Monday, August 23, 2010

Grace and peace.

The Sola Sisters are taking a brief break.  We will resume shortly.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Christian" Yoga?

Posted by Christine Pack

This recent YouTube video with Caryl Matrisciana on the dangers of yoga is both sobering and informative, and explains why Christians should not attempt to "blend" their worship of God with the pagan practices of Hinduism.  This is a very timely issue right now, given that a Hollywood movie starring Julia Roberts (Eat, Pray, Love) is about to be released and will be presenting a glowing cinematic portrayal of a sanitized, Americanized version of Hinduism.

Yoga is the salvific practice of Hinduism; in other words, it is the Hindu form of "salvation." But Hindus have no concept of sin against a holy God....instead, it teaches that man's greatest problem is his ignorance that he is "God" (or Brahman). Obviously, this is very different from the Christian understanding of what salvation is: Jesus's atoning death for the forgiveness of sins, and being made right with a holy God.

Just a few more reasons why yoga cannot be separated from its occultic origins are:

(1) The mantra meditation lowers mental barriers and opens one up to the demonic realm (though it often doesn't "feel" demonic at feels "good" and "spiritual".....even holy);

(2) The yoga positions themselves are all prayer postures designed to honor one of the millions of hindu gods;

(3)  The "Namaste" is an unbiblical practice. "Namaste" is when the yoga practitioners bow to one another while each says "Namaste." "Namaste" means "I am bowing to the 'God' within you." This is obviously not a biblical concept because we cannot assume that everyone we would meet in life has God within them. For the Christian, there are only 2 kinds of people: those who are spiritually dead (the lost), and those who are born again believers in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. For me to practice the "Namaste" would mean that I would be giving false hope and assurance to the lost that I am recognizing them as my spiritual brothers and sisters.

(4) The yoga positions themselves are not only for the purpose of honoring and worshiping Hindu gods, but they are done in a very specific order for the purpose of aligning and opening up the"chakra" system.  It is believed that this alignment will not only enable one to meditate more deeply, but will also awaken something called "kundalini," also known as "serpent power." In the yoga tradition, it is believed that a "serpent" lies coiled and sleeping at the base of the spine until it is "awakened" and begins to uncoil, slowly moving its way up the spine, and allowing the practitioner deeper meditation and union with "Brahman."

Brahman is supposed to be this infinite, transcendent reality from which all things came - including the millions of Hindu gods. The aim of yoga is to attain union with Brahman......basically, the ultimate purpose of yoga is to release people from the Wheel of Life, and their karmic debts, and to prepare its practitioners for death.

However, the response I often hear from Christians is this: "But as a Christian, I can 'do' yoga unto the Lord!" My question would be: How is that any different from the golden calf incident, recorded in Exodus 32:1-6, in which Aaron tried to claim that they were honoring the Lord with their syncretized religious worship?
"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry." (Exodus 32:1-6, my emphasis)
This story is one of the most powerful biblical warnings there is against incorporating pagan practices into our worship of God.   What most people don't realize is that this well-known incident wasn't about straight up paganism. No, this story records how God's chosen people blended together (1) what they had been taught to do by God with (2) pagan practices that were familiar to them from their years of captivity in Egypt. They knew about altars and making offerings to God. And they knew about pagan animal worship from their exposure to Egyptian culture. When Moses delayed returning to the people from atop the mountain where he was speaking with God, the people  decided to create their own tangible way of worshiping God. So they set up an altar, added a little Egyptian flavor in the form of cow worship, and called it a festival for the Lord. And God saw this, and was very pleased? Not exactly. This is what the Bible records:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." " (Exodus 32:7-10, my emphasis)
God was not pleased - and only Moses' intercession on their behalf saved them from being completely destroyed by God. As if that weren't a clear enough warning against mixing pagan worship practices with worship of God, we are also warned in Deuteronomy against spiritual syncretism:
"The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.' You must not worship the LORD your God in their way..." (Deut, 12:29-31a, my emphasis)
God is quite clear on how we are to worship and approach him - and it is not through blending our worship of him with pagan practices.  I recognize that it is very hip and cool and popular in today's global, syncretized culture to meld different things together. We are most certainly an experience-driven culture, always seeking the fresh, exciting, "new" thing. And we also like our smorgasbord religions, with a little of this, a little of that. But we have clear mandates from Scripture about how we are to worship and approach God. We are to be set apart from the world - not syncretized with it - so that's God's truth will shine like a beacon in the darkness.

