Thursday, August 7, 2008

It Has a Name: Mystical Deception Project.

Yes, I chose a name (although I found another website by this same name today,sigh ! :( Already a correction needed. Apparently I left the word Trails out of the LighthouseTrailsResearch link (to the left). I hope that no one was confused if they found lighthouses instead of info on Contemplative Spirituality (thanks Carol).

Ok, time to “get to it”!!

The Mystical Deception that concerns me begins with some practices that have gradually been creeping into the Christian church over the last decade or so. Some of these practices you might be familiar with, others not. Spiritual formation, contemplative or centering prayer and solitude/silence are the topics I will define today. I will also define Christian meditation and show how it differs from contemplative prayer. There are some other terms included in this post that will be defined in the next one (New Age, mantra, altered state of consciousness, false-self, breathing exercises, visualization, as well as more terms, lectio divina, breath prayer, Jesus prayer)
Negotiating the blog (the links within the post are not working, so I have disabled them. The definitions above are at the end of the post)
((Any word or phrase that is underlined and a different color of text is (hopefully, if I’ve done it right) a hyperlink. When you point your mouse and click on that word, the link will take you first to the short definitions I have included in the post/blog, or to a much longer description in a different location on the web, eg. Wikipedia. And in some cases, it will take you to an article in someone else’s blog or website. My goal is to give proper references to any information that is quoted or extracted from books or articles.))

How big is the problem?
These practices are found in many secular and Christian settings. They are not unChristian in and of themselves. In fact, many of these definitions seem just fine on the surface.
However, if an unsuspecting or undiscerning young Christian, new believer, or even someone seeking a deeper relationship with God, comes upon these teachings, they can be misled into dangerous places. I believe, along with a growing number of Christians, that contemplative meditation is dangerous, and I want to warn others of its similarity to mysticism
and New Age practices:

“Mystical practices are now widely embraced and taught in secular and professed Christian seminaries, colleges, universities, organizations, ministries and seminars, etc. throughout the United States. Academic promoters have introduced these practices into the fields of medicine, business and law while countless secular and Christian books, magazines, seminars, and retreats are teaching lay people how to incorporate them into their daily lives. Promoters promise physical, mental and spiritual benefits desiring to bring about positive social change.”

“Many people would be quite surprised to find that meditation has made its way into both Catholic and Protestant churches on a large scale. Although some would argue that it is not New Age meditation but rather a form of prayer, I would beg to differ. Upon close examination, the methods used (mantra, breathing) are identical to New Age techniques. Only the connotation is changed.”

“Many people assume centering prayer is compatible with Catholic tradition, but in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave."

CP is Dangerous!

As you can see, these writers who oppose Contemplative Prayer (CP) believe that it is dangerous, mystical, like New Age, and not of God. What do they see that is wrong? To begin with, the definitions don’t tell the whole story. (Although even these definitions from Wikipedia are suspect since they imply unBiblical concepts).
One writer believes it is NOT prayer but mystical meditation producing bodily sensations:

“Contemplative Prayer is not Biblical prayer at all, rather it is a type of mystical meditation leading the mind into an altered state of consciousness. It goes beyond thought, providing an experiential union with so-called God or with nature producing body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections.
It is based on “experiences” rather than sound doctrine.

There is even a warning!!!
One of the proponents, Richard Foster, warns that this practice is not for the novice and that one should pray a prayer of protection before attempting it because, “there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance. Some spiritual beings are not in cooperation with God and His way.” Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home (NY: Harper Collins, 1992), 156-157

So, CP has some features or practices that are mystical in nature, focus on “experiences” and lead the mind into an altered state of consciousness (this will be defined the next time). There are things happening with CP that are dangerous and not for the novice, yet it is being taught to people of all ages, including youth and young children. What are some of the other things included in CP?

“Themes that one finds echoed in the CP movement include the notions that true prayer is silent, is beyond words, is beyond thought, does away with the “false self,” triggers transformation of consciousness, and is an awakening. Suggested techniques of­ten include breathing exercises, visualization, repetition of a word or phrase, and detachment from thinking.”

So what is CP exactly?

One of the best known proponents of the centering prayer technique, has delineated the guidelines for centering prayer:
1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself. Be in love and faith to God.
2. Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you (i.e. "Jesus", "Lord," "God," "Savior," "Abba," "Divine," "Shalom," "Spirit," "Love," etc.).
3. Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you.
4. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor.
Ideally, the prayer will reach the point where the person is not engaged in their thoughts as they arrive on their stream of consciousness. This is the "unknowing" referenced in the 14th century book.
M. Basil Pennington (1986), "Centering Prayer: Refining the Rules," "Review for Religious," 46:3, 386-393.

The Biblical arguments against CP: + a WARNING!!

1. No where in the Bible is silence equated with prayer.
“we can get deep insights when we are quiet. But simply trying to be quiet is not prayer, and there is no biblical basis for the belief that real prayer is wordless. After all, God has given us a written revelation, and God's laws and words are acclaimed throughout the Bible, such as Psalm 119, which extols God's word as a treasure and lamp. In Is. 40:8, we learn, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever," and Jesus declares to the Father in Jn. 17:17, "Your word is truth."

