END OF YEAR NOTES FROM STAND FOR TRUTH MINISTRIES

SAD NEWS: William “Brother Bill” McCumber Has Passed Away. We thank him for his many years of service to the Lord.  His voice has been one of the few in the Nazarene denomination that have spoken out against the emergent church.
From the introduction to his last book, This Jesus: “My concern about them springs from their distortions of Scripture and their diminishing of Jesus … More disturbing to me is the fact that the Jesus they talk about is not the Jesus of Scripture … Only the Jesus disclosed to us in the New Testament is relevant to our times and adequate for our salvation. To diminish Him is to destroy ourselves.”
The following is from his website as written by his son, Bruce:

In Loving Memory of “Brother Bill”

brother billW.E. McCumber served the Church of the Nazarene for over 69 years as preacher, college professor, revivalist, conference speaker, radio speaker, writer and magazine editor. Since Feburary 2004, he served as senior pastor of First Church in Gainesville, Georgia.  On December 18 he suffered a massive stroke and never recovered.  He was a wonderful, loving father and husband and he will be greatly missed. I have been asked to continue this webpage in his memory, so please visit often. My tribute to Dad can be found here. The McCumber family would like to express their gratitude for the outpouring of love, concern and sympathy during this time.

ON TO SAN DIEGO AND WARMER WEATHER: I will be attending a ThinkTank in Escondido, CA, Jan 4-7, sponsored by Peter Jones and TruthXChange. The subject is One-Ism: A Poison Pill For The Church.  Speakers will include Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, and Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and past general board member of the Wesleyan Church.  I plan to report on the four day sessions when I return.  Please pray for safe travels for all who are attending, and that I will gain some valuable information and new colleagues in the battle for truth.

Truth, The Most Endangered Species
: This video is a 10 minute excerpt from Dr. Michael Youssef’s six part series from the book of Jude:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QtT0l6xXNs .  A reminder of what we are dealing with in this time of apostasy.

My prayer for you: That you be blessed in the New Year, and that we all stand for the truth at all times, no matter what the cost.  Those who are wavering and unsure of what to do- I pray that you will join the fight for the truth of God’s word.

 

Hope: Top 10 Predictions for 2011
(From Marsha West’s website.

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.

2. Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth

3. The Holy Spirit will still move.

4. God will still honor the prayers of His people.

5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.

6. There will still be singing of praise to God.

7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.

8. There will still be room at the Cross.

9. Jesus will still love you.

10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

 

Isn’t It Great To Remember Who Is really in control, and that “the Word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25)


Brennan Manning: False Teacher? Or Solid Christian?

Who is Brennan Manning? He is an author, speaker, was ordained as a Franciscan priest, and is popular in the contemplative prayer movement.  I know friends who like some of his quotes, and certain things that he has said I find no argument with, and actually agree with.  Yet perhaps some don’t know his entire belief system, and I know there are probably some pastors and other Christians who love some of his sayings, but are not aware of everything he teaches. For those people, I hope this helps shed some light on him and help you make good decisions.  My approach to any teacher, preacher, or author is this: if he/she is scripturally sound in almost all he teaches, but he teaches clearly heretical doctrines, he should not be considered a good resource for any Christian to use, and should be called out as a false teacher.  This is clearly commanded to us in scripture.

His Popularity

Brennan Manning is well liked.  He has been invited to speak at several Nazarene universities.  He has been a guest at the College Church on the campus of Northwest Nazarene. On her blog, exnazarene documents some of the speakers invited to speak at Mount Vernon, including Manning, who had spoken there in 2000.  Rev. Scott Peterson, chaplain at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, said this of Manning in 2009 on his webpage: “”Brennan Manning is scheduled to be on campus this fall, and I’m a big fan..”

Two of Manning’s books, Abba’s Child and Lion and Lamb, are listed as a resource book on Bethany First Church of the Nazarene’s website. In an article on Southern Nazarene University’s website on entire sanctification, Howard Culbertson quotes Manning favorably from his book, Ragamuffin Gospel. In the President’s message at chapel, Oct. 22, 2008 at Northwest Nazarene, Manning is also quoted favorably by the college president.  The lead pastor at Midland Community Church of the Nazarene lists Manning as one of his favorite authors, along with emergent favorite Rob Bell. Dr. Eugene Stow recommends Manning’s Signature of Jesus on the Nazarene Theological website.  On the Chaplains Notebook page from 2006, at Olivet Nazarene University, Manning’s book Ruthless Trust is listed as a favorite, along with Henry Blackaby, a promoter of contemplative spirituality.

