctrine of Original Sin. But, for those of you who may be shocked by what is ‘emerging’ from the Emergent Church we have this bit of Bible denying apostasy to share with you.

  • “When I was growing up in a moderate, centrist church — somewhere between mainline Christianity and evangelicalism– Original Sin was a given.  I first learned about it in youth group, and we regularly talked about it.  Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we talked about a life with Christ, and the notion of Original Sin was in the background.  It was assumed.  And I cannot remember that it was ever debated.
  • In other words, I assumed that the doctrine of Original Sin was a biblical notion, and that all Christians accepted it as gospel truth.  Of course, neither is true.”

For Record Here is what the Bible has to say about Original Sin.

Eph. 2:1   And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Rom. 5:12   Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…

Rom. 5:18   Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Psa. 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Rom 3:10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Manny’s comment: In a past email I sent out to several friends, I pointed out that Mr. Jones, a very popular youth speaker, who has even spoken at several Nazarene universities, proclaimed last November unrepentent homosexuals can live a Christian life with no conflict whatsoever. I am very confident that Mr. Jones would never set foot inside the doors of Bethany church and speak to our youth or preach sermon, but if he did…he would hear directly from me before he uttered a single word to our congregation or youth… in public!