When we talk about Contemplative Prayer, right off the bat, we need to define our words. When I warn you of the dangers of Contemplative Prayer, what I'm not talking about is meditating on God's Word or contemplating His holy nature and character- which is what Christians are supposed to do! No, I'm talking about the man-made methodologies used as a spiritual exercise to "experience God's presence." In spite of research and warnings from those who watch the trends coming into the modern church, mysticism and New Age prayer practices are increasingly appealing.Read More
A blog by Amy Spreeman
An Appleton, Wisconsin pastor has given us permission to share a letter he wrote to churches across the state with a WCA (Willow Creek Association) affiliation. (To find out which churches in your area are affiliated with WCA, click here.) If you live in Wisconsin, there is a good chance your pastor has received this letter. You may want to ask him what he and his elders think about this:
June 30, 2015
I am writing this letter out of concern for the recent acknowledgment by Darren Calhoun, a worship leader on staff at Willow Creek Chicago, a downtown satellite church of the main campus, that he is gay. On the weekend of June 11-13 in Atlanta, he was a speaker at The Reformation Project conference, headed up by Matthew Vines. If you are unfamiliar with Matthew Vines, here is a brief quote from his bio which appears on his own website:
“In 2013, Matthew launched The Reformation Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to training LGBT Christians and their allies to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. He is now expanding his efforts with conferences and regular speaking engagements across the country...” (1)
In another significant headline this June, which is “LGBTQ Pride Month”, we learn that Tony Campolo, a “Red Letter Christian” (2) is now advocating for full inclusion of LGBTQ members into the church as a whole without repentance. Combine that with the Supreme Court ruling that gay marriage will be now legal in all 50 states, and it becomes very clear biblically that the time for sitting on the church fence regarding this controversial issue is past, and the time for a clear biblical stand has been moved to the front burner for those who claim to know and teach the truth.
Just a note on who I am: I am a bible-believing Pastor of a non-denominational church called Calvary Chapel. I fully realize that churches have differing views on this hot-button issue, but having said that, I assume that most if not all of you believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Paul wrote to Timothy:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...” 2Timothy 3:16
I have been around ministry for some time, and in the Fox Valley where I live, as far as I know I have been in ministry longer than any area evangelical pastor, over 36 years. Beginning in the early ‘80s, I was a part of the Fox Cities Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship (FCEMF), but my participation ended when much of their focus began to revolve around Willow Creek and its leadership conferences. As I saw this shift begin, I expressed my concerns over building bigger churches based on demographic studies of what people want to see in a church, also known as the “seeker-sensitive” church model.
Their annual “Leadership Summit”, existing primarily to spread the Willow Creek ministry model to those churches that sign up to be a part of this “back-door” denomination, is known for bringing in speakers who are not even Christians, and include both politicians and postmodernists: Condoleeza Rice, Gen. Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter,U2's Bono, Tyler Perry, Oprah, emergent Erwin McManus, false teacher Steven Furtick, pragmatist Andy Stanley, and a host of other seeker-social-justice advocates, celebrity pastors, and adherents of liberal theology.
These annual “summits” are purposefully meant to be an example or pattern for those who attend to follow worldly wisdom in developing or modeling leadership, and then streaming this leaven out to 375 churches around the world, an estimated audience of 260,000. (3) The responsibility on Willow Creek to somehow be accountable for the practices and preaching of each of these churches is large, one that hopefully they do not take lightly. Each attendee, whether in person or via church-wide stream, pays a significant fee to absorb “wisdom” from people across denominational and cultural lines. In order to appeal to this wide of an audience, we must naturally assume that the spiritual message must be thoroughly watered down, as is evidenced by a lack of any mention of Jesus, the Spirit, or the Scriptures in any of their promotional material, something we have been watching for over a decade here in the church office.
Bill Hybels’ primary mentor was Peter Drucker, the guru of American CEOs for decades with seeming outward success. Drucker is not a believer, and has long desired to have an influence on Hybels and Rick Warren and the churches within their sphere of influence. This perceived success, when translated to ministry, can be seductive to an average evangelical church that just wants to stay current with the latest church model of success and feels that numbers indicate approval by God somehow.
A perfect example of this would be the largest church in the country, Joel Osteen’s church in Houston, with 48,000 people in attendance. Yet the full gospel is never presented there; no mention of sin or repentance, and basically doing nothing more than telling people what they want to hear. Nearly every one of Joel’s book titles contains “me”, “you”, or “I” in the title. Calling a best-seller “Your Best Life Now” does nothing to suggest that this pastor is getting his congregants ready for eternity but rather keeping them focused on themselves and their desires in this life.