Max Lucado, popular Christian writer, quotes Manning favorably as well.  Rich Mullins, well-known Christian artist, named his band Ragamuffin Band after one of Manning’s books.  Manning was quoted by the band dc Talk for an intro to their song, What If I Stumble?  On the Nazarene Pastors Ministry Development page, Manning is quoted. Cuyahoga Falls Nazarene Church recommends his book, Abba’s Child, as a resource. There are a whole lot more who love his writings, but there is not space to list them all.

What Does Brennan Manning Believe?

Quote: “[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. … enter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard. … Choose a single, sacred word … repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often” (Signature of Jesus, pp. 212, 215, 218).

This is a promotion of the practice of centering prayer, one of the methods used in contemplative spirituality practices which by the way can be performed equally by non-Christians as well, according to Richard Foster and others.

In his book, A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen comments: “I am aware that Foster and Manning both say things that would stir the heart of any Christian. But the issue here is one of mysticism. Is their mysticism legitimate? Biblical meditation and prayer, as found abundantly in the book of Psalms, is not to stop thinking about God but rather to think intently on God and to direct all our thoughts toward God.   I challenge the Christian community to look at the facts surrounding the contemplative prayer movement and see its connection to New Age occultism and Eastern mysticism. Just because a writer is emotionally stirring, sincere, and uses biblical language does not necessarily mean he or she advocates sound, biblical truths.(2nd ed., pg 88-89).

Quote: “I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word–bibliolatry … I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants” (The Signature of Jesus).

Bibliolatry! Perhaps I have finally discovered the source of this ridiculous accusation against Bible believing Christians!  Some of the scripturally confused people on NazNet frequently use this excuse to reject those who believe in biblical inerrancy- that the Bible is God’s word, and is infallible in ALL it teaches, and is authoritative in all things.  Of course we don’t worship The Book- but where else can we find the information we need to know about Christ and what He has revealed to us for our faith and practice? What arrogance, and actually, what a silly notion to say that those who respect God’s word are idolaters!

Quote: “[I]f I find Christ, I will find my true self and if I find my true self, I will find Christ.” (Abba’s Child)

He also says that Dr. Beatrice Bruteau is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.” Who is Beatrice Bruteau?

She is the founder of The School for Contemplation, and she believes God is within every human being. She wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East.  “We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute I AM” [A Song That Goes On Singing - Interview with B.B.].  When Brennan Manning says she is trustworthy, does he mean we can trust her when  she says we are all I AM?  (Lighthouse Trails Research)

This kind of thinking smells like universalism and a belief in the divinity of man that permeates the religious culture of today, and is being mindlessly accepted by evangelical Christians!

Quote: “The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything … Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly” (The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 196).

Manning also encourages the use of mantras and emptying the mind in The Ragamuffin Gospel. He instructs Christians to repeat an eight-word mantra (“The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing”) for 10 minutes.  (David Cloud, Beware of Brennan Manning).  Have any of you tried this at home, and what does it do for you?  A better question is, is this scripturally sound?  And what pastor has ever taught you to “not feel anything, or think, or do anything… don’t force prayer.”  If so, he has taught you the basic principles of emptying the mind/practicing the silence; and as Richard Foster has warned, you’d better pray a prayer of protection first, because you don’t know what kind of spirits will enter!”

Manning also says we should “listen to people in other denominations and religions” and we shouldn’t “find demons in those with whom we disagree” (The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 65).

This is an obvious support of the ecumenical movement, which is infecting many denominations, including the Nazarene church.  A welcoming tolerance (actually acceptance) of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices is evident in practically all our universities and in many churches today.

In Ragamuffin Gospel, he says, “God is a kooky God who can scarcely bear to be without us” (The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 165).

Would you ever want to call God a kooky God?  This is nothing more than a blasphemous statement about Him.  David Cloud described this book as “having a polluting effect on individuals and churches”, and I fully agree with him.

If you are more aware of what he is about now, I pray that you will stay away from his work and do not recommend his books.  They are filled with the poison of false teaching, in the midst of all the nice and harmless things he says.  If you have been well aware of what he believes and teaches, and you are still promoting him, may you repent from this mistake and reject his work.  I don’t think there is a Christian pastor around who can biblically defend any of this (and more) that I have presented to you.  If so, please write me and I will publish your defense for everyone to learn from.  It must be biblically supported or I will not post it.

