Category Archives: Apostasy Watch -current issues

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Adult Coloring and Meditation –What Every Christian Should Know

Adult Coloring and Meditation –What Every Christian Should Know

by Jessica Pickowicz

March 15, 2016

Last February, during our family staycation, I bought my first adult coloring book… And I even colored in it…. Phew… There. I
said it. I feel so relieved to get that off my chest!

It seems a bit crazy that I would be even a little ashamed or intimidated to admit that publicly. But here it is. And right now there
is an argument peppering Twitter and the blogosphere regarding Christians and the adult coloring fad. Some are mocking; others
are getting offended; and still others are sitting back with popcorn in one hand and a stick in the other; poking the bear! Even I
have, regretfully, thrown my hat into the ring. I say regretfully because (though hilarious) it seems somewhat petty and snarky
and self-righteous to bash adult coloring. After all, as Tim Challies articulates in his recent article on the topic, it is just a hobby –
like golfing, knitting, tennis, or painting “happy little trees”. Furthermore, it can very well be exercised all to the glory of God.
And I, lover of adult coloring, respond with a hearty, “Amen!”
Challies is right. When it is just a hobby, adult coloring is a perfectly innocent past-time. It’s fun. It’s calming. It’s clean! It’s a great
mommy alternative to the My Little Pony and Ninja Turtle coloring books when coloring with the kids. It’s even occupational and
physical therapy, bringing vibrancy, joy, and art into the hands of people struggling with dementia, depression, ADHD, Autism,
and those with fine-motor and sensory struggles brought on by neurological diseases such as ALS, MS, and Parkinson’s — just to
name a few. By itself, adult coloring is a beautiful thing!
Sadly, what many people don’t know is that there is another fad sweeping the nation, and adult coloring books are at the heart of
it. The fad is meditative coloring. And it’s infiltrating the prayer lives of Christian women everywhere.
Meditative coloring is the practice of coloring specific patterns while emptying the mind, allowing thoughts to roam free, and
achieving spiritual enlightenment. Some of these specific patterns are called mandalas. Mandalas are spiritual symbols and
patterns used by Eastern religions for meditation purposes “allowing the individual meditating to become one with the
Universe.”¹ And it’s a challenge to find an adult coloring book that isn’t riddled with them. Gaining popularity, a few laps ahead of meditative coloring, is the practice among Christians of contemplative prayer. I don’t
have the space here to go into a detailed explanation of this heresy. But it’s important to educate yourself, and you can read about
it here. With the rise of the Word of Faith movement, the Prosperity movement, the increasing popularity of women authors such
as Priscilla Shirer and Sarah Young, and movies such as War Room; prayer as defined by and commanded in the Bible has been
grossly shirked aside (by women especially) in favor of a more ecstatic, meditative, emotional, new-age, and downright heretical

I conflate meditative coloring and contemplative prayer in this article because I feel that contemplative prayer is a very slippery
slope that lends itself too easily to the practice of meditative coloring, especially with the massive output of Christian and
Inspirational themed adult coloring books.

A warning to Christian women dabbling in these practices:
My aim is not to be harsh here, but I must be serious for a moment. The Bible teaches us how to pray. Moreover, it commands us
to pray and meditate in very specific terms — the only right way according to God. If we are not praying as Scripture commands,
we are not obeying God and are therefore in sin.

Please do not use these coloring books in conjunction with prayer and meditation, contemplative or otherwise. Do not empty
your mind. Ladies, please do not sit down to color and wait for a word fromGod! Please do not chant over and over (as in a mantra) a declarative “life-verse” from a page in your Scripture coloring book. Donot allow yourself to be entranced through the exercise of meditative coloring. These practices are pagan. They are the very thingScripture warns against.

How the Bible Commands us to pray and meditate:

1. Don’t empty your mind. Fill your mind with the Truth of God’s Holy Word!
Meditation as practiced by Eastern religions is much different than the meditation commanded in the Bible. While Eastern
meditation focuses on emptying the mind and a spiritual ascension into enlightenment; Scriptural meditation focuses on setting
the mind on a biblical truth and a realized application of that truth.
In Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul instructs us not to conform with the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our
minds. Our minds are renewed through the study of His Word. We must store up His word in our hearts, and let it dwell in us
richly, so that we don’t sin against Him (Colossians 3:16 and Psalm 119:11).

2. Don’t let your thoughts wander. Take your thoughts captive and put them in obedience to Christ!
When we allow our thoughts to wander, the carnal mind, which is enmity toward God (Romans 8:7) roams to fleshly desires and
frightening depths; and the deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) cannot discern sin on its own. Therefore, we must take our thoughts
captive and put them into submission to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)!
So you see, a deceitful heart and a wandering mind are the perfect ingredients for a false prophetic word from God. Today, in the
Church Age, God speaks to us through his Word not meditative prayer!

3. Don’t chant things over and over as a mantra. Memorize his word. Having a controlled mind is a spiritual discipline
commanded in Scripture.

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus instructs, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetition as the heathen [Pagans] do. For they think that
they will be heard for their many words.”

In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter instructs Christians further to “gird up the loins [the loose fabric] of your mind,
be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (See also Ephesians
6:14); and to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Peter 4:7).”

4. Do not attempt to manipulate God through positive confession. Instead, ask Him.

We must not assume anything upon God. We must not treat Him like a Genie and demand His blessings according to what is
right in our own eyes (Proverbs 21:2). For His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)!

In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul instructs, “Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

5. Finally, Jesus and the faithful heroes/heroines of Scripture provides us with the best models of prayer. Be imitators of them!

John 17:1-26 – Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.

Luke 11:1-13 – Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray.

Luke 1:46-55 – Mary’s prayer, The Magnificat.

Ephesians 3:14-21 – Here, the Apostle Paul models prayer, along with many other places in the Bible.

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so
easily ensnares us, and and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of
our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God.”

Prayer is powerful when practiced as God commands in His Word. Use it wisely. For the prayer of the righteous accomplishes
much (James 5:16).

All this to say, let’s keep our prayers and our coloring hobbies separate.

¹”MANDALAS, WHAT ARE THEY?” at  Spiritual Awakening
Jessica is wife to New England pastor Nate Pickowicz. She is a homeschooling mom of two. She is a passionate writer who has a
big heart for biblical teaching and women’s ministry.

Guest Post: Adult Coloring and Meditation – What Every Christian Should Know

LOTZ … Of Nonsense

LOTZ … Of Nonsense

Bud Ahlheim14 –Apr, 2016


While discernment is a mandated chore for every Christian, one that can only be finely honed by the Spirit-illuminated study of Scripture, sometimes it doesn’t take a whole bunch of that skill to recognize the smell of hermeneutical road kill that’s trying to be passed off as spiritual barbecue.

Such is the case with Anne Graham Lotz. That she has parlayed her father’s almost hallowed name within evangelicalism into what some see as a reputable “ministry” is probably no surprise, especially when viewed from a, shall we say, more pragmatic fiscal perspective. That hers is a “reputable” ministry, one “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is another matter altogether. Then, of course, there’s the even more fundamental question,Should SHE even be doing this?” (1 Timothy 2:12)

In any case, Lotz has a nifty name for her endeavor that, no doubt for her, is imbued with significant spiritual meaning – AnGeL Ministries. You’ll note, in what can only be seen, perhaps, as divine providence, that the word “angel” is built around her monogram. Neat-o, huh?