As the seeker model of doing church began to sweep the country, suddenly back in 2007, a startling headline hit the Christian media: “Willow Creek Repents?”. Leadership Journal carried the story and James Twitchell, in his book Shopping for God, reports that outside Bill Hybels' office hangs a poster that says: "What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?", which describes this ministry model to a “T”. (4)
Willow Creek’s philosophy of ministry in a nutshell, outlined by two videos presented at that Summer’s Leadership Summit (including one from Hybels) was that “ the more people participate in (our) sets of activities, with higher levels of frequency, it will produce disciples of Christ." So programs and looking busy produces spiritual maturity? What might they consider the role of a pastor or leader then if all one needs to do is wind up a program and watch it magically create believers?
Leadership Journal went on to say that “Directly or indirectly, this philosophy of ministry - church should be a big box with programs for people at every level of spiritual maturity to consume and engage - has impacted every evangelical church in the country.” Wouldn’t you agree that with that kind of influence, the ground moves a little when Willow Creek stops in the middle of their day and says, “we made a mistake”? What did they mean by that, and how did it translate to the hundreds of churches that model themselves after Willow, 82 of which influence the church-goers in the state of Wisconsin alone?
On one level, research is what built that church; research is then what brought to light the fact that after years of such a model, research also showed that "Increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does NOT predict whether someone's becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more." (5)
Hybels goes on to say that after investing 30 years of his adult life and millions of dollars to do ministry based on a business model and convincing others around the world to do the same, the results of this unnamed “research” produced a significant “wake up call”. Unfortunately, that wake up call wasn’t loud enough to fundamentally change the way they do things at all, and any hope that they might stick with things that cost far less than their research, such as bible studies, prayer meetings and discipleship were quickly dashed. Within mere weeks, they hosted a large Youth event with postmodern pastor Erwin McManus (leader of Mosaic Church in the heart of Los Angeles), and the seeker ship has been floating along in the same manner as before without interruption, embracing a form of liberal theology that walks lock-step with the political ship that America is riding to sail off into the final sunset before the Lord returns. Hybel’s wife Lynn writes for socialist and professing Christian Jim Wallis’ social justice newsletter/site “Sojourners”, and conducts “Christ at the Checkpoint” pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel seminars. Exchanging one worldly perspective for another is hardly “change”.
It is in this same spirit that I am sending out to you this letter along with 2 particular books that are very timely right now. The first book, “Love Flowed Down - It Was For Me” is written by Ruth Christian, a part of our fellowship in Appleton for over 25 years and a bible teacher to our ladies. Her testimony as a former lesbian utterly changed by God’s grace, the same grace every repentant sinner has access to, raises the bar for anyone who somehow thinks that any 1 sin is outside His cleansing power. Also in this same vein, we recommend a book by Rosario Butterfield entitled, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”, in which she tells her story of being a professor at the liberal University of Syracuse when the Lord got a hold of her heart and utterly changed her from the inside out. It is a very compelling read and was featured in Christianity Today magazine in an article entitled, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. If you don’t have time for the book, do yourself a favor and meet Ms Butterfield in this article. (7)
The other book, “The New Evangelicalism”, is written by Paul Smith, brother of the late Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. This timely book outlines the root cause and biblical concerns with the seeker-sensitive approach to ministry and its foundation in the worldly philosophies of Peter Drucker. At the end of the day, it is probably the definitive work exposing the roles of Drucker and Dallas Theological Seminary in bringing the church to this point. A must read for context, and thoroughly documented point by point.
Stand Up for the Truth, a cutting-edge radio program out of Green Bay’s Q90FM that airs Monday-Friday at 9AM, wrote an article on Darren Calhoun and his participation in Matthew Vine’s event in mid-June. They write:
“Willow Creek spokeswoman Heather Larson told WORLD News Group’s Warren Cole Smith that Willow Creek establishing an openly gay man in leadership at the church does not signal a change in direction for Willow Creek. This begs some questions: Heather, what statement of policy are you talking about, and how did it not change? Second, why does Willow Creek appoint leaders who are openly rebelling against God? And third, for all of you Willow Creek Association members out there who have scolded your sheep for years when they have brought concerns to your leadership about participating in Bill Hybels Global Leadership Summit: Do you think that perhaps you should reconsider your participation now, and perhaps issue an apology to those you’ve berated for their concerns?” (8)
While the professing church seems content in 2015 to sway to the beat of a secular culture and become nearly indistinguishable from the world, there are still godly men and women everywhere who desire to stop the ride and get off, asking tough questions that have already been answered by the Word of God, and which churches like Willow Creek are seemingly ignoring. For the record, I have contacted Bill Hybels about this issue and they have not responded to me.