I don’t believe Brennan Manning’s work should be a part of any Christian university library or curriculum, or in any Christian church.  What do you think?

For more complete articles on Manning’s heretical views, see the following:

Beware of Brennan Manning (David Cloud, Way of Life)

Beware of the Ragamuffin Gospel (David Cloud, Way of Life)

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing (Mike Gendron)

 

Christmas Homily: The Birth of Christ as the Fulfillment of Prophecy


“Contend For The Faith” From Manny at Stand For Truth Ministries: May all my fellow believers be blessed this year as you remember the only meaning of Christmas: the Son of God came to earth as a baby, to fulfill what was prophesied many years before, that God would send a Savior to the world, Christ the Redeemer, The One and the Only One, who can save the people from their sins and eternal punishment and separation from God.  For those who may not be sure of your salvation, there is only one way: repent of your sins, turn from your old ways, and start walking down the narrow way that Christ has laid before you, trusting in Him completely and obeying Him in ALL that He teaches.  To those not fully committed to serving Jesus above all else, I pray that you will see that your life is not complete, and Christ is not pleased, until you clearly know that you place Him above anyone and anything in your life.

Thanks to all who have supported SFT.  To all Concerned Nazarenes and Concerned Christians who I have become friends with over the last two years, may God bless you, and thank you for the encouragement for me, and the opportunities I have had to encourage and pray for you.  May we all continue into the New Year with the same determination to fight for the truth of God’s word, and to contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints.  The word “contend” is not a weak word in the original Greek.  Here is what it means:  “Epagonizomai: signifies ‘to contend about a thing, as a combatant’ (epi, ‘upon or about,’ intensive, agon, ‘a contest’), ‘to contend earnestly,’ Jude 1:3. The word ‘earnestly’ is added to convey the intensive force of the preposition” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). And the phrase “once for all” signifies that there is no new revelation today.  The gospel was given to us by Christ and the apostles, and contrary to some who are trumpeting their false credentials, there are no apostles today with a “new word” from God.  God’s word has been given, and there is nothing new to add today.  If anyone claims that, they are a liar and a false teacher.  Don’t fall for that foolishness which is again becoming very popular.

The apostles were absolutely militant in their attitude towards defending the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  So many scriptural passages show that to us, and we ought to be the same in our attitude.  The defense of the gospel is of paramount importance for the believer, and I encourage you to not be a shrinking violet when it comes to biblical truth.  Fight for it.  Defend it with all your might, as an athlete striving for the first place prize.  Give it your all, do not compromise one bit.  Do not worry about the praise of men, because that is short-lived, and will fade away, and those you seek to please may even turn on you eventually.  The only One you should seek to please above all else is the Lord Jesus Christ, and part of that is being faithful to His word, and obeying Him in ALL things.  No matter what the cost.

May you all have a blessed Christmas.

I would like to share this Christmas message from Daniel Neades from Better Than Sacrifice blog:

Christmas Homily: The Birth of Christ as the Fulfillment of Prophecy

This is a near-transcript of a short talk I gave just before Christmas last year. You may, if you wish, read about the occasion and listen to the audio.Our text is Matthew 1:18–25:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

With all the myths of the Christmas season – Father Christmas, Rudolf, Mr Ebenezer Scrooge – it is tempting to think of the birth of Jesus as just one more made-up story among many. The nativity as an incidental artifact of a busy midwinter festival. A diverting scene to amuse the children.

But the birth in Bethlehem of a baby boy called Jesus really happened.

Not a myth, but an actual event in history.

No chance occurrence, but the beginning of the fulfillment of dozens of Biblical prophecies.

700 years before the birth of Christ, God spoke through His prophet Isaiah, further unwrapping the divine plan for salvation. Moved by God, Isaiah prophesied that ‘a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’. (2 Pet. 1:21; Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23)

St. Matthew explains that ‘Immanuel’ means ‘God With Us’. Of this ‘Immanuel’, Isaiah further spoke:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given,
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6)

No ordinary child, then – this Christ, this Messiah, this anointed one.

No, here in the grubby nativity manger lies the Mighty God Himself.

The Creator of the universe in helpless human flesh.

Here is Immanuel, ‘God With Us’. Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man. Two natures, human and divine, united in one perfect person.

This child in a manger is the Jesus whose ancestral line we follow throughout the Old Testament.

