Initially, this was only to be from my heart to all my children and grandchildren. Yet the longer I have held this before the Lord the more I have realized a simple truth: The Lord had me begin this blog because all of you are my children and grandchildren. I am 75 years old. I came to know the Lord at the age of 35 and have been teaching the Word of God for about 38 years. There is in me an overwhelming desire to see everyone I know be safe on the path toward Heaven. Jesus used Parables to illustrate His points. I will use two stories.
The Lord has seen fit to grace me with a few dreams in my walk with Him. Only once has He given me a vision. Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary references Isaiah when speaking of visions:
It is a vision, being revealed to [Isaiah] in a vision, when he was awake, and heard the words of God, and saw the visions of the Almighty . . . It was what he saw with the eyes of his mind, and foresaw as clearly by divine revelation, was as well assured of it, and as much affected with it, as if he had seen it with his bodily eyes.
The Lord had already given me many confirmations that I was a watchman from Scriptures like the following in Ezekiel 33:
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head.5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”
As an aside, it has never comforted me to simply know that I have fulfilled my responsibility to The Lord and my brothers and sisters in The Lord when I am called upon to warn someone and they don’t heed the warning. It saddens me and often breaks my heart.
As I said, I had received confirmations of being a watchman but one of the most memorable was a vision. I was with my husband and all of a sudden this is what happened. Thirty eight years ago and it is still as vividly clear as if it happened this morning:
It was the time of the Old West and we were inside a large Army Fort in the middle of the prairie. I was walking up to my watchtower because I was on sentry duty. Down below were mothers pushing their babies in their carriages, children running around playing tag, soldiers attending to their duties. But from my watchtower all of a sudden things looked different (in watchtowers you can see further off into the distance). I saw a huge cloud on the ground in the distance. The thought ran through my mind that it could have been a big dust storm like you have in the Midwest…but it could also have been a tribe of hostile Indians kicking up a lot of dust. My “trained knowledge” told me it was the Indians. I immediately alerted the men to close and barricade the front gates, the soldiers to position themselves for a fight, the women and children to take cover. I ran to the Commander’s office to tell him what I’d seen. He knew the signs of the times and the hostile tribes that surrounded us. Because we had sufficient time to prepare, we were ready and safe. I had warned and given the people time to prepare and be safe – I had done my job.
The next incident happened about ten years ago.
I had a dear friend named Jean – now in glory – who was a Christian book store manager for many years. She sat next to me in church. She was a feisty little thing and I loved her with all my heart. The new pastor at our former church had been introducing some interesting topics during his sermons for a few months. Then he began to talk about books by Henry Nouwen, John Ortberg and [St.] John of the Cross. That was enough for Jean. As only she would, Jean whammed me with her elbow! “Don’t you know about them – they’re contemplative!” she said. Since I only read the classics like Andrew Murray and Phillip Keller, I had no idea what she was talking about. I also thought that since Jean already knew about these authors, she should be the one to go to the pastor for a discussion. However, Jean insisted that I was the researcher. So began a year and a half long quest that culminated in a 154 page research paper containing chapters on the deceptions involved in the following: spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines, mysticism, Catholicism, centering prayers, the silence, Lectio Divina, desert fathers, visualization, Contemplative prayer, Benedictine monks and their prayers and rule, Ignatius Loyola, etc. all of which I plan on addressing in further detail in future blogs.
My research paper began with the study of Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline. To the best of my knowledge every student who attends a Christian University, be it Liberty, Regent, or Valley Forge or any other, will be required to read this book. I know this because my grandchildren have attended Christian universities. These are Foster’s own words on p. xiii-xiv. of that book as he relates that he was fresh out of seminary, had his first church and “was ready to conquer the world” but:
After three months or so I had given that tiny congregation everything I knew, and then some, and it had done them no good. I had nothing left to give; I was spiritually bankrupt and I knew it…This lack of any real spiritual density led me, almost instinctively, to the Devotional Masters of the Christian Faith…[St.] Augustine of Hippo and [St.] Francis of Assisi and [St.] Julian[a] of Norwich and so many others. Somehow I sensed that these ancient writers lived and breathed the spiritual substance these new friends in our little fellowship were seeking so desperately. ..it hardly mattered who I read in those days – Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, [St.] Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, John Woolman’s Journal, A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy – they knew God in ways I had never experienced.
Notice, sadly, that after only three months Foster could not find inspiration in the entire Word of God to teach his congregation. Why would I choose Richard Foster to single out so dramatically? The answer is very simple: because from his roots come the following deceptions which have been quickly infiltrating teachings in today’s churches, on today’s college campuses, and are continually appearing on many best seller lists. The topics include: spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines, sanctified imaginations, “Christian” yoga, Ignatian exercises and Contemplative prayer, just to name a few. Notice also how many references Foster makes to Catholic mystics.
In addition, in the first edition of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline there will even be found the deceptive practice of astral projection. While this procedure was deleted from subsequent editions because of so many theological protests, no reason was ever given for the deletion. Therefore, readers of the first edition were allowed to continue in their deception. How reminiscent this practice is of the following verse:
2 … there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly* bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (* subtly and stealthily – by the side door)
– 2 Peter 2:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)
A LIST TO SHARE WITH THOSE YOU LOVE
My grandchildren and Jean’s will go off to a Christian University with this very complete list I will share with them as I share with you. Yes, they will probably encounter books and authors on this list, but they will at least know to have their spiritual armor on. Those of you not of student age will find this to be an immensely comprehensive list for all your reading activities. So we have all bases and ages covered I will equip you with two sites that are the equivalent of two massive online libraries of Christian’s general and discernment knowledge.
To get information about individual schools, authors, books or topics, go to the website above. From there access research archive, then research resource and lastly topical index. That will link you to buckets of information. 😊 . Lighthouse Research will also provide you with over 100 pamphlets on a wide variety of topics to keep you informed and safe. They cost under two dollars. If you sign up, you will have an informative newsletter delivered to your email box weekly, free.
A broad overview of the topics presented on the pages above include: desert fathers, Brother Lawrence, Brennan Manning, Brian McLaren, The Message, mindfulness, New Missiology, Henri Nouwen, Leonard Sweet, yoga, etc.
There is another equally reliable and informative site for you to use for research: thebereancall.org This site has the added feature of a monthly newsletter that is free for the asking. Recently, they began publishing “Berean bites” which are solid, jam-packed mini-books on topics like Calvinism, mysticism, Catholicism, etc. It is seven dollars extremely well spent since each approximately 30 page pamphlet also includes a study guide and an audio disc.
During the next few months we will be covering one other very popular book just as we did Jesus Calling, the difference between Catholicism and Christianity, Contemplative Spirituality and Spiritual Formation, Trials and Suffering, servanthood, the book of Nehemiah, etc. We will be well equipped for the battles ahead. The Lord will make certain of that.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ON A PARTICULAR TOPIC, ASK ME. I LOVE RESEARCH AND WOULD HAPPILY EITHER DIRECT YOU TO THE ANSWER YOURSELF OR RESEARCH IT FOR YOU. JUST WRITE ME CARE OF THE BLOG. HAVE THE FIRST WORD IN THE EMAIL BE QUESTION.
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998)
Henry, Matthew. “Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Isaiah 1:1.” Bible Gateway, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2B1%3A1.