1Corinthians 6:9-11 is not open to re-interpretation here in 2015, lest the church somehow think there is any wiggle room:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
“Do not be deceived”, a clear warning, tells us that the potential for deception is present in our hearts concerning this list of various sins; note which ones in particular that many in the church have decided ARE open to interpretation today, that men like Calhoun and Vines feel heaven AND earth should be moved to redefine. The verse clearly suggests that Calhoun, Vines, Campolo, and a host of other liberal churches and church-goers are deceived. That is a very heavy statement, a serious charge. But clearly we are promised that God is in the sanctification business regardless of the sin.
Men like these are walking a slippery slope and creating a god in their own image in their attempt to get the church to do things solely based on their “orientation”. Suppose someone came to your church and said, “I'm having trouble reconciling my orientation as a thief/liar/adulterer to what the bible teaches so I need to create a movement and put on a conference to convince the church to rethink its stand on adultery....stealing....lying”. Would the church move heaven and earth to accommodate these sins as well? Would your church entertain such absurdity? The truth is, anyone who thinks like this about any sin is in eternal peril and in need of repentance.
Let’s take it a bit further: does homosexuality cross a line with God? Romans chapter 1, vs 18 - 32 tell us that God’s wrath is kindled against unrepentant sin and ungodliness by those who suppress the truth for their own selfish, unrighteous reasons because what can be known of God is apparent to every human. Verse 21 tells us that “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man...Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Verses 26-29a: “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due...God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality...”
In light of what God clearly says about these things, how does the Apostle Paul deal with them as they come up in the church? At Corinth, an issue of sexual immorality had arisen; Paul was not present with them at the time, but made a judgment call on this situation nevertheless and wrote them a letter. 1Corinthians 5:3 tells us, “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.” 1Corinthians 5:1-13 then presents us with Paul’s handling of this situation, in light of the seriousness of leaven in the church. Verses 4 and 5 tell us, “ In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
He goes on to say, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” My desire is in the same spirit of Paul, to see such a one saved from eternal judgment. Jude 23 says, “....but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
But God’s Word is clear; the handling of this situation in any church today, including Willow Creek and all it’s campuses and associate churches and any church that names the name of Jesus Christ, is found in these Scriptures. The inerrant Word of God is on the block here, not the reputation, ministry model, or political correctness of any congregation. Let God be true and every man a liar.
On Wednesday July 8, Stand Up for the Truth quoted Congressman Reid Ribble on this issue. Reid is a friend of mine, and back in the early ‘80s he contacted me about starting Appleton Christian School, which we did and it continued here for 3 years until they outgrew our building. He said, “I disagreed with the Supreme Courts decision on marriage. The Supreme Court decision to interject themselves in the topic of marriage is simply an intrusion at the federal level into a states rights issue. No matter how that decision affects me I choose to follow the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:14-18:
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Christians would do well to heed these words.”
There is a passage of Scripture in which Paul gives a prophecy about the last days, as he is mentoring Timothy:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” 2Timothy 4:3
In supporting leaders such as Calhoun and Vines, Willow Creek is assisting in fulfilling this prophecy.
The remedy for this is found just one verse previous: “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2Timothy 4:2
In conversations with pastors in the past what I have heard most was, “we don’t agree with everything Willow Creek does, but we still attend the conferences.” I believe a line has been crossed for such a rationale, and that the church should mark Willow Creek for what it is.
My hope and prayer in light of clear Scriptural instruction is that you will reconsider your position as a Willow Creek Association member, the impression it leaves and the influence you have over those in your spiritual care. Some day we will all give an account to those the Lord put in that care. For an excellent resource, Ray Comfort has just released a movie, “Audacity” which addresses this issue. It is well balanced and meant to be seen by the general public; my letter is directed solely to the church, to Christians.(9)
“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1Peter 5:2-4
May the Lord give you wisdom as you prayerfully weigh out all of these things. If I can be of help in any way, I would be happy to talk with any of you.