This is the promised seed of Eve, who has bruised Satan’s head. (Gen. 3:15)

This is the long awaited Messiah, spoken of by Moses. (Deut. 18:15; John 5:46)

This is the offspring of Abraham, to whom God promised ‘In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed’. (Gen. 22:18)

This is the ‘Righteous Branch of King David’, who shall ‘execute judgment and righteousness in the earth’. (Is. 11:1; Jer. 23:5)

This is the one ‘Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting’, whom Micah prophesied would come out of Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

This babe, then, this Righteous King and Judge, is the one of whom all the Scriptures speak. (Luke 24:27)

❅ ❅

In times past, God spoke by the prophets. In these last days, God has stooped and spoken to us by His own Son. (Heb. 1:1)

Dare we not listen to Him?

❅ ❅ ❅

The angel commanded that Mary’s son be named Jesus, reasoning that ‘He shall save His people from their sins.’ ‘Jesus’ means ‘God saves’, and this Jesus, the Man who is God, shall indeed save His people from their sins.

And how great is our need of salvation from our sins! For the Lord of Heaven and Earth gives us life. He created us to seek, worship, honour and obey Him. He gave us commandments, showing us how to live so that we might bring Him glory. (James 1:17; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 10:31).

But we have all turned away from God, rejecting Him and His Law. (Is. 53:6)

Jesus tells us that the greatest of all His laws is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind and all our strength. (Mar. 12:30)

But we do not.

I do not.

You do not.

I do not fear, love and trust in God with my whole being. I neglect His holy Word. I reject His commandments and substitute my own ideas about how I should live. I worship and serve my own desires, rather than the one true God who made me. Like the Apostle Paul, I do the things I hate – things God hates. (Rom. 7:13–25; 1 John 1:8)

The deeper we gaze into the mirror of God’s holy Law, the more of our sin we see reflected there. We have grievously offended the infinite Mighty God who is perfectly Holy, Righteous and Just. We ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Rom. 3:16; cf. 1 John 1:8)

John the Baptist speaks of the ‘wrath which is to come’; Jesus speaks of the day of judgment when He Himself shall separate His sheep from the goats, casting the unrighteous into the everlasting fire of hell, prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt. 3:7; Matt. 25:41; Heb. 9:27)

That is what I deserve. What you deserve. (Rom. 6:23)

❅ ❅ ❅ ❅

But consider again the babe in the manager. The child of God’s eternal decree, foretold by the prophets. God incarnate, born into the world to save sinners such as you and me.

Where we could earn only God’s wrath, this child grew and earned the Father’s good pleasure by his life of perfect obedience to God’s Law.

Where we could die for nothing but our own sin, this Jesus, the spotless, sinless, sacrifice Lamb of God, went willingly to a Roman execution cross. (John 1:29, 10:15, 17, 18; Matt. 3:17)

There, He suffered, shed His blood and died, bearing in His body the punishment for all the sin of all those who trust in Him and call on His name. He paid the penalty in full, satisfying God’s offended holiness and righteousness. The Father showed that He accepted this perfect sacrifice, declaring Jesus to be His Son by raising Him from the dead. (Ps. 22:11-18; Is. 53:5; Acts 2:22–33; Rom. 1:4, 4:23–25, 7:4)

Through the cross, this Prince of Peace thus made peace between a wrathful, holy God and sinful men and women. (Col. 1:20, 3:6; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 10:10; Rev. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:19)

This is the Good News: Christ crucified for sinners and raised from the dead, in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15)

The great exchange for those who trust in Christ is this: He takes our sin, and accounts to us His righteousness.

Jesus says of Himself:

‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but He that believeth not is condemned already, because He hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’

(John 3:16-18, KJV)

This Christmas, hear the voice of God in human flesh. Obey the command Jesus now gives you: ‘Repent, and believe in the Good News.’ (Matt. 9:13; Mark 1:13).

Trust in Him alone, His death for you, His righteous life put to your account. This Christmas, receive from Him the free gift of your sins forgiven. (Rom. 5:15–16, 18)

And if you are already trusting in Christ? Be joyful! Your sins are forgiven! May the Lord grant that we daily renew our repentance and remember that we have an Advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

Amen.