Lotz, though, has a substantial history of “imbuing” things with spiritual meaning that, most often, represent bonafide violence to both the text and tenor of Scripture. She ought imbue less, methinks, and abide more in the Word.

From Lassoing Baptists With Wiccan Prayer Circles by promoting a Jewish Mystic to now emphasizing a prophetic “word from the Lord” about the woeful spiritual condition of America, Lotz has made herself into a modern day prophetess.

From her own website, Lotz, in April 2015, advised her followers that, as a result of studying the Book of Joel, and because “the messages almost made the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” (always a valid hermeneutic) she was certain Jesus “is soon to return to take all His followers to heaven.” You may ask how she knows this. “Because God was clearly warning that His judgment is coming on America and on our world, and it’s going to be ugly. I knew it then, and I know it now.”  (God was, you understand, talking about America back there in the days of Joel.  Try to keep up, okay?)

Okay, well, hmmm. Yes, we are told, by Jesus, no less, to be ready. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)  Well, Lotz didn’t prophesy a date and time, so maybe she’s in the clear on this one.

But, “it’s going to be ugly?” Sadly, for many people, the righteous wrath of God as He judges sin will be ugly. It will be ugly, terminal, and eternal. But not for believers, since we tend to believe that we have been justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Any warnings of ugliness should be to motivate us to “preach the Gospel,” not shudder in fear of a judgment for which Christ has paid our ransom.

Lotz points out the ugliness in her 2015 blog because she wanted to offer “a prayer I have written personally for each of the 9 days,” … “for those who sign up.” The “9 days” are the dates she identifies as May 15 – May 23, the days “between the Day of the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost.” You see, those have “traditionally been days of prayer and fasting for an outpouring of God’s Spirit.” Oh, yeah, sure.

(Insert sound of annoying discernment tocsin here … again.)

Most believers understand the Pentecost event from Acts 2. What most tend to disregard is that this event was not the only “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” recorded in Acts. Similar events occurred with each of the geographic people groups Christ included in Acts 1:8. An outpouring occurred in Jerusalem and Judea with Jewish believers. (See Acts 2) It also occurred for the Samaritans and “God fearers.” (See Acts 8:14-17; Acts 10:44-48, Acts 11:13). Finally, it came to the Gentiles, notably under the ministry of the Apostle Paul. (See Acts 19:1-7)  Plus, that last outpouring?  Yeah, it was the last outpouring.  Not something happening in our day.

I don’t mean to be picky, but when Lotz offers special prayers based on those “9 days,” she disregards all those other days between the Acts 2 outpouring and the final outpouring in Acts 19 (which technically would be the dating most appropriate for a largely Gentile America, one would think) Still, she encouraged her followers to sign up, “Before it’s too late and judgment falls on our nation.” Plus, Lotz further specified her “Mayday! Mayday!” prayers of urgency as also being tied to the “days following three blood moons and a total solar eclipse.” (Somebody get Hagee on the phone cuz I thought there were four blood moons!)

Perhaps if you’ve not been comatose, even over the last week, and happened to turn to any national news broadcast, you’ve probably noticed what looks an awful lot like God “giving them up.” Being “given up,” as Paul describes in Romans 1, is judgment. And it’s not something that’s coming. It’s something that’s here.

Fast forward to this past January and Lotz is featured in Charisma News, Anne Graham Lotz Gives Prophetic Warning About 2016. Nice. “A prophetic warning.” I personally prefer Biblical prophetic warnings, but many seem to take a shine to “the daughter of a preacher man” when she takes on the mantle of prophetess.

Not commenting on why her 9 days of personally written prayers from 2015 did not change God’s mind as to His apparent judgment on America, Lotz wrote,  “I can feel the encroaching darkness of evil that is like a heavy moral and spiritual fog.” (Yep, and I can feel something encroaching, too … the disregard of Scripture.)

“I have been repeatedly warned in my spirit that the enemy is advancing,” she says. (Whump, there it is!  She gets extra-biblical warnings. I don’t.) Well, if you must know, I have been repeatedly warned that he is too … in Scripture. Plus, I’ve also been warned about being indiscriminately gullible. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

In consistent fashion, she goes on to reference texts of Scripture that apply to the Old Testament nation of Israel and proceeds to nationalistically narcigete them into messages from God for America. (Umm, no. We don’t do that.)

Again today, Lotz is back in the prophetic headlines in an article on The Christian Post, Anne Graham Lotz: God is Hiding From America, His Anger and Judgment Are Coming.  Honestly, it’s just surprising to me that God would be hiding from America. I mean, we’ve got terrestrial enemies that aren’t even afraid of us these days. What’s got God spooked?

Lotz thinks God may be “purposefully hiding himself from America in preparation for a coming judgment on the nation.” So now she ponders whether or not we’re in a Romans 1 judgment?  And that’s what sent our Sovereign God skulking away?  He is not a kitten hiding before pouncing on a ball of yarn, you know.  (Just a disclaimer, I’m not a prophet or genetically linked to a world famous evangelist or anything, but, yeah, judgment is here. And I knew it before today, too.)

“Billy Graham’s daughter has warned,” the article reads, “on numerous occasions in the past couple of years that God’s judgment on America is coming with the return of Jesus Christ to earth.” Well, much as I hate to see America go, I’m more in the “come Lord Jesus” camp. I’d like to see souls saved before that, of course, but they and I would eagerly forego the “America is the New Israel” salvation Lotz seems to want us to pray for.

Still, Lotz points out one thing going for her that most prophets and prophetesses don’t have. Imbuing herself, again, with providentially aligned spiritual significance, she says, “I was born just a week apart from the time when Israel was reborn as a nation [1948]. We are the same age.”  One time I looked at the moon at the very same time someone else was looking at the moon. That didn’t mean anything either.

Nothing like self-defined spiritual significance AND a tad of chronological numerology to give an air of credence to one’s Scriptural disregard and poor hermeneutics. Oh, yeah, and that last name thing doesn’t hurt either.

All in all, Lotz of nonsense. Stick to Scripture. That’s a bonafide “word from the Lord.”  The rest, though it seems like satire, is most assuredly NOT such a word.  “Test the spirits …”

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]

Darrin Patrick Removed from Acts 29 Megachurch for ‘Historical Pattern of Sin’

Darrin Patrick Removed from Acts 29 Megachurch for ‘Historical Pattern of Sin’

Investigation by The Journey found ‘pastoral misconduct’ in several areas of his life.
Darrin Patrick Removed from Acts 29 Megachurch for ‘Historical Pattern of Sin’Southeastern Seminary / Flickr

Darrin Patrick, vice president of the Acts 29 church planting network and founding pastor of The Journey megachurch in St. Louis, has been fired for violating his duties as a pastor.

The Journey cited a range of ongoing sinful behaviors over the past few years including manipulation, domineering, lack of biblical community, and “a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms.”

In a letter announcing its lead pastor’s removal after 14 years of leadership, the church clarified that adultery was not a factor, though elders looked into inappropriate interactions with two women.

“In short, I am a completely devastated man, utterly broken by my sin and in need of deep healing,” said Patrick in an apology to his 3,000-person congregation. “The way that the Journey elders have demonstrated their desire to see me restored to Jesus, as well as their love for me, Amie, and our family is nothing short of miraculous and beyond gracious.”