Sr. Pastor, Calvary Chapel of Appleton
Abortion has ended more lives than the world wars and the Holocaust combined. We see those images, and say to ourselves, "Never again." What if the world could see exactly what happens in a real abortion process? Tomorrow in Washington D.C., they will.
Created Equal, a national pro life group, will be displaying abortions in progress on a Jumbo-Tron TV screen at the Lincoln Memorial on July 14, as part of a week-long Justice Ride event. The idea is to tell in images the hard truth about what abortion is and does.
The group created the video a few years ago and has shown it at other events, including the DC March for Life and West Coast Walk for Life. "Traditionally at these events, the politicians, activists, and post-abortive parents are given a voice. Not until recently have the babies been represented in such a profound way. Using this powerful technology allows us to continue to stand for the victims at these events," says Created Equal via its website.
The Lincoln Memorial is known, among other things, as the location for the famous "I Have Dream" speech delivered by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in which he restated our Founders' words that "all men are created equal."
Warning: This video contains graphic images.
Two-time Dove Award winner Don 30 Francisco is a singer/songwriter best for songs like He’s Alive, Adam, Adam Where are You" and I’ll Never Let Go of Your Hand. Surprisingly, Francisco is now scolding Christians who believe that the Bible is without error. In fact if you believe in the infallibility of Scripture, you are "dead," and need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid, Don says. He posted this message on his Facebook page:
I love the Scriptures. Anyone who's heard my songs knows that, and I shouldn't even have to say it. God speaks to me through them constantly. The Bible is the most wonderful book in the world. Those who have given their lives to preserve it and translate it didn't die in vain, for without them we wouldn't know that God came to Earth and lived as one of us, died on the Cross to show us His love and forgiveness, and rose from the dead to take away all our fears. And those are just the main points....My problems begin with those who would try to make this book into a god. There is only one Foundation, Jesus Christ, and anyone who attempts to build on another one will be using an unstable and deadly cornerstone. I understand those of you who have 'drunk the Kool-Aid' (believed in the inerrancy/infallibility thing because you've been taught to believe it-- I used to be one of you), but it's time to arise from among the dead and believe the Gospel. For those of you who intentionally use this doctrine to control others, may God have mercy on your soul! May you soon travel the Damascus Road as Paul did. source
I think the mercy needed here should be from Don and his adoring fans agreeing with him, rather than demanded from those who cling to the truth of God's breathed-out Word. Breaking news: the Bible judges us, not vice versa.
What - or whom - could possibly have influenced him in this dreadful direction?
Sadly, it appears that Rob Bell has influenced Don and Wendy, even in denying the Doctrine of Hell:
Sounds a lot like what Brian McLaren has said. Final question: Do women of God speak like this? Are we not to judge the fruits of those who call themselves "Christian?" Please continue to pray for this couple that they and their many followers would turn to the truth and away from worldliness and unholy language:
Hat Tip: Jose Estrada
(Update September 23) Parades, tears of joy, mobs trying to touch his robe. Can you believe what we are watching on television as the Pope visits the U.S.? When reporters call this a "holy day" for the United States, and gush over the "Holy Father," it's a holy slap in the face to our only real Holy Father. Just a few months ago, protestant Christian leaders were praising and praying TO the Pope. I dug this out of the trash from the old site and am so thankful that I've archived all my posts!
An astounding ecumenical prayer alert shared by Christian singer Don Moen suggests that people of all faiths are praying to Papa Francesco, or Pope Francis, the "Holy Father." The artist was invited, along with Andrea Bocelli And Darlene Zschech to sing in Rome at the Vatican in a "Voices In Prayer" event in St. Peter's Square, to pray for persecuted Christians.
"This ecumenical event brings Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together as we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being martyred and persecuted all over the world today. Although there are many denominational differences throughout the church worldwide, I have seen firsthand how coming together in worship and prayer promotes unity." He also shared this on his Facebook Page from Channel 2000, a pro-Vatican television channel:
Hat tip: Chirani M.
“At the end of the day we’re all on the same side,” says Hillsong celeb Brian Houston of Mark Driscoll’s sudden attack of conscience. Our friends at Pulpit & Pen have audio of Driscoll’s statement. Here is a snippet, but do go to the site and listen for yourself:
Speaking at the Hillsong conference, Mark Driscoll repented for a number of things. Praise God. Hallelujah.