So, how did the story turn out?  How did the Lord view the golden calf incident? Was He "honored" by the claim of the Israelites and Aaron that they were, in fact, worshiping him with their incorporation of pagan religious practices?
"He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it." (Exo 32:20)
Bottom line? Christians must not be tempted to "borrow" practices from false religions and fool themselves into thinking that they can honor the Lord in this way. And if they have done so, they should repent.....or they might just end up drinking ground calf juice.

photo credit: vaXzine via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

Yoga Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Yoga Alliance Shows Its Hindu Teeth

Christian Yoga an Oxymoron?

Yoga Training: Not Just Exercise

Yoga For Children: Not Child's Play

Yoga: From Hippies To Hip

Yoga: Its Spiritual Roots Can't Be Separated From Its Physical Movements

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

Doctor Prescribes "Therapeutic" Yoga For A Christian Woman with Devastating Consequences

Friday, August 6, 2010

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

Posted by Christine Pack

Julia Roberts, who stars in the upcoming movie Eat, Pray, Love - which presents a sort of "Americanized" version of Hinduism - recently said in an interview that she is now a practicing Hindu.

Only in America could we find a way to romanticize the core theology of Hinduism to the point that it looks appealing - when in reality it is a religion of despair.  The "Americanized" form of Hinduism, however, as artfully put forth in Eat, Pray, Love, "feels" very good to the sinful flesh.   As a friend of mine pointed binges, Eastern spirituality, and free love?  Please!  So much more appealing than the biblical concepts of crucifying the flesh, dying daily to self, and laying down one's life.

Julia Roberts needs to read Out of India by Caryl Matrisciana to get an understanding of the underlying ugliness and despair of true Hinduism.  Writer and producer Caryl Matrisciana was born and raised in India, and witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of Hindu thought and beliefs on the culture around her.  The goal of Hinduism is for its practitioners to realize that one's soul is identical to Brahman, the "Supreme Soul."  Or, in layman's terms....we are all "god," which is the core theology of the New Age.

But, UNTIL a Hindu attains this knowledge, they are, according to eastern belief (Hinduism/Buddhism), trapped in the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation).....a theology which leads to utter despair.

We've written before about the fact that the New Age, that "dated" 80s movement starring Shirley MacLaine running down the beach with her crystals clanking, never really went away, it just became absorbed into our culture.  New convert and "practicing Hindu" Julia Roberts has just proved this spades.  Hinduism and New Age Spirituality are here to stay.

photo credit: david_shankbone via photo pin cc

photo credit: via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

"Christian" Yoga?

Universalism: The Gospel Message of Emergent and New Age Spirituality

Karma Just Doesn't Cut It

Yoga Alliance Shows Its Hindu Teeth

Christian Yoga an Oxymoron? 

Yoga Training: Not Just Exercise

Yoga For children: Not Child's Play

Yoga: From Hippies To Hip

Yoga: Its Spiritual Roots Can't Be Separated From Its Physical Movements

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Response and An Open Letter to Anne Rice

Dear Anne-

Thank you for engaging on this.  Please know that the purpose of my original post about you was not to quarrel or dispute with my brothers in Christ over at White Horse Inn.  There is a difference between biblically exhorting and quarreling...and I was simply hoping, by God's grace, to exhort them to test all confessions of faith against God's word.