Patrick, the author of The Dude’s Guide to Manhood and Church Planter, will no longer hold any internal or external leadership positions. He has accepted financial support from the church for an undisclosed period of time, and he and his wife will undergo counseling. The 45-year-old pastor also served as a council member for The Gospel Coalition, St. Louis Cardinals chaplain, and Acts 29 podcast host. Patrick’s bio has been removed from the Acts 29 site.

Regarding his misconduct, The Journey elders wrote:

We have experienced and confronted these issues regularly and intentionally over the past few years. Each time, these confrontations have been followed by initial confession with short-term changes but quickly receded into unfulfilled promises, reversion to old patterns, and broken trust with pastors/elders. Though we all stumble in many ways, those called to teaching and preaching carry the weighty responsibility of setting an example of a Christ honoring lifestyle with the consequence of stricter judgment (James 3:1).

The Journey invites members of its community to send their questions to leaders and their support to the Patrick family through a page on its website. The multisite church has six locations in St. Louis and has launched seven church plants.

Patrick joins several other prominent evangelical leaders who CT noted left office for reasons outside of financial or sexual impropriety.

John Piper took leave from his church in 2010, citing his need for “a reality check from the Holy Spirit.” The following year, Sovereign Grace Ministries president C. J. Mahaney stepped down due to “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy.” Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll resigned in 2014, after his church found him guilty of arrogance and domineering leadership. Patrick was part of the Acts 29 board that removed Driscoll, its founder, from leadership and membership.

A full copy of The Journey’s letter regarding Patrick’s removal can be found here. CT blogger Ed Stetzer interviewed Patrick about church planting in 2010. He has also written about discipleship for Leadership Journal.

The Young Messiah’s Only Words

The Young Messiah’s Only Words

by Jordan Standridge
March 15, 2016
“Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Luke 2:49

Those are Jesus’ only recorded words in Scripture before the age of thirty. Nothing else. In fact we don’t have anything in Scripture about Jesus between the age of two and the age of thirty. Niente. Zilch. Nada.

Other than informing us about an escape to Egypt, The Sovereign God of the universe that gave us Scripture chose before the foundation of the world to only give us one story about Jesus’ life between his birth and the start of his ministry. It is only right for us to ask ourselves why is it so? Why in the world do we have only one story of a young Jesus?

Hollywood can make a two-hour long movie about Jesus in this time period, but I can already tell you without having watched it that the movie will disappoint any Bible believing Christian. I believe that there is a reason why God gives us only one recorded statement of Jesus.

Having had the recent privilege of preaching through Luke 2:41-52, I had to ask myself why Luke gives us only one sentence from Jesus. I’m sure he knew about stories of Jesus’s childhood. He must have, and yet he did not think Theophilus needed to know about them. I concluded that their absence only make the words he does include that much more powerful.

Luke has some serious implications in giving us only one statement from the childhood of Jesus. We must pay attention to what he has to say.

Jesus’ only words tell us that he is God

In Luke it seems as if everyone is announcing the divinity of Jesus. The angel Gabriel announces that he is God. Zechariah announces the Messiah. Elizabeth, as she is pregnant with John the Baptist, tells Mary that the baby in her womb is God. John the Baptist, as an infant in the womb, can’t help but leap for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice.

By Luke chapter 3, Mary and Joseph find out that they will be the parents of the Messiah. A host of angels, on the night of Christ’s birth, announce the birth of the Messiah to a group of shepherds. And the shepherds themselves go and worship their Creator in the manger, and leave from there as the first evangelists declaring that the Savior, Christ the Lord, was born. Simeon and Anna, who have been waiting for the Messiah for years, announce that he is the one who was promised. It seems as if the entire world has declared Jesus as God and there is one human left who must declare the divinity of Christ and that is Christ himself. And Luke lead by the Holy Spirit shows us that the young Messiah knew exactly who he was and that he was unashamed to say that he was the Son of God.

Jesus’ only words show us that He was always aware He was God

Although it would be fun to know stories about Jesus’s childhood, God in his sovereignty didn’t think it was necessary for our sanctification. The only thing we needed to know is whether or not Jesus always believed he was the Son of God or if it was something he made up later on in life. Luke provides us with the answer. Jesus’s words shock Mary, because she realizes that this young messiah already knows who his true father is. It’s not something he made up at the age of thirty. It is something he always believed and knew. Jesus Christ not only tells us with his own lips that he is the Son of God but he tells us that he had always believed and understood that.

I get Christian’s fascination with the young Jesus. I mean we have the God of the Universe, learning how to walk, learning how to talk, getting tired, sleeping, bleeding. His siblings mistreat him, and He holds the power of the universe in His hands. And yet we don’t need to know details about any of those things, the only thing we need to know, in this life, is whether or not he claimed to be God. And the New Testament emphatically shouts yes! The second question is did He always claim to be God? And thanks to Luke and this incredible story of Jesus in the temple we can emphatically shout yes! He was self-aware of His divinity and didn’t need anyone to tell Him. Unlike people who started false religions later on in life, Jesus always claimed to be not of this world.

Perhaps one day our curiosity will be satisfied in Heaven. Perhaps Mary and Joseph will tell us stories about Jesus and His incredible obedience. Jude, and James may tell us what it was like to grow up with a perfect older brother. Maybe Christ himself will tell us stories of His childhood, but until that day we can say yet again in unison, “Hey Hollywood! You can keep your movie, we’d rather read the book!”

The Young ‘Gnostic’ Messiah

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Young Gnostic Messiah

It wasn’t so long ago when radical liberals lined up attacks upon Christianity during the season of Good Friday and Easter. Liberals would be on media programs to promote (discredited) theories that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, or that the resurrection did not actually happen, and other such nonsense. Now however, Satan does not have to rely on the liberals and their attacks, which were so outrageous the attacks convinced no one but their liberal proponents themselves. Instead, Satan dresses up as an angel of light and is now attacking the Christian faith from within.

So what is the Trojan horse? This Good Friday/ Easter season, we have the so-called Christian movie The Young Messiah. To say that the movie is unbiblical is an understatement. Just from the trailer alone, there is enough material to indict the movie and its producers as being agents of the devil, willingly or unwillingly. It is unbiblical, blasphemous and Gnostic. Yes, it is Gnostic, with a capital “G.” It is astonishing that supposedly many Christian leaders have endorsed this movie. I know Evangelicalism has little if any depth in it, but these endorsements have stricken a new low for Evangelicalism, which is saying a lot since my estimation of the Evangelical movement was so low I thought I had reached rock bottom — even supporting the nativist and vulgar buffoon Donald Trump was not as bad as this!

The first and major problem with this (anti-) “Christian” movie is its Gnosticism. Gnosticism was an esoteric and eclectic movement in the first few centuries of the Church that attempted to fuse Eastern mystical religion, Greek philosophy, and elements of Christianity into a syncretistic religious soup. Gnosticism, like Neo-Platonism, elevates the spirit over matter. Matter is considered evil, and thus creation (matter, the universe) was made by a lesser and lower deity. The problem with man is not sin, but creatureliness. The body is the prison of the soul, and salvation is achieved by learning the path to liberation, towards pure spirit and towards the One, God. This path involves the gaining of secret knowledge (gnosis), and thus the movement is called Gnosticism.

As a false religion loosely affiliated with, and competing against Christianity, Gnosticism attempted to subvert the Christian faith and message. Spurious gospel accounts were written that made it seem as if Jesus were a Gnostic. Since the four Gospels were well distributed, Gnosticism tried to insert its message by “filling in the blanks” of Jesus’ life and ministry, and the first 30 years of that life would prove an excellent place to embellish the character and teaching of Jesus in their favor.