2. No where in the Bible does it say that prayer should be without thinking.
“Yet in the Bible, meditation on God or on the words of God is never presented as an exercise without thinking. Many of the words translated as "meditation" in the Bible are words meaning to muse, ponder, utter, or make a sound. Most of these words are in Psalms where the psalmist is praising the precepts and words of God and affirming that these are what we should learn, obey, and think upon. This is definitely not leaving ordinary thinking for another level of consciousness”

3. No where in the Bible are we instructed to repeat a word or phrase. (in fact Matt 6:7-8 says the opposite!!)
“Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a "mantra," a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one's will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion.”

4. No where in the Bible is prayer an “experience”, rather it is a “relationship” and “talking to God”
“Centering prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as someone apart from oneself. The Christian knows a God who is personal, yet who, as Creator, infinitely transcends his creature.”

5. How do we know when we reach the place of “unknowing” that it is God who meets us there?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3,4

Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer?
By Marcia Montenegro

The Danger of Centering Prayer
By Rev. John D.Dreher

Contemplative Prayer: Seducing Spirits and a Doctrine of Devils
By Christine A. Narloch

Monday, August 4, 2008

New, as yet Nameless, Project

New Project, New Format-- This format is new for me so it may take some getting used to. I guess I need to say a little bit more about this new project and then why I feel so compelled to jump into it.

First, a few Scriptures-- What does the Word say about this? I encourage you to check out just a few of these verses to see what has motivated me. 1 John 4:1 tell us to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. Rev 2:2 Jesus commends the church for testing those who claimed to be speaking for Him. Titus 1:9 says that we are to hold to the true message, encourage sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. 1 Thess 5:21 we are to test everything and hold on to the good. Is 5:20 warns those who call evil good and good evil. Acts 17:11 teaches to examine the Scriptures to see if what is being taught is true. Rev 2:17 says that he who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Project-- Needs a Name. Suggestions welcome!! The subject matter is so BROAD!!! Contemplative Spirituality (don't worry, I will define and explain all words/terms as I add new posts), Ancient Future Worship, Emerging Church, Postmodernism, New Gospel, New Jesus, Spiritual Formation, Centering Prayer, Yoga, New Age, and more and more!!! The project involves researching all the people, organizations, events, books, concepts, and practices that are part of a new anti-Biblical movement that looks and smells very, very Christian. But it is quite heretical in nature. In fact, some of you may be shocked and surprised over what I am going to be reporting in this blog. I will be referring you to websites and other blogs as my resources for this research, so you can check it out for yourself (see on the left and below all posts)

Purpose-- Simply to educate and inform. I do not wish to try to convince anyone that I am right and that they must read/accept what I report. In fact, I welcome questions and even criticisms and will respond as best I can. Blogs allow this kind of feedback and I encourage you to use it. I feel so very compelled by God to do this that I just cannot not (strong double negative!!) do it. In fact, my rational person would rather NOT do this. It is controversial, involves many well-respected Christian men and women and organizations and is receiving lots of criticism and negative responses in the blogs and websites where it is being exposed. Why would I want to contribute one more?

Brief testimony-- As some of you know, before I became a born-again Christian, I was a New Ager. I had been born into a Christian family, attended church, even was confirmed in the Lutheran Church when I was a young teen. However, I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and so rejected the truth when I took a class in anthropology at age 19. That led me into a 20+ year journey away from Christ and into the New Age Christ. Totally different people!!! Because I was so deceived and misled, I have a deep conviction to not see others deceived and misled in the same way. Thus, my interest in contributing one more voice.

What's already available?-- Although there is a great deal of information available in this area of research (see on the left and below for websites to visit. I will be adding to this list) in books, DVDs, MP3s, podcasts, journals, magazine articles, newspaper articles, websites, blogs, etc., it is not organized in one single place and is not easily retrievable depending on what you want to do with it. Therefore, I am feeling compelled to develop a personal data base that is organized by individuals, the books that they have written and endorsed, the organizations and events they are participating in and what they are specifically saying about a large variety of subject matter. An enormous and intimidating task that one should really count the cost of before taking on. But, if God wants this to happen, He can make it so (Phil 4:13). I pray daily for guidance and direction and covet your prayers in this as well.

How will I use this database?-- I am praying for opportunity, and have already had one chance, to present this heresy here in Ukraine. I want to warn the Family of God about something that is silently creeping (and has been for the last 10 years) into the Christian church. Because God has given me "ears to hear", I can not sit idly by and watch this aposty happen. May He give me the courage and strength I need!

My next post will begin to "get into it"!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Georgia's Prayer letter - July 2008

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Praises: For safe, easy travel and good family and friends. Prayer:For my new project and for the orphans and mentors.
Beautiful Lake Tahoe
CHANGES!--What happened to my prayer letter??? I have some new issues to deal with that are going to change my prayer letter once again. The first has to do with technology. In order to save a little money, I cancelled my ATT account when I was in the States. I checked with them to make sure my Yahoo account would continue to function even if I did not pay for internet access through ATT. What I failed to ask is whether all the "extras" would also still function. As a result, I have lost the storage space for my HTML prayer letters and also the ability to download my email into Outlook. Such is life. Of course, I can still pay for these features, but I am looking for alternatives and have a few to consider. In the meantime, my prayer letter is going to be boring and plain.