Milking the Best-Seller’s List by Improperly Using Church FundsAsking staff about their wive’s favorite sexual positionWell more than a dozen counts of plagiarism Porno-graphic discerno-visionThrowing people under the Mars Hill bus
No. Driscoll didn’t repent for any of that stuff. Driscoll repented for having criticized Joel Osteen.
"You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down."
- Joel Osteen on why he avoids controversial issues, like sin, wrath, repentance...
No, we're not calling J-O a Christian leader, but many megachurch pastors are either silent or echoing these sentiments.
Christian Post reports: Joel Osteen on Why He Avoids Political, Social Issues: 'It's Not What I'm Called to Do;' Says Message Is 'Lifting People Up'
Joel Osteen, the popular 52-year-old leader of America's largest protestant church, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, bluntly revealed that the reason why he avoids speaking out on hot button social and political issues, such as same-sex marriage, is because he believes that's not what he's called to do as a pastor.
In a recent interview on WBUR's "Here & Now" radio program Osteen, who was asked if he felt these hot button social and political issues are important, said: "I think they are important but I think everybody has their own calling."
He further explained that "It's not what I'm called to do."
"I have friends who are very political. They're pastors and that's what their thing is. But I think sometimes, that the church world, we can take one issue and make it really, really big and it can turn people off where there are many bigger issues. That's why I don't like to be defined by one thing," said Osteen last Monday.
"You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down," he added.
Osteen emphasized that the biggest issues facing people he ministers to are concentrated in the marital, relationship and health arenas. One of the reasons that his church continues to grow while others lose members, he said, is because he focuses on the everyday issues affecting people rather than focusing on the controversial ones.
In a 2013 interview Osteen gave a similar response to Katie Couric on why he focuses on "everyday life issues" instead of controversial ones.
"I want them to know that God's good, that they can move forward, that they can break an addiction, that they can become who God's created them to be," he said.
When asked about the "prosperity gospel" that he preaches, Osteen said he didn't like the term. "What it connotates is that you just talk about money," he said. "I don't do that, I don't do that on purpose because so many people are skeptical of TV preachers to begin with."
He added: "Prosperity is having good relationships, having peace in your mind, being able to sleep at night. But I do believe God wants you to be blessed. He wants you to excel in your career. He wants you to go further than your parents. There's a tradition that says you're supposed to take a vow of poverty if you're going to be a Christian, but I don't believe that."
In my home town in a little church in Neenah, Wis., a false prophet is ensnaring many. It's a church in which past speakers have includedTodd Bentley, Patricia King, Joshua Mills and many others. I take no pleasure in sharing this information, but do so with a heart of love and alarm for those who will be exposed to a dangerous teaching.
More on that in a moment. First, you're probably asking, what makes these teachings and teachers so dangerous? They talk about Jesus, don't they? The answer is yes, they sure do. But if you compare their teachings to the Scriptures (which must be your sufficient authority), you'll find that God's Word and their teachings are many times opposite, in spite of verses and the name of Jesus being sprinkled into their presentations.
As well-intentioned as they are, these folks are part of a huge and growing conservative dominionist movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), that you ought to learn about. I've put together a research White Paper on Dominionism (NAR) so that you can study if for yourself.
Back to the local event: July 17-19 a visiting "prophet," self-described apostle Doug Hogan, will be in the Fox Cities on his whirlwind tour of "holy laughter," being slain in the spirit and amazing predictions for congregants. Hogan is known for sharing his tales of raising a couple of hundred people from the dead (actual death - not spiritual), through his Freedom Ministries, with a vision of "winning Mexico and the world for Jesus."
What will you experience if you go? Here is the testimony of a man named Brian who attended one of David Hogan's performances:
There were only a few minutes devoted to reading and teaching from the Scriptures, that is, if you count the time Hogan was distracted from his preaching by episodes of uncontrollable laughter (called "holy" laughter by many Charismatics). He didn't seem to have any problem with the interruptions, though, nor did some in the congregation who found it amusing. At first it surprised me that there were people who didn't find Hogan's bizarre behavior offensive. I then remembered that there exists "Christians" who don't place the premium on God's Word that they should. It was troubling to know that I was sitting among some of them. Hogan's lack of respect in reading from the Scriptures was tolerated because he wasn't invited to the church to teach from God's Word. The church marketed him as a healer, not a teacher. He was invited to put on a show. A show that was said to be inspired by the "Spirit."Occasionally those people who came in contact with him would fall backwards into the arms of "catchers" who would then help these "slain" onto the floor where some remained for a long time (much to the excitement of some of the younger onlookers).