One such Gnostic text was the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, an anonymous text falsely ascribing as its author the Apostle Thomas. The text claims to fill up some of the unknown years of Jesus, during his childhood. In the trailer to the movie, we see an enactment of, or an allusion to, the scene from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas 1:2-3. In that text, the Gnostic writer claimed Jesus fashioned birds out of clay and then they came alive. In the trailer, we see Jesus at the beach rising to his feet with clasped hands and then opening his hands to reveal birds which flew away, so, while it isn’t clear in the trailer, it seems likely that the full scene in the movie will show Jesus making birds from clay, or rather sand.

The movie is thus Gnostic in its use of a Gnostic source, and in its “filling in the blanks” (basically lying) about the life of Jesus. This is not just plain artistic license and embellishment, but it is the whole movie, the creation/ adaptation of a totally fictional story about Jesus with no basis at all in the Scriptures and in real history. For the Christian leaders who endorse this blasphemous (in more ways than one) movie, is it their intent to state that the historicity of Jesus’ actual life and work do not matter, since a fictional tale about him is evidently just as valid as the biblical truth?

The second problem, a theological problem, lies in its portrayal of the young Jesus as someone struggling with existential angst concerning his calling. There are so many things wrong with this portrayal of Jesus. First of all, the trailer seems to indicate that Jesus came to realize his calling not from himself but through Mary. Secondly, Jesus was portrayed as someone learning how to become the Savior. Yes, the trailer cited Philippians 2:6-7, but, as far as I know, even the worst of the kenotics (those who hold that Jesus emptied himself of his divine attributes in the Incarnation) would balk at this portrayal of Jesus! If the trailer is accurate, the movie’s Christology is totally messed up. To say that Jesus learned to be the Messiah puts Jesus out as a man who became the Messiah, which is basically an Adoptionist Christology. This kind of doubting and angst, while making “Jesus” relatable to an angsty postmodern audience, is a practical denial of Christ’s deity and a rejection of Scripture’s actual portrayal of the young Jesus. The text misused in this trailer, Philippians 2:6-7, did not say that the Son ceased to be God in the Incarnation, but rather that He divested Himself of His heavenly privileges and glory, thus becoming a servant (as opposed to the Lord of heaven). The Son as a servant divested Himself of the exercise of his regnal authority, but He never ceased being the Son. Jesus continued to be God even while on earth! In the one section where we were given a glimpse into Jesus’ childhood (Lk. 2:41-51), we are shown a Jesus who already knew of his calling even at the young tender age of 12.

Yes, a young “Jesus” struggling with angst might be more relatable, but it is a false idolatrous representation of the real Jesus. The real Jesus from young knew who he was and what he was sent to do. The life of the historical young Jesus would not make for a good movie, but then Jesus came not for our entertainment but for our salvation! While Jesus was indeed human and suffered on this world, that does not mean that he faced the same angst as we do. In fact, ancient civilizations tend not to face our postmodern angst, for most people in ancient times struggle daily to put food on the table, while living in constant fear appeasing gods and spirits among them.

I am sure the actual movie would yield even more problems, as the footage concerning the Romans seem to indicate. But just from the trailer itself, we see a person portrayed that behaves all too differently from the biblical Jesus. It is manifestly shameless for the director of the film to think that this movie has anything remotely to do with the true Jesus. In an interview with Christianity Astray Today, the director even had the gall to denigrate orthodoxy, stating that one just have to have an emotional connection to the people on firm. While that might be fine with normal movies, this movie is marketing itself as a Christian movie about Jesus, which means it should be truthful at the very least, which this movie isn’t.

The Young Messiah is a work based upon false stories of Jesus. As such, all Christians should be warned against watching this Gnostic trash. If God did not see fit to give us details on Jesus’ first 30 years, then perhaps we should likewise not peer into the secret things of God.

What’s Inside John Piper’s Geodes?

What’s Inside John Piper’s Geodes?


geodeHere’s a true story: A man I once knew traveled during his youth to Colorado with a friend who was a knowledgeable mineralogist. They stopped at a field to take in the view, and as they walked the mineralogist stooped to pick up a roundish, mud-colored rock. With great excitement he took it back to his pickup, found a tool, and broke it open to reveal purplish crystals. He had found and recognized an amethyst geode. Now upon looking about, this man realized that the field was full of roundish, mud-colored rocks, and – knowing something of the price of these gemstones – he immediately went into town, found a land office, and bought the field. He then spent a few days gathering geodes, which he shipped out in a rented truck. He relisted the property before leaving town. Eventually it sold, but he had already turned a tidy profit by harvesting and selling amethyst from the rocks.

In addition to providing a real-life illustration of the Parable of the Buried Treasure, he demonstrated one important trait of the field geologist. It’s true that a field geologist needs to be able to walk through fields, to gather rocks, to break them up with hammers, and such like. However, what makes him effective is his ability to tell the difference between a rare or valuable rock and a common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill rock. He can discern one thing from another; that’s what geological training is all about. He has a form of discernment.

Now, let’s imagine that I were to attempt to reproduce this same feat! After all, I took two geology classes once upon a time. Problem is, I don’t remember much detail, and I’ve never worked in the field. The likelihood is that if I bought a field in Colorado, all I would get out of it is an overpriced rock pile. I have proven in my low-level classes that I can tromp around a field and swing a rock hammer, but I lack geological discernment: the “gemstones” I found might excite me, but no one with better discernment would pay me their weight in mud.

Piper’s Discernment

So last week, in the middle of the latest John Piper kerfuffle, I tweeted (not for the first time) that the man has no discernment at all. This brought about the usual reaction, mainly from people who didn’t bother to look up “discernment.” I was not, in fact, saying that John Piper has no talent, no grace, no ability, and has never done anything worthwhile in his life. In point of fact, I’ll admit that he’s pretty good at swinging the homiletical hammer, but I stand by the claim that he has no discernment.

The latest upheaval is over Piper’s silly article about Christians owning guns, a topic he first addressed some years ago. Now I’ll say this up front, of all the works of Piper which might raise outrage in the church, anti-second-amendment rhetoric is the very least. That said, the problem with both these articles is that Piper wants to funnel every discussion of gun-ownership and self-defense through the filter of evangelistic encounter. That’s nice and gospel-centered (TGC is kicking themselves for not publishing this first!) but fails to recognize the rather obvious facts that not every Christian is a missionary, not every circumstance is evangelistic, not every moral priority is gospel oriented, and not all violence is murder. Do you see how many categories get blurred when Piper speaks? That’s a discernment problem: he can’t tell one thing from another.


What’s to regret?

But this is hardly the biggest problem with Piper and discernment. I believe the last time I tweeted about his entire lack of discernment was after his tone-deaf insistence that his “friendship” with Mark Driscoll is something he doesn’t regret, in spite of the fact that Piper’s endorsement is largely responsible for catapulting the abusive, plagiarizing, money-grubbing mega-pastor into national prominence. And Driscoll is hardly the whole of the problem.