You wrote to Sola Sisters:
"This article is a perfect example of the kind of quarreling and disputes that infect Christianity and Christians. Roman Catholics aren't Christian? This is precisely why my commitment to Christ demands that I have to step away from organized religion."
My response would be that I think the heart of the issue is that there are certain things in Scripture that Christians are holding the line on that you find offensive, even wrong.  But do we get to "cherry pick" only the truths that "feel" good and spiritual to us while rejecting others?

Anne Rice, Author
My pastor often makes the statement: "We are reformed, always reforming."  Meaning, we all have gaps in our theology, but we don't "close the gaps" with our own man-made wisdom....we allow Scripture to "reform" our thinking.  Let's say there is something that I hold as a "truth," something that I think has guided me faithfully for years.  I love this truth, I embrace it, I speak about it to others, it has value to me.  And let's say that in ongoing Bible study, one day I realize this "truth" to be in error.  What happens to this "truth?"  Bye-bye, is what happens to it.  It has to go.  It's been great knowing you, dear "truth," but I have something better:  Scripture.....God's truth.

What I have discovered in my own life, as I grow older and study the Bible more, is that the ideas I've come up with as I travel through life - which oftentimes have seemed so profound along the way - have always been shown for what they are in light of Scripture: Silly little nothings. Futile thinking. Vain imaginations. (2 Cor. 10:5, Rom 1:21-22).  I must reform my thinking in light of Scripture because I am a Christian.  I do not insist that its truths must "work" alongside mine.  I bow the knee in humble submission to God's Word.

Anne, I would be the first to admit that not all professing Christians speak the hard truth of Scripture in love.  But this still does not mean that these hard truths are not there, and that they do not demand a response: they do.  Your response has been to say:
"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian."
As gently and lovingly as possible, Anne, I must tell you that I and my fellow Christians have not drawn the line in the sand on these issues....God has.  Your quarrel is not with us; it is with Him.

And I also have to wonder: have you ever heard the true gospel message?  It is not simply that there is a God high and holy - even pagans and lost people know that through natural revelation.  And I gathered from listening to your interview that you at least felt this truth pressed upon you.  But this is not the gospel.

The gospel message of salvation is that there is a sovereign creator God who has made us, and owns us, and has a righteous claim on our lives.  But we have sinned against this God who made us and takes care of us by breaking his moral laws....and without his merciful and loving intervention, we will die in our sins and be condemned to hell forever.  It is a wretched, desperate situation.  But God, being rich in mercy and loving-kindness, made a way where there was none: He has made a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God. How could this be done?  It seems impossible, given God's nature.  We are sinful, wretched, depraved.....and He is pure and holy beyond our comprehension.  And after all, the Bible itself plainly lays out the bad new for us in Proverbs 17:15:
"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the LORD detests them both."
Will not justice be subverted if a holy God does both of these things - acquit the guilty (us) and condemn the innocent (Christ)?  And yet, God - in his magnificent, unsurpassable wisdom - found a way to do just this thing without compromising his perfect, holy justice.  He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, never sinning in thought, word or deed, and who, because of this, was able to offer up his life as a ransom for many. I broke God's laws, and Jesus paid my fine in his life's blood so that I could be released from the rightful condemnation of the law.  But this gift of salvation, though given freely, is narrow and exclusive.  Only those who recognize their sinful wretchedness and need for a Savior, and repent and place their faith in Christ's atoning work done on their behalf, will see the kingdom of Heaven.  The very first words of Jesus's public ministry (Matthew 4:17) were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Narrow is the way, and few be those who find it. But ah, the wretched, human heart, which hugs its sin and depravity close, and would rather perish, clinging stubbornly and unrepentantly to its right to determine what "truth" is....

In closing, I am praying for you to be given "eyes that see" and "ears that hear." I also welcome your response, either publicly or privately.