Another woman named Gail writes of her experience with Hogan:
When David was asked "who should the checks be made out too", he said "leave it blank" but was corrected by one of the church officials. I found that strange. He did very little teaching, read portions of about 3-4 scriptures and said he had prepared a teaching but wouldn't be giving it. Said he was feeling very aggressive. He started out the meeting saying he didn't like or trust any of us and didn't care what we thought about him. He introduced his wife but would not give her first name because he didn't trust us. Weird. He spent most of the time making us feel bad and boasting of the miracles at his hands and the places he would be teaching, that of course seemed more important than him being with us.
What do David and Gail get for their testimonies? Accusations and attacks from deceived Christians, mostly. And if you try to stand up for biblical truth against false teachers, you will too. Says Brian:
Over the years many people have slandered me with the accusation that I do not believe in the power of God. Often they will try to demean me with words like, "How many people have you raised from the dead?" Were it God's will for me to raise the dead back to life then that is what I would be doing. Instead I am led to help others heal from the damage false teachers like Hogan leave in their wake.
We are called to warn and provide resources. It's up to you to help spread the word in order to snatch Christians away from the deceptive flames of this.
Is your church following the directives of Leadership Network? If you don't know, you might want to find out. The latest push from this global organization is a book, A Year With Peter Drucker. Before your elders pick up a copy, you might want to ask them what they know about the influence of Peter Drucker.
If that name is unfamiliar to you, Drucker is known as the father of the seeker-friendly megachurch business model that treats Christians as customers. Drucker's "Big Three" proteges are Rick Warren of Saddleback, Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Association, and Bob Buford of Leadership Network.
With that bit of background, take some time to read up on how Leadership Network - in its own words from its own website - continues to push forth Drucker's business model to evangelical leaders:
How Evangelical Leaders Can Spend a Year Learning from Peter Drucker
By Warren Bird, Leadership Network
If you’ve ever used the words decentralization, knowledge worker, management by objectives, or privatization, you’ve been influenced by Peter Drucker, who coined all of them – and more. In the church world, if your ministry has been impacted by Rick Warren and Saddleback Church, Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel, or Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church, then you’ve also been influenced by Drucker, who developed a significant mentoring relationship with each of these leaders and organizations.
Drucker (1909-2005), who described himself as a “social ecologist,” was also a personal mentor for more than 25 years to Leadership Network co-founder Bob Buford, whose most recent book, Drucker & Me, highlights Drucker’s relationship to Leadership Network and to various evangelical church leaders. Events sponsored by Leadership Network often featured Drucker as a speaker, offering opportunities to meet with Drucker in small groups over shared meals.
Now for those who want to dig deeper into Drucker’s writing themselves, a new book, A Year with Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness, makes Drucker’s ideas accessible in bite-size excerpts. The author is longtime Drucker associate Joseph A. Maciariello, who Bob Buford describes “the authority on Peter Drucker” – quite an accolade given Drucker’s four million word output spanning 39 books, dozens of scholarly articles and hundreds of newspaper essays.
Evangelical readers will find particular interest in Maciariello’s choice of topics in his week-by-week clustering. An entire section is titled “Developing Oneself from Success to Significance.” (Week 38 to Week 43). Other sections touch on everything from leadership succession to leadership goals. In fact, Leadership Network supplied so many transcripts and other materials to the author that his opening acknowledgment reads: “I first want to thank Bob Buford….”
The book has received positive reviews, such as the The Wall Street Journal. Heady but consistently insightful, it offers a top-flight one-book overview of the core coaching that Drucker gave to many evangelical leaders.
Dumb question: Why does the visible church think that it needs Hollywood movies to draw people to Jesus Christ? Why do so-called anointed pastors feel they need to use sermons designed by Christian mystics who dramatize a very different Jesus and a different gospel?
The newest Easter fad is A.D., the Roma Downey/Mark Burnett-produced film that some powerful pastoral pontificators want you to immerse yourself in on Resurrection Sunday. But don't stop at just Easter; make sure your small groups and your church bulletins are aligned under the mantle mandate.
They offer the Church 5 reasons to jump on their bandwagon. May I humbly suggest that you read these - and just for fun, substitute in your mind the word, "Scripture."
If you're thinking about ways to use the A.D. series in your church, here are five things you can do today to get your congregation ready for this special event.