Over the years, Piper’s Desiring God conferences have promoted the preaching of such men as Sinclair Ferguson, James Boice, Iain Murray, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and David Wells. No doubt in their messages they delivered plenty of spiritual amethyst, and likely some rubies and emeralds as well. Sadly, there was also plenty of gravel on which the Desiring God attendees could break their teeth.  The same conferences also featured the likes of John Armstrong, Mark Driscoll, Crawford Loritts, Doug Wilson, Tope Koleoso, and – of course – the twin godfathers of the neo-evangelical calvinism lite that has swept the American religious scene: D.A. Carson and Tim Keller.

What’s sad is that Piper apparently doesn’t see any disconnect here. It’s as though he doesn’t see the difference between those two lists, which would mean that he is the spiritual equivalent of a geologist who can’t discern gemstones from beach sand.

And lest anyone say that I am cherry-picking the worst possible names for my list, be it known that I left the worst name off – not because it doesn’t belong, but because there is yet a further category of discernment which must be addressed: Piper’s greatest influences. We needn’t speculate here, he has repeatedly affirmed that two teachers have had the greatest influence on him.

The first of these is of course Jonathan Edwards. Opinions vary on Jonathan Edwards, but this much may be said: he is one of the most influential Christians in American history. His formulations, for good or for ill, have been foundational in the history of American Evangelicalism. Even my secular professors in university acknowledged Edwards as the first and perhaps greatest American intellectual. Theologians can and do debate whether his output consists of diamonds, amethyst, or simply good, serviceable quartzite, but the fact is that he is a substantial and important Christian teacher.

Piper’s other great influence, Dan Fuller, is merely a teacher – neither important nor, forgive me for stating the obvious, Christian. Fuller explicitly denies justification by faith alone, has opposed the principle of biblical inerrancy, and has – at the end of the day – become a rank antinomian, arguing against obedience to the law and insisting that Christians seek justification by living according to nebulous bits of advice which he argues are from the Spirit. Fuller is the theological equivalent of a quack – a dangerous man whose influence should be smothered. The output of his life’s work has been the doctrinal equivalent of a great pile of post-industrial slag, of which he spewed quite a bit at the 1994 Desiring God pastors’ conference.


“I’m not laughing. Do I look like I’m laughing?”

Yet Piper cannot see this. He blithely asserts that he is a follower of Edwards and Fuller, apparently unaware that this is the equivalent of claiming to be a political follower of Edmund Burke and Karl Marx, or of insisting that your preferred musical style is that of Cole Porter and Justin Bieber.

A pastor who cannot discern Edwards from Fuller is frankly little different from a mineralogist who can’t discern amethyst geodes from ordinary limestone. He has no – and yes I said no – discernment at all.

Lessons from Piper

Now I can well imagine that many will say that I should not be writing any of this because John Piper is so much more gifted and influential than I am. I fully admit it. Piper is more influential than I ever aspire to be. He is doubtless more gifted. He is certainly nicer. He may be smarter. So why is it that basic discernment so regularly eludes him? I would suggest two reasons, and then one further lesson we may draw from all of this.

First, Piper lacks discernment because he is a charismatic. Let’s face it, charismatic pastors aren’t discerning – not any of them. I realize that Piper doesn’t fit many people’s definition of charismatic, but he fits mine: he’s unable to discern what is and what is not the Word of God. It’s really that simple. Pastors are called upon to handle the oracles of God, we ought at least to know what they are and what they are not. If you can read Wayne Grudem’s nonsensical approach to modern-day prophecy (an approach Piper endorses), and not see that it is pure rubbish, then frankly you aren’t qualified to handle the Word of God in the pastoral office. If personal musings and leanings might be from the Holy Spirit, then the living and active Word is what, exactly? The root of all spiritual discernment is to know the distinction between the words of God and those of men. That is why charismaticism is the root of all spiritual folly. Once you know that Piper is a continuationist (which is fancy language for a theological charismatic) you ought to expect him to show no discernment at all.

Second, Piper lacks discernment because he is unmoored from historical Christianity. My Twitter friend David Pittman responded to my assertion this way:

“Internal theological gyroscope” is exactly right. The history of Piper’s follies is a great advertisement for the Reformed confessions. The man who chooses to operate without a historical confession is choosing a path of myriad embarrassing errors. The most talented men in the church still need the moorings of confessional Christianity, and for that assertion Piper is Exhibit A.

And finally, we really need to revise our way of evaluating who are the great teachers of our day. It will always be true that the church at large identifies certain men of every generation who are worthy standard-bearers of the Christian cause, men worth hearing and promoting. We can easily draw up a list of qualifications which we might follow as we identify such leaders:

  1. A comprehensive knowledge of Scripture, guided by sound hermeneutical principles and a sense for proper application.
  2. Thorough grounding in historical theology and a commitment to walking in old, proven paths.
  3. A right sense of the spiritual perils of the age, and a commitment to applying scriptural remedies to each.
  4. Clarity of thought and expression, but without any taste for ingenuity or novelty.
  5. A life characterized by holiness and humility.

Instead, we work with this list:

  1. Pastor of a really big church, or leader of some other really big ministry.

wolfBy all accounts Piper is well described by #5 on my proposed list. I’m not saying that he isn’t a godly man. But he utterly lacks in #s 1-4, which is another way of saying that he demonstrates no discernment at all. So let’s be honest with ourselves: we picked him as one of the great leaders of the church in our day based on the lone item on the second list, which is how we pick everyone – worthy or not. He pastored a big church and headlines a big conference.

We need to do better. We need to at least find evangelical leaders who can tell the difference between a valuable geode and a worthless rock, or between a valued undershepherd and a dangerous wolf.




On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

Thursday, January 7, 2016

On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

Ravi Zacharias is an Indian born,  Canadian-American Christian whose ministry is apologetics. Zacharias speaks at large gatherings, conferences, and events on the topics of Christianity and defending the faith. He also has a radio program, “Let My People Think.” He is well known for being intelligent, philosophical, and an excellent speaker in his command of the English language.

Even though there are some towering men of the faith, we must continue to do our duty and test all things against scripture. No one is immune from potential apostasy, error, or sin. Let us examine Mr Zacharias.

Ravi Zacharias talks to pastor Joe Coffey at Christ
Community Chapel about answering objections to Christianity.
Source TMDrew, CC

The link below brings you to an essay written in 2008. Since that time Ravi has descended further into questionable associations. At one point he praised Catholic Mystic Henry Nouwen, in addition to compromising on Mormon theology as you will read in the link below of that and other compromises

Ravi’s slide downward

Though Ravi later retracted his endorsement of Nouwen and Merton here

But let’s take a look at his activity and statements over time, and compare to scripture.

2009: Ravi signed the ecumenical document called the Manhattan Declaration which calls for Catholics and Protestants to partner on moral issues (source). This is a violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14 and Ephesians 5:11.

2012: Ravi appears on Joyce Meyer Today, and says to Meyer, “God has used you” and calls her a ‘great bible teacher’ (youtube clip). This is a violation of one of the qualifications of elders, that they protect the sheep and remain in sound doctrine according to the biblical qualifications of teaching elders as per 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. His endorsement of Meyer was also a violation of the advice on Proverbs which says leaders use their wisdom to guide and lead. (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).

Ravi Zacharias calls false teacher Joyce Meyer a great teacher?

2014: Ravi waffles on age of earth, Ken Ham has response. This denies the clear and straightforward text of Genesis and is a setting aside of Romans 15:4.