(one of the Sola Sisters :) )

photo credit: lanskymob via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

Anne Rice Rejects "Christianity?"

Proverbs 17:15 - What Is Real Christianity? by Paul Washer

The Stranger on the Road To Emmaus

A Former Roman Catholic Priest Gives His Testimony

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Anne Rice Rejects "Christianity?"

Posted by Christine Pack

Anne Rice, Author
Author Anne Rice, best known for her Vampire Lestat chronicles which were popular in the 90s, rather famously "converted" to Christianity in 1998...which she has now publicly rejected.

But did she really convert in the first place?

The truth is that Anne Rice grew up Roman Catholic, became an atheist, then converted back to Roman Catholicism...which she has now rejected once again.  And in fact, there really is no evidence that I can find that Anne Rice, who has said that Christian theologian N.T. Wright greatly influenced her "conversion," has ever even heard the life-giving message of the true gospel:
Repentance and faith in Christ's sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
Roman Catholicism teaches a salvation by works....this is not the gospel message of salvation...which is by grace alone....through faith Christ alone.

Anne Rice was interviewed by the White Horse Inn a few years back in which she talked about once again embracing her "childhood faith" (Roman Catholicism).  The host of White Horse Inn, which is the teaching radio ministry of Michael Horton, for some reason did not challenge Rice's Roman Catholic views.  Now, I have had White Horse Inn recommended to me many times in the past few years as a great resource for teaching.  But the truth is, that one interview so completely threw me, that I stopped listening to White Horse Inn for a long period of time, so great was my confusion.

You see, I'm not just concerned with the struggles of a Christian radio program in how they will work within the world system and continue to speak truth (which is the argument I've heard about why White Horse Inn would not challenge Rice publicly).  I'm also concerned about Anne Rice's soul!  I'm concerned about the resulting confusion for Protestant listeners who may not know all the finer distinctions about how and why Roman Catholicism is not Christian (and who therefore might not be concerned for Roman Catholic friends, neighbors and loved ones).

I'm not clear on the reasoning over at White Horse Inn on why they did not challenge Anne Rice on her (wrong) beliefs at the time they interviewed her, but I think Anne Rice's recent - and very public - rejection of "Christianity" underscores in a big way why Christians are cautioned against yoking with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14-15):
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?"  
This passage cautions that we must not "yoke" with those who do not hold fast to the true faith that was "once for all entrusted to the saints"......whether that would be in marriage....or in public, ecumenical love-fests between Protestants and Catholics.

The truth is that it's not Anne Rice who gets besmirched by all this, not really.  It's not even White Horse Inn, not ultimately.  The bottom line is that God has been robbed of his glory in this whole mess.  Somewhere along the way, it was decided that it was better to give a public forum to someone who is far, far outside of orthodoxy than to hold God up rightly and in a way that is honoring to him and to his character and nature.  Now, do we always do that perfectly?  Of course not.  But White Horse Inn got on a very slippery slope when they decided to give a then practicing Roman Catholic a very public forum.  I know that they had no way of knowing how this would turn out, but seriously, why wasn't the fact that Anne Rice was a confessing Roman Catholic enough to give them pause?  I'm not trying to throw White Horse Inn under the bus on this, but whether they know it or not, their radio program is held in very high esteem in reformed circles; and I would urge them, as gently and lovingly as possible, to be as cautious and biblical as possible in how they make decisions on whom they will share their teaching platform with.

Let me close by saying that the issue in all this is not how to handle guests, who to share a platform with, etc.  The issue is that Anne Rice is not a straying sheep...she is in much greater peril than that. She needs life-giving truth, and she needs to repent of her idolatrous view of God and humble herself before the one true God...the One I fear she has never known.

photo credit: lanskymob via photo pin cc

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Testimony to the Power of God's Written Word

NOTE: this testimony was written for Sola Sisters by a friend and sister in Christ, guest writer Valerie Leone, after I urged her to write down her harrowing experiences with mysticism.  Valerie had these experiences as a believer.  Her testimony is a wonderful exhortation that we must "test all things" against Scripture, with the sobering knowledge that none of us are immune to being deceived.  Jesus exhorts believers over and over to not allow themselves to be deceived.  These words are aimed at the Church, not the world - those in the world are already deceived!