Daniel Neades, Better Than Sacrifice

NPH Endorses Catholic Practice of Ashes On Forehead

In the story of Chicken Little, the townspeople ignored the little guy because they just did not believe him that something serious was happening.  After the acorn fell on his head, and he panicked, and sent the town into a needless frenzy, they just did not believe he was credible, when the real danger finally came.  I’m not Chicken Little, yet I am only one among a growing number of Nazarenes who are saying that in many ways, “the sky is falling.”  Something serious is really happening, and has really been changing the essence of the Church of the Nazarene for quite a while now.  It’s been happening in incremental, little baby steps.  Like slowly poisoning someone to death over a long period of time.  Or perhaps like the frog in the water slowly heating up, and then its too late when he realizes he’s getting cooked alive.

Enter again the Nazarene Publishing House, which I have warned you about regarding many books it is promoting, as well as it’s youth arm, Barefoot Ministries, which is promoting contemplative prayer practices and Roman Catholic monastic mysticism.  There is a new devotional book that is available at NPH called Ashes To Fire.  Here is a partial description of the book from their site:

This 14-week devotional book includes daily scripture readings from the Old Testament and New Testament, prayers, and each Sunday, a small sermon with journaling space.This book is specifically designed to be used, either individually or for small groups, from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost.

Sounds good: a devotional book for Nazarenes to use for spiritual guidance, and it does have some very good lessons in it, from what I hear.  But, note the emphasis on Ash Wednesday.  As a life long Nazarene, I find it odd that only in the last year or two have I been seeing such a consistent reference to Ash Wednesday or to Advent season, or Lenten season, or other such terms, in a way that I never heard once while my father was pastoring for many years, or a couple of the other pastors I had after he retired.  It’s only in recent years that these terms have come into greater use, and the question is, why?  If you recall in previous posts, it has been my suspicion that the Nazarene denomination is slowly being “Roman Catholicized”, and here is another smoking gun.

If you read the first lesson in the book, some of you will recognize that the concern goes beyond just referring to Ash Wednesday, which the writer of the lesson admits is not mentioned in scripture.  I have not read the book, but I do have an excerpt from that first lesson.  Now this book was the result of a collaboration where several authors contributed to the compiling of the lessons, so I cannot tell you which of them may or may not approve of a blatant promotion of a Catholic ritual, and perhaps some were not even aware of this chapter and its reference.  Contributors include General Superintendent J.K. Warrick, Russell Metcalf, Woodie Stevens, and others.

The book was brought to my attention by two Nazarene pastors, both who are former Roman Catholics as well.  Other pastors have expressed their concern for this.  Here is a portion of that first lesson:

OBSERVING ASH WEDNESDAY

Where is Ash Wednesday in the Bible? It isn’t. But there are plenty of precedents for calling God’s people together for repentance, for fresh anointings, and for renewal. The trumpet sound of the prophet Joel, calling for God’s people to tremble at the approaching judgments of God (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17)… 

 

Why ashes? Ashes in the Bible are a sign of mourning or humility before the holiness of God (see Daniel 9:3; Job 42:6; Jonah 3:6; Matt. 11:21). 

 

The Ash Wednesday service for many denominations involves the reading of Scripture, perhaps a very short message outlining the journey to Good Friday, Easter, and beyond. People are then invited to come forward and the pastor marks a small black cross with ashes on each person’s forehead. Traditionally these ashes are from the burning of the previous Palm Sunday’s palms, mixed to a light paste with pure olive oil. Often the service includes Holy Communion. 

 

Do we need to follow a certain ritual? No. But neither do we need to reinvent the wheel. If your church wants to begin an Ash Wednesday observance, a good place to start is with discovering what is good in established traditions. We can approach these sacred times that belong to all the church with humility and reverence. In them we can realize an opportunity to deepen our awareness of God’s forgiveness and purifying presence. Thus, an Ash Wednesday service invites us to humble ourselves before God as we prepare to follow in the steps of Jesus all the way to Calvary.


We have two biblically ordained “rituals” given to us in the New Testament, communion and baptism.  And so now, putting ashes on the forehead, a Roman Catholic ritual, has gotten the blessing of the official publishing house of the Church of the Nazarene.  But there is also a promotional video that NPH has put on the web.  Pay close attention to the final few seconds of this two minute promo.  If it does not shock you at all, then I don’t know what else to say to you.  If it does bother you, well, don’t expect this to be the end of it.  Expect more Roman Catholic rituals to come into our denomination, along with all the emergent heresies and Bible doubting professors and pastors, because frankly, this all seems to be out in the open, with very little objection at this point.