2015: Credible allegations were made that Ravi has allegedly inflated/exaggerated/misrepresented his scholarly credentials. Proverbs 19:9 says he who breathes out lies will perish. When the allegations surfaced, certain information was immediately removed from the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) website. The allegations claimed,

-He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
-He refers to himself as Dr Zacharias yet has no earned doctoral degree, they are all conferred.
-He claims to have lectured at the world’s most prestigious universities.
-He claims to be a scholar yet has published nothing in scholarly journals and does not have peer reviewed research.

Next, sadly, from the RZIM FAQ page,
Ravi Zacharias Ministry holds no official theological position on:

Creation: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the age of the earth. The focus of RZIM is apologetics and evangelism, and thus we do not address particular questions about creation…”

Calvinism v. Arminianism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism, and we have staff members holding to a variety of views in both of these doctrinal traditions.” (PS you’ll notice errors in their explanation of Calvinism on the linked page)

Eschatology: “Dr. Zacharias has not spoken on matters relating to the end times, nor does RZIM endorse any official view on matters of eschatology.”

Catholicism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of the Catholic tradition; RZIM focuses its ministry on evangelism and apologetics and strives to stay true to that vision. Some of Ravi Zacharias’s favorite authors are Catholic (namely G.K. Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge), yet he recognizes that there are significant doctrinal differences between Protestants and Catholics.” [doctrinal differences?!?!]

Erm, kind of hard to engage in solid apologetics without an official position on 3/4 of the bible’s doctrines.

2016: In April 2015, Ravi Zacharias was part of a conference which was set to scrutinize The New Apostolic Reformation, during the Worldview Apologetics Conference held at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. The co-authors of two books outing the NAR (R. Douglas Gievett, professor of philosophy in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, and Holly Pivec, journalist) wrote the following at their blog:

My co-author, Doug Geivett, will speak alongside other high-profile evangelicals–including Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, and Calvin Beisner–who will present on other important topics. Doug will give two presentations on the NAR, titled “The New Apostolic Reformation: What You Need to Know” and “God’s Super-Apostles: Where They Fall Short.” 

And yet in January 2016 Ravi will partner with Domininist/NAR teachers at a conference called Synergize, the very movement a previous conference which Ravi attended that had sessions exposing these people as false teachers.

Finally, the smooth talk. If you listen to enough of Zacharias you notice he uses mostly rhetorical contrivances, philosophy, and looong anecdotes but not a whole lot of Bible. He is an ecumenical philosopher, not a solid apologist. The reason he uses fine sounding arguments and rhetorical tricks is that he is the kind of man Paul is describing being the opposite of himself, in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5,

and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, (like Ravi) but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, (Ravi again) but on the power of God. (as Paul does).

Now, I mentioned before that immediately after salvation and before I got into a church I listened to Joel Osteen every week and I loved it. I used to take notes on Osteen’s speech from a rhetorician’s point of view, noting the tone, cadence, speed, and specific language used to hold the audience in his hand. He is a wonderful speaker. I stopped thinking it was so wonderful when I finally got a clue and opened my bible and compared what Osteen was teaching to the Word. Then the scales fell off.

I also personally attended a Ravi Zacharias speech in Athens GA soon after I was converted and I loved that too. Why? Same reason I initially liked Osteen. I have a particular affinity for men who can speak eloquently. I have always loved language, rhetoric, persuasion, metaphor…both my undergraduate and graduate degree are in literacy. When a smooth talking man comes along who uses language so well, it bamboozles me and I get starry eyed for the language, not the ideas behind the language. I was a Romans 16:18 gal.

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:4)

What does everyone say when they mention Ravi Zacharias? “The Spirit is powerfully using Ravi!” No, but they do say, “Ravi’s so smart!” What would people say if they had heard Paul preach, who is just as smart as Ravi if not smarter? “Paul’s so smart!” or would they say, “Paul preaches in the power of the Spirit of God!” They would say the latter, and they did (1 Corinthians 2:4).

THINK about it.



Spiritual meditation, as it is commonly practiced around the world, is done for the purpose of achieving an experience of the presence of God. This “presence” feeling, often described as a sense of oneness with the Divine, can create a powerful psychological and physical sense of peace. This much-desired spiritual experience thus serves to validate one’s faith — if one “feels” God’s presence then that means one is on the right path to a higher form of spirituality. Thus meditation becomes a discipline, a device, even an art, whereby man believes he can do things to achieve inner peace and a unity with God.   Here is an example:

Spiritual awakening comes when the mind rises…. At this stage men has a spiritual vision of the Divine light and is struck with wonder at its beauty and glory. His mind then no longer runs after worldly pleasures…. When the mind rises [higher]… man becomes free from nescience and ignorance. He then talks only on subjects relating to God and grows impatient if any worldly topic is discussed. He avoids hearing about worldly subjects… When the mind rises [higher]… man becomes merged in divine consciousness…. Seeing the beatific vision of God he becomes mad with joy and longs to come closer to him and be united with him…. One may compare God to the light in a lantern. You seem to feel its warmth, yet though you wish to do so, you cannot touch it, on account of the glass intervening…. When one rises [higher]… one realizes his oneness with God.[1]

Here is an example of spiritual meditation from Sarah Young’s 2004 bestseller Jesus Calling. In these quotes below it is Sarah herself who is speaking about her experience with practicing meditation to invoke a feeling of “the Presence of God.”

“I first experienced the Presence of God in a setting of exquisite beauty.… I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’”Jesus Calling introduction, pages VI & VII, 2004 unrevised edition.

“When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God’s presence in this powerful way.”Jesus Calling introduction, pages X & XI, 2004 unrevised edition.

Compare the experience described by Sarah Young with the quotation above it.  Can you see the similarities? The quotation above it came from page 75 of a book titled KUNDALINI: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (Destiny Books, 1986), a horrific and seductive manual on how to achieve an experience of a presence, which turns out to be serpent power.

In these examples can be seen evidence of the emerging common denominator between evangelical mysticism and other world religions, which is meditation. There is very little difference between the meditation taught by eastern religions and the practices currentlyin vogue in evangelical circles. Both teach that by practicing meditation and doing things to increase the experience of “the presence” that one can attain higher levels of spirituality.

What is the difference? How can you tell? In his book RUN! It’s Jesus Calling! Why You Should Throw Away Your Copy of Jesus Calling author Steven Hudgik explains. He has given us permission to reproduce his chapter 13 in its entirety, titled “HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF JESUS?” Pastor Hudgik begins the chapter with the two quotations from Sarah Young, and then continues. . .
What is the overall theme of the Jesus Calling book? Its full title is, “Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace In His Presence.” Based on the title I assume there is a focus on experiencing the presence of Jesus (God). And that is what we see when we read this book. Just in the introduction Jesus Calling speaks about the presence of God 19 times.

When we read the Jesus Calling devotions we find the same focus on being in the presence of Jesus. I randomly picked a date, which turned out to be October 13th, and I counted the number of times being in the presence of Jesus is mentioned in the next ten devotions. It was 18 times. In addition, phrases that imply the presence of Jesus, such as “aware of my companionship,” are commonly used.

Experiencing the presence of Jesus is a huge part of this book. So let’s find out what Jesus Calling means when it talks about being in the presence of Jesus. We’ll also look at the true Biblical meaning of being in the presence of Jesus.

According to Jesus Calling, what does it mean to be in the presence of Jesus? 

In Jesus Calling the presence of Jesus seems to be a feeling you experience. In the 2004 introduction to Jesus Calling Sarah Young describes being in the presence of Jesus as feeling like there is a warm mist around her. In another part of the same introduction she says it is like having a bright light around her.