I was born into a family of Bible believing Christians. I was taught from birth that there was a God who I could know by Faith. I don’t remember a time that I did not believe in God. The problem is that the Scriptures teach that even the demons believe and shudder. I was not necessarily in good company.
At the age of 12 I started to read my Bible on my own. I have to admit that most of my reading was done in order to correct others and point the finger at their sins. I did not understand what I was reading. The word of God had not taken root in my heart; it was only on the surface.  This verse best describes my heart during my early adolescent years.
"Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. " (Matthew 13:18-19)
It wasn’t until I attended a small Bible college that I met some believers who were my age who really loved God and lived godly lives - not out of compulsion, but out of love for God. It was at this same time that I was required to take an Old Testament survey class, which meant that I had to read through the entire Old Testament. I have to admit I had never spent much time there, unless it was reading the Psalms or Proverbs. During this time I was convicted over my own sin.  I admitted that I was living in rebellion to God (even though if you were to compare me to most teenagers, I would have been considered a model child....looks can be deceiving.)

So even though the seeds of truth were being planted by my family, nothing happened until God’s word  started to plow up my hard heart, so that I could see my own sinful condition.  I was happy knowing that because of Christ’s sacrifice, my sins were forgiven, and in my mind I knew that I should turn away from my sins. For a while I would turn away from those things that I knew were sinful, but when hard times came, I turned back to my old ways. I was trying to stop sinning in my own strength (Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”).
"The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;  yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21)
This went on for years as I continued to struggle against my own sinful desires and the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I should be living to please God and not my flesh.  I would seem to walk in victory for a while, but then more troubles would come and I would fall down again. Then at the age of 26 I met the man of my dreams. George was a fairly new believer of only three years, and we both enjoyed talking about spiritual truth and studying the Scriptures.

Now as you can imagine, things went well at first, but then we hit some bumps in the road.  The first one was the most devastating because it damaged our foundation. The church that we had been attending, I for six years and George for about two years, changed directions. They started teaching that people needed to "experience a miracle" before they could be truly saved. George was very perceptive to pick up their using Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline” which teaches contemplative prayer, and God gave him the discernment to know that this was a dangerous path. At that time I knew nothing of Richard Foster and didn’t even know about contemplative prayer. There is much more to this situation, but it is sufficient to say that we were terribly hurt, and during this time in my life I became very skeptical of church leadership.

Now Satan used this to keep me from trusting God for many years. We did find another church that we thought was biblically sound and which we attended regularly for many years. During this time, George would never be the same. He went through the motions, taught Sunday School, and gave faithfully financially, but his heart was far from God.

I too was going through the motions. Over the next several years we were blessed with two healthy children. After the birth of our first child, a daughter, our marriage was suffering, as most do. Adjusting to “sharing me” was not going over very well with George.  So you can imagine that after our second child, a son, that everything was even worse.  I was not spending time reading the Bible or in prayer. I was so busy with the children and tired all of the time.  George became discouraged with my lack of discipline and he stopped reading and praying. I ended up having gall bladder problems and eventually had to have surgery when my son was less than a year old.
"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
After finally somewhat recovering from the gall bladder issue, I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in 2005. I had been on my knees desperately crying out to God for relief from the severe pain. Pain so bad that I couldn’t walk on my feet or even wear shoes. My hands so swollen and painful that I couldn’t hold a fork, wash my hands, or go to the bathroom by myself. It was very debilitating, so much so that I not only could not take care of my family, but I could not even take care of my own personal needs. 