2. Order the A.D. Digital Church Kit and get access to sermons and streaming videos.
3. Get free A.D. Digital Downloads including bulletin insert, printable invitation, and web/social media graphics.
4. Launch A.D. small groups and open those groups to anyone interested in learning more during the 12 week series.
5. Order A.D. customizable resources like indoor and outdoor banners, bulletin shells, postcards, and door hangers and use them to increase participation during your series and small groups.
We're excited to see how God will use this TV series to open hearts and introduce people to the story of Jesus. Get your church ready to take this message to their neighbors and friends!
Why are so many preachers now talking about mantles? We hear them figuratively "bestowing a mantle on the next generation," like Hillsong's Christine Cain did at Passion 2015, or Saddleback's Kenny Luck talking about how we have a mantle of leadership. or we see preachers like Chuck Pierce literally give a mantle in the form of a sparkly cloak to Mormon Glenn Beck and his wife during a service in March. Where do we find this bestowing in Scripture? Prophets often wore cloaks called mantles, but there is one place where it is used as a calling for a specific purpose: in 2 Kings in Chapter 2 we see Elisha receiving a "mantle" (a cloak) in a very unique situation from the prophet Elijah, and this act has not been duplicated. Well, until now. Those preachers calling themselves apostles have resurrected this practice as some sort of religious calling from what they say is the Holy Spirit Himself, and it usually involves works.
Got Questions puts it this way:
Although there are variations of the meaning of mantle in the Bible, the main idea is that of a covering such as a cloak or other article of clothing. The New American Standard Bible uses the word mantle in Joshua 7:21 and Hebrews 1:12. In the former passage, the ESV translates the word as “cloak” and, in the latter, “robe.” In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment made of animal skin, probably sheepskin. Several people are mentioned as wearing a mantle, including Job (Job 1:20) and Ezra (Ezra 9:5).
Prophets were known for wearing mantles as a sign of their calling from God (1 Kings 19:13). The prophet Samuel wore a mantle (1 Samuel 15:27). The prophet Elijah “threw his cloak around [Elisha]” as a symbol of Elijah’s ministry being passed on to Elisha. The prophet’s mantle was an indication of his authority and responsibility as God’s chosen spokesman (2 Kings 2:8). Elisha was not confused as to what Elijah was doing; the putting on of his mantle made his election clear.
Some theologians see the mantle as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. For example, in 2 Kings 2:14 Elisha takes the mantle that had “fallen” from Elijah, similar to how Jesus received the Spirit “descending” on Him at His baptism (Matthew 3:16). The audible voice of God in Matthew 3:17 confirms Jesus as God’s chosen servant (cf. Isaiah 42:1). We see a similar “falling” of the Spirit in Acts 8:15–16 and Acts 10:44. It’s only after Elisha takes the fallen mantle that he performs miraculous works (2 Kings 2:14, 21, 24). The Holy Spirit is the Person who empowers God’s people to do God’s work (Micah 3:8; Matthew 12:28; Ephesians 3:16).
The mantle served the practical purpose of keeping people warm and protecting them from the elements. It also served a symbolic purpose, in the case of the prophets, showing they were wrapped in God’s authority. Like all imagery in the Old Testament, the mantle presents a visible representation of a New Testament principle. The mantle can be seen as a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit whom God so graciously gives to all Christians, the people of His choosing (1 Thessalonians 1:5–6; 1 Peter 2:9).
LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all "experiential testimonies about heaven" following consideration of a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on "the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife."
LifeWay told Baptist Press about its decision to halt sales of heaven visitation resources today (March 24) in response to an inquiry about the book "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper, which is being made into a movie slated for release this fall. The book recounts Piper's supposed experience of heaven following a severe auto accident and has sold 6.5 million copies in 46 languages.
"Last summer, as we began developing LifeWay's new structure and direction -- what we've now identified as One LifeWay -- the role of heaven visitation resources was included in our considerations. We decided these experiential testimonies about heaven would not be a part of our new direction, so we stopped re-ordering them for our stores last summer," LifeWay spokesman Marty King told Baptist Press in written comments.
"Now that we've begun implementing the new direction, the remaining heaven visitation items have been removed from our stores and website and will not be replenished. We have more work to do aligning the LifeWay Retail Division with LifeWay's vision and core values so we covet your prayers as we continue to provide trustworthy Biblical Solutions for Life," King said.
Though LifeWay "was not mentioned in the SBC resolution affirming the sufficiency of biblical revelation and affirming the truth about heaven and hell," King told BP in an interview, "the resolution was approved overwhelmingly and was considered during our process."