In addition, according to Jesus Calling there are numerous benefits that result from being in the presence of Jesus. For example, the presence of Jesus:

  • helps you receive the peace of Jesus (October 13th)
  • is a promise and a protection (October 15th)
  • is a powerful protection and your best protection (October 15th)
  • is the source of help (help flows from it) (October 16th)
  • comforts you (October 16th)
  • allows you to be a channel through whom others are comforted (October 16th)
  • outshines any fantasy you can imagine (October 17th)
  • enables you to face each day with confidence (October 18th)
My general impression is that, according to Jesus Calling, the presence of Jesus helps you relax, have peace, and to get through the day’s troubles.

What do we need to do to experience the presence of Jesus? 

Jesus Calling says that we are constantly in the presence of Jesus (Jan 28), and it seems to indicate that we can experience awareness of the presence of Jesus to greater and lesser degrees. How do we do this? The following are some of the instructions I found that seem to be related to becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. These are from the 10th Anniversary Edition:

  • Your weakness is the door to Jesus’ presence (Jan 8)
  • Ask Jesus to show you the path forward moment by moment (Jan 9)
  • Make Jesus’ presence the focal point of your thoughts (Jan 28)
  • Whisper the name of Jesus (April 8) • Thanksgiving and praise open the door to his presence (May 29)
  • Attune yourself to Jesus’ voice (September 26)
Jesus Calling gives many other ways to experience the presence of Jesus, but none of them are in accordance with scripture. So once again we have a complete disconnect with scripture.

Let me see if I can summarize the impressions I’m getting as I try to understand how to experience the presence of Jesus and its benefits according to Jesus Calling:

Jesus is a soft, fluffy, comfortable Jesus who is your best friend. He is always there to share the burden of your troubles, wipe away your tears, give you peace, and keep you feeling warm and comfortable inside. To experience the presence of Jesus you need to do things such as remember him, whisper his name, trust him, and turn to him when you are in need.

BUT… the problem is that this is not scriptural concerning coming into and being in the presence of Jesus, and this is not the Jesus of the Bible. This Jesus is not the Jesus who loves you, who truly cares about you, and who died for you.

What does scripture teach? 

The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles at God’s word, who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it. – J.I. Packer (

What does it mean Biblically to be in the presence of God, and how do you Biblically come into the presence of God?

For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit” – Isaiah 57:15

Consider this: Jesus is God and God is omnipresent. This means God is present everywhere at all times. That means everyone is always in the presence of God. It is impossible for us to move out of the presence of God.

But, this is not the type of presence we are referring to when we talk about Biblically being in the presence of Jesus. What it means is to be saved and thus be in a relationship with God. It is not a feeling or experience, as described in Jesus Calling. It is the reality of being seated with Christ in heaven the moment you are saved (Ephesians 2:6) It is the reality of having Christ dwell within you the moment you are saved (John 14:23 and 15:4).

It is true that at times we will feel distant from God. All Christians have experienced this. For example, after losing his wife to cancer C.S. Lewis wrote:

Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, Chapter One, 1961

Peter explains what is happening:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) 

But, let’s start at the beginning. How do we come into the presence of Jesus in the first place? What keeps us from the presence of God?

Fact #1 – Sin separates us from God. 

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. – Isaiah 59:2

Sin separates us from God. You are a sinner, and that means you are separated from God. His face is hidden from you. What can you do to change that? Nothing. Doing the things the Jesus in Jesus Calling commands you to do will not bring you any closer to Jesus. Sin is a barrier that cannot be breached by human effort.

We are born as sinners and that means we are natural enemies of God. But, the same verse that reveals we are enemies of God, also gives the solution:

For if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life. – Romans 5:10 

Fact #2 – We WERE enemies of God. But, we have been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus. 

To be reconciled to God means we are no longer God’s enemies, instead we are in a relationship with God. This happens through faith, which is a gift of God.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.– Ephesians 2:8-9 

Through the faith given to you by God, you trust in the work of Jesus on the cross—His paying the penalty for your breaking God’s laws—and you are saved from that penalty. Now, when God looks at you, instead of your sin He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And that is why you, as a believer in the cross of Jesus Christ, are in a relationship with God.

If you have repented and are trusting that Christ has paid your penalty for sin… trusting that He paid your penalty for breaking God’s laws… then you are free from the penalty for sin! Free from sin and united with Christ. AND Jesus is actually living in you now! Not only are you in the presence of Jesus, you have been united with Jesus Christ your Lord.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. – Galatians 2:20 

Jesus Calling constantly talks about being in the presence of Jesus, but never mentions sin, nor the cross, nor the gospel. Jesus Calling even tries to turn you away from being concerned about sin (Sept 7). BUT… without the cross we all are eternally separated from God. It is only through the cross that we enter the presence of God. Okay… I’m hearing some of you saying something again: “Jesus Calling was written for Christians. Everyone who is reading it is already saved and is in a relationship with Jesus.” 

Setting aside the question of whether or not everyone reading Jesus Calling is actually saved or not, this brings us to fact number three:

Fact #3 – All believers will experience the trial of feeling separated from God. 

1 Peter 1:3-7
You are a believer, but you don’t feel very close to God. What’s wrong? John MacArthur explains: 

A key passage in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:3-7) will help you appreciate that times of distress are common and are for the good of God’s children. Amid the rich details of God’s glorious grace, resides an affirmation that those who rejoice in their salvation will also experience distress due to various trials. 

Take solace in knowing that sorrowful times–even periods of feeling God has withdrawn His presence–are an integral part of your spiritual experience. God hasn’t utterly abandoned you, though you feel He has. Other believers have successfully traveled the dark path you walk and completed their journey. – John McArthur, Why does God seem so distant when I need Him most? (

When we are going through a time when we feel distant from God we can be encouraged that it is part of God’s working to build our faith and growing us to know Him better. An article in the C.S. Lewis Reflections noted that:

Because C.S. Lewis did not give up, in time he was able to say, “I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted.” He came to see that God’s silence during his grief was not a sign of indifference, cruelty, or abandonment. Rather, God had been at work for good in his life in ways he could not sense or imagine—bringing him into a deeper experience of the Lord than he had ever known before. – Reflections, C.S. Lewis Institute, July 2008 

Based on 1 Peter 1:3-7 we can know that our time of darkness will be temporary, and that it has a purpose. It is a test of your faith that will strengthen your faith.

This sounds nothing at all like what Jesus Calling says. In Jesus Calling it is up to us to do something so we feel closer to Jesus. But, the reality is that God is in control. He does it all.

If I feel distant from Jesus, what should I do? 

Be in prayer. Spend time talking with God. David’s prayer in Psalm 13 is a good example.

Be in God’s Word. Read your Bible every day and be in obedience to what you are reading. That is called seeking His righteousness. And remember, God is always present with you even when He feels far away (1 Peter 2:9). God is never far from a believer.

Examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are you turning to sin for comfort instead of God? Or are you pure in heart (see Chapter 23)? The fact that sin separates you from God is foundational. You can’t talk about being close to God without talking about sin, repentance, and confessing your sin to God. But, Jesus Calling says nothing about sin, repentance, redemption, nor confession of sin. It seems that Jesus Calling is about making you feel good, instead of being about the truth and leading you to a right relationship with God… which is the only way to have a close relationship with God.

