May 1, 2008

Say What?!

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the level of deception that many churches and church leaders have willfully fallen under in the past several years. Day after day my heart is burdened for revival and I am truly concerned for those that have fallen under this deception. After my recent post on "Center or Contemplative Prayer" I am aghast at what is occurring in most churches these days and the total disregard for Truth. This all seems very reminiscent of the Israelites and when they would intermingle pagan practices with that of the tabernacle. The end result was neither pleasing or honorable to God of such abominations.

What is occurring in the church with "Contemplative Prayer" is really no different than what we witness in the Old Testament. Paul specifically prohibits such activities on many occasions with the Gentile churches. To mix such pagan practices such as Hinduism or Buddhism with Christianity is really to defile the message and the power of the gospel.

Time after time I am amazed at how the church seems to think that they need to add something to the gospel message in order to somehow make it more powerful. Contemplative Prayer is really no different. Its the "Johnny-come-lately" of prayer methodology and is the "Next Big Thing" in evangelical circles. In recent decades, the church has lost faith in the power of the gospel to save humanity from sin and therefore have taken up the task of trying to dress it up in a new box and slap on a "New and Improved" slogan. We have truly forgotten that the gospel in of itself is what saves! Today, we have folks like Thomas Keating and Ruth Haley Barton as the great new marketers of Christian Spirituality! In reality they are nothing more than Charlatans!

Barton, Keating, Bell, and others have simply played into the hands of the Enemy. How so? Here is my take on all of this. One of Satan's biggest weapons within his arsenal of deceptive tactics is to get people not to live intelligently to the truth of scripture. In other words, I believe it is one of Satan's goals to get as many Christians not to think on the knowledge or wisdom of God's truth, and preventing that truth to transform their hearts. Rather, if he then can get them to focus on other things, say like Contemplative Prayer, they will ultimately focus on themselves or other things. This is why God detest when people bring in "other things" into their lives or churches that distract or take away our focus or attention from Him. To say our "thoughts" are the problem, is really to blame God with faulty design of the human mind and reasoning abilities. "Thoughts" in of themselves are not the enemy, but the condition of a person's heart! Did not God tell us to love HIM with all thy mind also? So to say that our "thoughts" are the problem when we pray is to say that God desires us to be nothing more than a mindless nitwit when we come to communicate to Him.

The thing is God has created us with a wonderfully created mind and ability to intellectualize. God truly desires that we continually focus our thoughts upon Him when we pray and throughout our day. God also desires conversation! How can he converse with us if our minds are empty or void or that we are chanting some "Sacred word" over and over again? Let me give you a true to life example to make my point:

Let's say you and I are going to have a conversation about airplanes and flying. Since I am a pilot and flight instructor, I know a little about flying and how airplanes work. So we meet up to have a discussion about the principles of flight and how they relate to an airplane. At the beginning of our conversation I immediately begin to chant "aileron, aileron, aileron, aileron, aileron" over and over again. I do this for let's say 10 minutes. After ten minutes or so are up I stop and I look over at you and ask you "So did I help you have a better understanding of flying?". I would imagine any sane or rational human being would immediately think I was some sort of fool or someone who is having some sort of mental episode.

Prayer is defined as communication between us and God. It is a time whereby we bring our petitions or thank fullness before God and God can at times speak to us through our time of prayer to Him. Logically this means there must exist a line or ability to communicate between the two parties. If we take the example I provide above, we can plainly see that if one of the two parties were communicating in a way that was mindless or in a way that was prohibitive to open communication, then lines of communication simply fail.

To maybe put it another way, let's say the tables are reversed and God communicates to US through the method of "Centering Prayer". Let's say during our quiet time God spoke to us but all He said was "Give, Give, Give, Give, Give, Give, Give Give, Give," over and over again. Now I would ask you, from this experience what exactly was God trying to communicate to you? Could you decipher from this repetitive chanting what He was asking of you? Could you discern intelligently that he wanted you to a) Give money to a missionary in India, (b) Give up Choclate Ice Cream for a year?.(c) Or was He simply asking you not to Give up on prayer for that lost family member? From this example we see the necessaity for good communications!

If we desire to KNOW God then we must be willing to place our thoughts specifically upon God. Not void out our minds altogether and conduct ourselves in some mindless paganistic mantra under the guise of Christianity! God desires to know our thoughts are upon Him and his ways! How does this occur? The Psalmist writes"

Psa 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; (24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

Even David knew that the motivation of our HEART drives our thoughts. The issue here is not our thoughts, but what is driving or motivating those thoughts - OUR HEARTS! If your a person who is using contemplative prayer your a person who is really more about having an experience rather than changing your heart. You desire that God comes to YOU! Rather you humbling yourself and you COMING to GOD! Your more about the experiential and not the spiritual or the moral. Your about "Feeling" God rather than "Knowing" God! In the end "Centering Prayer" is not God Centered, but rather Man-Centered and is truly a "works" based form of spirituality! God is not at all interested in us coming to him with some vain repetitious prayer, but rather that we love Him with ALL of our HEART, ALL of they MIND and ALL thy Strength!

1 comment:

Dean Lusk said...

You know, I wasn't familiar with the word "aileron" before reading this post, but I want to thank you for making me an expert, my friend.

:)

You had me laughing really hard with this post. Excellent light-shining here on your part...