MORE CHANGES!-- I have been praying for what God would have me do now that I believe He has said I am not to move to Mariupol. I need to have ministry in Kiev and I need to be involved with a church. So, it seems as though He has done both. I mentioned in my brief note last month that my friend Carol from San Diego was going to return with me to Kiev so that we could work on a project together. She was here for a month and we did a lot of work together. This project involves some new beliefs and practices that have already infiltrated many mainline denominational and evangelical churches in America. It is my belief that this apostasy is coming to Ukraine as well. Before Carol left, God provided an opportunity to present this information to Pastor Alosya of the Kiev Calvary Chapel. And there have been many informal opportunities to talk with other missionary friends and some young Ukrainian friends. The Ukrainians confirmed that they had been reading some of the books and authors that I mentioned. But, this is very controversial area. There are many well-respected and well-read pastors and other Christian teachers who have shifted their beliefs away from the true gospel. So, I have prayerfully decided that rather than send you something that confuses or even offends you, I will provide my updates on this subject via a blog. I have resisted entering into the world of blogging (it can be addictive, you know), even though I know many who do. But now it seems like this is the time. If you are interested in reading about my new project, you can go to (you must be here!!!)

What's Up in Mariupol?-- The babyshka who wants to sell us the apartment still believes that she can make that happen. I told Misha that I would believe it when I saw it!! She feels that she has negotiated a deal with the other two owners (ex-wife and son) of the flat and that she just needs to get the final paperwork completed. Well that was almost two weeks ago and we have heard nothing. So, we continue to rent it and at least we will know if she tries to sell it someone else!! In early spring, Yuri, our young YA who is living in that apartment. told Toma that he would like to join our YAODM program fully, with a mentor in all areas of life. This means that he will drop out of day school and enroll in correspondence school so that he can work full time. This is really good news (even though it means more cost to the ministry because the government was previously paying for Yuri's education and now we will), because Yuri now sees that he must take more responsibility for his life and he wants us to help him in doing that. He has a job and is planning to enroll in the correspondence method (only attending school to take exams) in August. Nellya will receive tutoring this year in order to prepare for taking entrance exams next March. Please pray for both of them to be able to make these adjustments.

Health-- I usually have lots to do when I take my annual trip to the States, but this time was busier than usual. I had my medical checkup and, praises to the Lord, my health is good. I am actually taking a German version of Synthroid (for low thyroid) that my doctor in America has approved. I can buy it here for less cost and don't have to worry about taking enough with me or having it get lost in the mail (this has happened twice in the last 5 years). I also purchased, over the internet, a small hearing aid. Technology has really changed these devices in the last 10 years. Mine is not expensive and does not have all the capabilities of the more expensive ones, but it is WORKING for me. I can hear much better, especially when I am outside or in a large room. It does take getting used to, though.

Family-- Being with Family was good too. I was able to take each of my grandkids for our once-a-year "date" and enjoyed every minute of that. I was able to see almost all of them participating in their most current pastimes and sports (acting, lacrosse and baseball/softball). All the boys, except Trevor, are playing lacrosse these days. It is a new game for me and I had to watch closely to even see the ball. It is fast and physical, but they love it. And they are good at it. Trevor swims, plays water polo and is part of a Christian Youth Theater group for kids between 8 and 18. He was in High School Musical while I was there. It was amazing to me how professionally these young kids act, sing and dance. Cassidy is playing softball and learning how to be a pitcher. Ethan may have played his last year of little league. Even though he is an excellent player and can play many positions, he likes lots of action and he says the game is just too slow for him. So he will play lacrosse in the fall also. Taylor is driving!!! Holden and Tristan are enjoying lacrosse, playing music, and just being boys. All 4 oldest boys will be teenagers by this fall. Yikes!!!

Friends-- Great spending time with many of you in San Diego, Sacramento and Concord. And I sincerely apologize for not being able to see all of you. I also had opportunities to visit friends in Florida who formerly lived in Kiev. Eric and Cindy and their three boys now live in Orlando, and my friend Roxanne, who now lives in North Carolina, was visiting in Florida when I was there. (Nice how God arranges things sometimes!) In Concord I stayed with Scott and Becky whose pastor, Terry, gave me a chance to present my mission ministry to their church. I spent 5 days at beautiful Lake Tahoe with my friends Sharon and Larry. They have a wonderful, cozy home there and spend the whole summer with many guests coming and going.
Had dinner with Rick and Susie and my Sacramento family in their newly remodeled back yard!! Very beautiful. My thanks to everyone for your hospitality, lunches, dinners, prayers, support and fellowship. I always put on weight when I make that visit! To get the rest of my news, you will have to read my new blog.

I will also be posting this regular prayer letter here, along with pictures.
Please do not feel obliged to do so and I will not be offended if you don't. God is still at work in Ukraine and all over the world. Each of us has a part to do while we wait anxiously for His glorious return.

Taking up my cross Daily,