And finally remember God is in control. These four points are not magic, meaning that if you do them you’ll automatically feel closer to God. This is not the God of Jesus Calling. This is the true God, creator of you and the entire universe. God will draw nearer to you, when He determines the time is right.

Pastor Hudgik’s book can be purchased on Amazon. Here is the direct link: Read a previous excerpt “Knock, Knock…”:
Below are articles that we published previously about the Presence:
“The PASSION of the PRESENCE – & the Purpose of the Passion Part 1,” Herescope, January 25, 2014;
Presence” Eschatology – Part 2, Herescope, February 25, 2014;
Bridal Eschatology Part 3, Herescope, March 08, 2014;
The Perfectly Obedient Bride Part 4, Herescope, March 26, 2014;
The 2nd Coming of the “Presence” Part 5, Herescope, April 12, 2014;
The Battled Bride: Part 6, Herescope, April 22, 2014; .

Pastor Larry DeBruyn published an article on Herescope on December 31, 2013, titled The Present of “His Presence”. The article has now been posted as a downloadable PDF file at the Discernment Ministries website:’s%20Present%20of%20His%20Presence.pdf

Warren Smith published his concerns about Sarah Young’s Jesus in his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. See HEREand HERE.

1. KUNDALINI: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (Destiny Books, 1986), p. 75. WARNING: This is a very horrible graphic and occult book that dispels any notions one might have about meditation being an innocent mental health exercise.


The Blood of Catholics on Southern Baptist’s Hands


The Blood of Catholics on Southern Baptist’s Hands

In The Pen by Jeff 

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

As we have stated several times at Pulpit & Pen, we strongly opposed Southern Baptist President, Ronnie Floyd’s appearance at the IHOP Onething gathering at the end of 2015. The gathering was a steaming brew of different denominations (mostly apostates) who joined hands in reckless unity to hasten a revival, prophesied for over 25 years by Ronnie Floyd, and coined the “Next Great Awakening.”

Floyd has been so adamant about his prophecy, that he has refused to hear even the warnings of his peers at the SBC, let alone the many who have been calling this to the attention of the church for months.

At the conference gathered many Holy Spirit-blaspheming charismatics, Roman Catholics, and many others from many denominations. On top of that, the worship music included the papist, Matt Maher, who played on stage with pope Francis at World Youth Day in front of millions.

Ronnie Floyd assured all of the Roman Catholics in attendance that their differences in theology were not important, and that they should be set aside in order to pray for the great awakening and spiritual revival in America.

I’m not here tonight to highlight our theological differences, but to bend my knee, next to yours, and to ask God to have mercy on America. I also know that my being here is not an endorsement of your theology or your endorsement of my orthodoxy, I did not get asked to this gathering tonight because the leaders agree with all of my theological convictions. In fact, if we’re totally honest with one another we know that thousands of us who are filling this convention center and thousands more who are streaming live around the world, we’re not in total agreement about a lot of the secondary matters of life, ministry, and even the bible. Yet my being here is a clear indication that these are times when people must come together and pray.

So let’s understand what he’s saying here. He is saying that his understanding of Scripture as compared to the (mostly apostate Catholic and charismatic) attendees isn’t really important. What’s important is that God sent him there to unite them in prayer. After all, his “being there” is a clear indication (a sign from God?) that what he’s doing is right. Nevermind what Scripture has to say about it (2 Cor 6:14, Eph 5:11, 2 Tim 3:5, 2 Cor 10:14, etc.)

Nonetheless, Catholics came away with a new sense of assurance in their hearts. After Floyd led the thousands of students in prayer, some Catholics commented,

As a Catholic Charismatic, I wept tears of joy so many times this week as I had the privilege of worshipping the living God with so many diverse brothers and sisters in Christ –  Leslie Bertucci, Onething app


As a member of the Catholic Charismatic renewal, I’ve had a heart for what is happening at IHOP for many years and it was amazing to finally get out there and experience the prophetic worship and preaching firsthand. There was a beautiful unity across denominations this week. – Ryan Baptista, Onething app

Congratulations Ronnie Floyd, I hope your primary matters were well worth the possibly innumerable lost souls you affirmed at this conference. While great men of the Protestant Reformation gave their lives to defend the truth, and oppose the heresies of Rome and other false religions, sadly, many people like Floyd are actively working to reverse the Reformation. Will any Southern Baptist leaders stand up and speak up? If you don’t, their blood is on your hands (Ezekiel 3:18).

Merry Christmas from Sarah Young’s False Christ!

Merry Christmas from Sarah Young’s False Christ!

December 12, 2015

Thinking of giving Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling to friends and family for Christmas?

You might think twice . . . .

Author Warren Smith elaborates on the strange December 25th “message” that is presented as the Christmas Day “devotion” in Jesus Calling. In his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer, Smith suggests that Young’s “Jesus” sounds more like the Grinch who stole Christmas than the man from Galilee; more like a stranger than a savior.

The following excerpt is one of the “20 Concerns” Smith presents in his excellent book Another Jesus Calling:

The Dark Night of Jesus’ Birth?

In Jesus Calling, [Sarah Young’s] “Jesus” states that he was born in a “filthy stable” “under the most appalling conditions.” He says that the night of his birth was a “dark night” for him.

IN WHAT CAN only be described as the ultimate revisionist description of the night of Jesus’ birth, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” openly bemoans what he describes as that “dark night for Me.” He states in Jesus Calling:

Try to imagine what I gave up when I came into your world as a baby. I set aside My Glory, so that I could identify with mankind. I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions—a filthy stable. That was a dark night for Me, even though angels lit up the sky proclaiming “Glory!” to awe-struck shepherds. (emphasis added)

This doesn’t sound like the voice of our Savior—it sounds instead like the voice of a stranger (John 10:5). And when you really think about it, wouldn’t it be more likely that Satan — not Jesus — would be the one to describe the night of Jesus’ birth as that “dark night for me”?

As to the bemoaning of this “Jesus,” Scripture tells us to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves:

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
(Philippians 4:11)

In whatever way this devotion in Jesus Calling is looked at, it is a very unbiblical message. The conditions of His birth were not “appalling” but, rather, God’s “sign” to the shepherds, and then they, after seeing “the babe lying in a manger,” glorified and praised God for “all” they had “seen”:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger…. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger…. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
(Luke 2:11-20)


Become informed!  For further reading about the dangers of Sarah Young’s “Jesus,” read the following webpages:

1. Chris Lawson at Spiritual Research Network has posted links to a compendium of articles critical of Sarah Young’s book(s). See his Jesus Calling webpage.

2. Lighthouse Trails, which distributes and/or publishes Warren Smith’s books, offers several easy reading tract-like booklets that explain the dangers of Sarah Young’s “Jesus.” Read:
Changing “Jesus Calling”—Damage Control for a False Christ
The New Age Implications of “Jesus Calling”
The Daily Beast Writes Feature Article About Jesus Calling – Asks Questions Christian Leaders Ignore and Remain Silent On

3. See Amy Spreeman’s review of Changing “Jesus Calling”—Damage Control for a False Christ

4. Read Sarah Leslie’s review posted on Herescope titled “’Another Jesus’ Calling: Which Jesus is Calling on You?”

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14)

Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
(Heb. 1:3)

Thank you to Gaylene Goodroad for taking the photos illustrating the holiday sales promotions for Sarah Young’s book(s). Gaylene found this display at a local grocery store.

Thank you to Warren Smith for permission to reprint this excerpt from his book.