The resolution, adopted by messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June, warned Christians not to allow "the numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience" to "become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife."
The resolution did not list specific book or movie titles, but it seemed to describe works like "90 Minutes in Heaven," "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" by Kevin and Alex Malarkey and "Heaven Is for Real" by Todd Burpo along with its companion movie released last year by Sony Pictures.
The resolution affirmed "the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one's understanding of the truth about heaven and hell."
In January, LifeWay announced it would stop selling "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" after coauthor Alex Malarkey admitted that he lied about having a vision of heaven as a 6-year-old. See related BP story. At the time, King said LifeWay was "committed to becoming even more proactive in the next few months in evaluating the resources we carry."
Giving Films announced the completion of filming for "90 Minutes in Heaven" March 12. The movie stars Hayden Christensen of "Star Wars" and Kate Bosworth of "Superman Returns." The film also features veteran actor and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson as well as singers Michael W. Smith and Dwight Yoakam, according to a news release from Giving Films.
"I'm an ordinary man with an extraordinary story," Piper said according to the news release. "I want people to see hope in their challenges, to see that pain can come with purpose."
Via Garrett Haley over at ChristianNewsnet:
TURLOCK, Calif. – A Christian campus organization has lost recognition from its university and been accused of “religious discrimination” for not allowing non-Christians to hold leadership positions in the group.
Chi Alpha is a national student ministry organization with a presence in over 300 college campuses across the United States. According to the group’s website, Chi Alpha exists to “reconcile students to Christ, equipping them through Spirit-filled communities of prayer, worship, fellowship, discipleship and mission to transform the university, the marketplace and the world.”
On September 11, 2014, Chi Alpha’s chapter at California State University-Stanislaus was informed by the university that the group would no longer be recognized as a campus organization. The school accused the organization of religious discrimination and abruptly severed ties with the Christian group.
In a letter mailed last week to Cal State Stanislaus, Chi Alpha’s National Director, E. Scott Martin, explained that the Christian group was effectively “exiled from campus.”
“Within twenty-four hours, university personnel locked Chi Alpha students out of their reserved meeting space and forced them to hold their meetings off campus—in effect our Chi Alpha chapter was exiled from campus,” Martin wrote. “The harm from these incidents is ongoing, as it continues to affect Chi Alpha’s student members to this day.”
Chi Alpha was allegedly kicked off the Cal State Stanislaus campus because, although any student can become a member of the group, its leaders must affirm the organization’s Christian beliefs. University officials claim that this requirement violates the school’s non-discrimination policy.
“No campus shall recognize any fraternity, sorority, living group, honor society, or other student organization that discriminates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability,” states the university’s official policy.
The "Reformation Project," an LGBTQ advocacy group dedicated to making all churches gay affirming and accepting, is getting a huge spread in Time magazine this month. The project's founder, Matthew Vines, is trumpeting the article as proof that his work is making inroads into the hearts and minds of Christians who once held firm to what the bible has to say about homosexuality, and who now hold firmer to what the popular culture has to say. An excerpt from the magazine highlights the impact Vines has had on the visible church:
The generational shift is easy to spot elsewhere. Consider the Reformation Project, a Wichita, Kans.–based effort by 24-year-old gay evangelical activist Matthew Vines to raise up LGBT-affirming voices in every evangelical church in the country. To reach that goal, he is training reformers in batches of 40 to 50 at regional leadership workshops who can go back to their home churches and serve as advocates for LGBT inclusion. The Reformation Project has staffers in three states, representatives in 25 more and plans for a presence in all 50 states by 2018.
At the group’s conference in Washington, D.C., in early November, some 300 people came from some of the country’s largest megachurches... “The LGBT issue has been one of the most obvious forces behind the increasing loss of regard for Christianity in American culture at large,” Vines says. “It’s like slavery and anti-Semitism, where the tradition got it totally wrong. It’s one of the church’s profound moral failures.”
If you are a paid subscriber, Time will let you read the entire article. Even better, head tosite for an in-depth analysis.
One of the most talented new groups singing carols is Pentatonix, a five-member band who has more talent than most of us have ever heard before. I see my friends posting their music videos, and am struck with wonder at how perfectly harmonized these singers are together. NOTE: The reason I wrote about this is not to point fingers at the world, but to ask questions of the visible Church. A big shift is happening, and many are going along with the cultural tsunami rather than make waves being set apart.