NPH Promo video:  http://vimeo.com/17291499  (If this does not play well, here is the YouTube link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHuZ9Z5A9fo)


You will also see video thoughts on this program by Pastor Carla Sunberg, Pastor Jeremy Selvidge, and President Bowling of Olivet Nazarene University, and perhaps others.
Is Dr. Bowling and these pastors aware of this first chapter and what it promotes, and if so, what is their position on it?  Has the placing of ashes on the forehead occurred at any of the chapel services at Olivet or any other Nazarene university?  What I do know is this, whoever put this together at the Nazarene Publishing House is certainly aware of the contents, and they need to explain why this little bit of leaven was inserted into a devotional book for Nazarenes.  Perhaps this is why I pick and choose very carefully the devotional books I might read, and why the Supreme devotional book, and the only one we really cannot afford to do without, is God’s Holy word.  No matter how fine a devotional book, there is none that is absolutely necessary for our Christian faith and practice.  None at all.

Finally, this link is an opposing view recorded by Pastor Peter Migner of Florida: Pastor Peter Migner On Ashes To Fire

Dear General Superintendents: You each were charged with a big responsibility of leading our great denomination, and part of that is to lead by example.  So what do you say of putting ashes on our foreheads in the Church of the Nazarene?  What is your view of the seeming Roman Catholization of many of our churches and universities?  What will be tolerated or not tolerated as we seem to continue down the road to Rome, and the leaven continues to grow?  What is “essential” or “non-essential?’  Is it that the “essentials” is not just agreeing on a core statement of beliefs; but the “true essentials” is full obedience to the Lord and all that He teaches and commands.

I just want to know how far this is going to go.  Many Nazarenes have already made that decision, and they no longer fellowship with us, precisely because of things like this that have been coming in.

What’s next?

Beating A Dead Horse

I’m sharing this latest post from Christian Lady‘s blog.  Some good insight from another Christian who has experienced things we should not have to experience.

Uh, it is so hard to be a Christian at times.  It’s been a long three years of learning since we began to really pay attention to problems in our former church.  Last night we had a meeting with one of the pastors from the church we currently attend.  The pastor could tell based on what we said that we have many hurts from our former church.  He said something interesting, that someone had decided to leave this church recently.  The man stated, “I am leaving here, but these are the things I have gained from this church…”  It was a disagreement, to be sure, but it was also a list of ways God had used the church to help him grow.

I do think we did experience good things in our former church.  There was fellowship with other believers, there was some good teaching (a few pastors in particular).  We did have some great times in our small group, made life long family, life long friends.  We also did learn from some people who despite the church had a habit of studying the bible.  Some lacked discernment (obviously we did and by the grace of God began to realize there were problems, how otherwise I do not know…blind I tell ya).  At any rate, we did gain things, we did grow.

However, there was false teaching there.  Most people preaching/teaching it had no intention to teach falsehood.  They had bought into it and didn’t know.  I know we all have, at times, had an uneducated concept of one thing or another about Christ or salvation etc.  I do believe there are those who just make mistakes and haven’t studied and know no better.   There are others who are deceived and despite being taught truth, they are convinced this or that teaching is the truth and is better.  There are others blinded by their own pride, their own agenda.  I think our former church was (and likely still is) filled with some true believers, some believers who are mistaken, some who are deceived.  Then it also has many who think they are believers but aren’t because the teaching has led them astray.  Then there are those who have come in and are being appeased, but are not in the faith.  Every church has some of this, but not outright deception.

I believe our former church doesn’t just have doctrines with which people can agree to disagree, and can debate about.  I do believe there is more to it, and that is where the hurt lies.  No matter how nice the lead pastor, no matter how much you believe he has good intentions, he is teaching falsehood.  Spiritual formation as it is taught in our former church seems to be works based.  All the “seeker friendly” stuff is about filling the pews, and misses the mark when teaching the gospel.   The preachers spent too much time off message, and that is where my pain can be found.  There are people still going there, and even if they are true believers, and even if there is some growth, I cannot help but believe it is stunted.

And yet, God can use a bad thing for good.  Beauty from ashes.

So there I go again, thinking of my former church and realizing how stupid we were.  We were blind, and it hurts.  It hurts when others cannot understand things, and do not see the false teaching for what it is and challenge it.  It hurts to know their kids are in the church and are buying it all, eating it all up.  And then they wonder why they leave the church and don’t ever come back?  What are they being offered?