Ashes To Fire is another baby step to apostasy. If Christians are waiting for Satan to get right in their face and say, “here is the false teaching I am spreading, here are the evil doctrines that I want you to believe” – they don’t understand Scripture. What Satan does is mix 99% good with 1% evil, and so he appears as an angel of light to the unsuspecting, undiscerning Christian who has not been grounded in the word of God, or has lost his grounding. He hooks you in with something that looks good. It’s no wonder that even some of the most well known and once solid, doctrinally sound preachers and teachers that we know, have now themselves been corrupted by doctrines of demons.
The infiltration of heresy is so much clearer to me now, looking back. I was taken in by it. I became highly aware of it after leading a small group study of the Purpose Driven Life book. After the group ended, some things just did not sit right with me about Rick Warren’s book. Soon I discovered the book was full of scripture twisting gymnastics, quoting of New Agers, and convenient use of verses from The Message, a paraphrase (not a translation) of the Bible with its own occultic references. I remember apologizing later to a fellow employee to whom who I had given the book.
Darkness and Gloom
But it had already started a few years back. Now I can see what was happening. Have you ever been to a Maundy Thursday service? Well, the one I attended at my church was held almost in total darkness, with a few candles, and loud banging noises to simulate the crucifixion, to get you in the right “mood”. And you were told that as soon as the service ended, you were to walk out solemnly in total silence. I remember some folks scolding others for whispering; they took it quite seriously, as if it was a biblical mandate. That was Maundy Thursday. Never saw it before in my many years as a Nazarene, certainly never experiences such a dark, somber event, and I hope I never do. But I went along with it, even though it seemed a bit strange. I remember my father-in-law was not at all comfortable with it, describing it as Roman Catholic-like. His discernment antennae were already up a long time ago, as I found out later.
“In the emerging culture, darkness represents spirituality. We see this in Buddhist temples, as well as Catholic and Orthodox churches. Darkness communicates that something serious is happening.” Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church, p. 127
Rituals and “Experiencing God”
Then came the rest over the next several years, a little at a time; the new emphasis on Advent services, Lent, Ash Wednesday, the lighting of candles again. I guess it seemed okay to me at first. Then there were the books given out to church leaders. For example, “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby. Turned out he is a mystic who promotes contemplative prayer. Then I spotted the Henri Nouwen books, and many of his sayings were written in several Advent booklets. Nouwen was a universalistic Roman Catholic monk who in his final book wrote that his desire was to help everyone find their own way to God. So why is his book being given away by pastors? Then the Rob Bell and Richard Foster material and videos that were used for Wednesday night “Bible” study. Whatever happened to real Bible study?
“This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true.” Rob Bell
A Full Stomach, A Clean Planet, But Empty Souls
Then there is the increased involvement in community service such as food banks, with little focus on feeding the gospel to the people. Then there is the new terminology being used, like the “Eucharist” instead of communion. And then there are the ecumenical services with Roman Catholic or Episcopal churches that still continue with my old church. I attended one of them initially, but it did not feel right, not for me or my wife. She said how could she sit there in the service and be praying to Jesus, while the woman next to her is perhaps praying to “Mother Mary?” Why do we do this now in even more Nazarene churches, where we fellowship with folks who are in darkness, and then just simply walk away after the service, leaving them still in darkness? Are we not to be a light to them? What is wrong with us? Is this how we show our love for people who are in serious error?
“My sense is that “what is trying to be born” in the pregnant Christian faith will involve a convergence of Roman Catholic, Evangelical/Charismatic, and Mainline Protestant Christians (along with, I hope, some Eastern Orthodox as well).” Brian McLaren, from his website
And how can I forget the worst District Assembly service (in 2009) my brother and I ever attended, when we heard two songs that were more fit for a Wiccan service, or perhaps an environmental conference, than for a worship service; we saw video advertisements for cleaning up the environment; packets called “I’m A Naz-a-Green” passed out to the youth; and the District Superintendent recommended a heretical novel, The Shack, as a great missional book for pastors.
We “ought to read Revelation through environmental eyes.” Dan Boone, M7 Conference.
Looking back, I see how it all was coming together. It’s all part of the road to Rome. Come back to the Mother Church, and many Nazarenes are tripping over themselves falling for this. And I did for a while, but I am thankful for the grace of God and His mercy in opening my eyes. And He did not speak to me directly in an audible voice while I practiced the silence. He simply told me in His word, guiding me to the truth through the Holy Spirit.
Ashes To Fire: The Latest Tool Of The “Angel of Light”
Ashes to Fire is in its second year, and fits in nicely with the big plan to join with Rome. Most will fall for its allure and not see the big picture. It is just a matter of time when at your local Nazarene church (unless it is led by a pastor who does not bow the knee to Baal) you may have to decide whether to go up and get ashes put on your forehead, or to flee, or worst yet- sit there and say nothing.
This year’s Ashes To Fire YouTube video, from Beacon Press, omits any reference to ashes on the forehead, which is seen on last year’s video promo that was created by Nazarene Publishing House. From their website, you can download instructions (Planning Resources) on how to set up a prayer walk at your church. Perhaps your church will do that this year. Will you follow along with it, just to get along with what your pastor wants? Will you be drawn in to seek that EXPERIENCE?
Ashes to Fire is just another of the many feel-good EXPERIENCES you now can have, courtesy of the compromisers who have invaded the church. And so, with all the other “new ways”, you now may have the opportunity as a Nazarene to:
– Do a prayer walk (labyrinth),
– Walk a prayer labyrinth (same as prayer walk)
– Do a prayer station (Stations of the Cross),
– Use prayer beads (rosary),
– Light a lot of candles,
– Sit in darkness more often,
– Proclaim the bread and wine as the ACTUAL body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation),
– Repeat scripture over and over without gaining understanding (mantra),
– Join with priests and nuns in a retreat to practice the silence,
– Put ashes on your forehead,
– Replace the Bible with Love Wins by Rob Bell,
– Sit in silence while waiting for the voice of God,
– Pray alongside someone who trusts in works for their salvation,
– Feel like you did something good after you prayed alongside someone who trusts in works for their salvation,
– Work at the community food bank and not once give the gospel to the poor empty soul with the full stomach who is heading straight to hell. But you will feel good.
The Apostates Among Us
THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED APOSTASY. This is a small portion of what has been ushered into the church. Some of these people were not compromisers before, but they have been seduced by “deceiving spirits”. Some of them are leaders in our universities and in our pulpits who have facilitated this deception to our youth. And they wonder why we are so “divisive?” The answer is simple: they are the real dividers who are damaging the body of Christ, and they need to repent, or to be expelled from our fellowship. The other thing we need to do is pray that even now, those being introduced to these things for the first time, will have the discernment, and will heed the warnings we are sending out.
Prayer Stations, Dark Sanctuaries, and Multi-Sensory “Worship” (Lighthouse Trails Research)
The Emerging Church: Another Road To Rome (Roger Oakland)