I had no idea how vulnerable I was to deception at this point. I was spending a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible, and decided that I must rethink everything that I believed. I read through the gospels, focusing on the words of Christ, because I reasoned that everything that He said had to be of utmost importance. Now this is true, but then somehow along the way, I had been influenced to believe that prayer was two-way communication. I decided that I had been doing too much talking, and not enough time "listening" to what God had to say.

So I started spending time sitting in silence “in His presence” with the expectation that God was going to transform my heart spiritually during this time. Just like Mary sat at Jesus feet while Martha was working right? But in reality I was practicing visualization as well as meditation. Please know that I was not expecting to hear an audible voice, nor did I ever hear any voices, but I was definitely influenced in my thinking during these times of silence. I had been deceived into believing that I was going to hear from God by sitting in silence by waiting and listening. What I did experience was a beautiful illumination of light that was totally spiritual and not of this world.  It was so wonderful that I don’t have the words to describe it.  I was convinced that this was the glory of God, the Shekinah Glory.  I wanted all of my loved ones to have this wonderful experience.

After having this experience, I remembered having a similar thing happen back in the 1980s when I was in my early twenties. I had purchased a book by Madame Jeanne Guyon called “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ.”  I was very spiritually hungry at the time and had no idea that a “Christian” book that seemed to be pointing to Jesus Christ could be dangerous. While reading this book and following her suggestions, to sit and turn your thoughts inward, I had had my first mystical experience and entered an altered state of consciousness. At the time, it surprised and intrigued me.....but at the same time, it had also frightened me. I never shared what had happened with anyone, and though I tried again, never had another experience, until almost 20 years later, during my dark, searching period of October 2006. During these twenty years I had never made the connection that it was "sitting in the silence" that had been the catalyst. This vision was much more powerful than my first experience and I thought that because of my great piety, God had blessed me with this divine vision.

After some time had passed, I became very frustrated. None of the other believers around me seemed to have had a similar experience and I had no one to share my experience with. No one in my sphere of friendship had any understanding of what had happened to me.  I tried to share what had happened, but I felt like I was speaking another language and no one could understand me.

Anyway, I continued to diligently search the scriptures, and to test my experience by the Word of God. One of the biggest clues that I had been deceived was that I began to think and feel like I was more spiritual than my other Christian friends because I had this experience.  Pride is a sure indication of deception.

Then I started doing research on the internet and I found some disturbing testimonies by people who were not Christians who had similar experiences: for instance, a Mormon with an eerily similar story. At this point, I started to really question the source of the bright spiritual light. Not long after I found the Mormon testimony, my mother-in-law gave me a Catholic Bible that she had gotten from an elderly friend of hers that had been cleaning out their garage. Inside was a folded up paper entitled “How to pray the Gospels” that had been typed with an old typewriter. When I read it, alarm bells went off. At that point I started to research Madame Guyon and upon discovering that she was a Roman Catholic mystic, I realized that I had surely been deceived by a satanic messenger.

Slowly but surely, over a period of four to six months, the Word of God brought correction and rebuke and I repented for this act of rebellion. God showed me that this was not from Him, but it was a counterfeit from Satan, appearing as an angel of light, a messenger of light, if you will (2 Corinthians 11:14). If this had been God, He would have identified Himself, but also, we are not to summon up God. While researching mysticism, I found the Lighthouse Trails web site, and what I read there only confirmed that what I had been through was a very powerful counterfeit. I was truly humbled that my pride had so blinded me and thankful that I was set free from this deception. Still, I have to admit that this experience was so powerful and beautiful, that to this day I have to remind myself that this was demonic.

I learned that this practice goes by several names, one of which is "contemplative prayer." It was at this point that God taught me an important truth: Prayer is when we talk to God, and God talks back to us through the written Word.....the Bible.
“(Y)ou shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut 13:3)
So to sum things up, God has been doing a work in me from an early age, and He isn’t finished with me yet. I am so thankful for those people throughout my life who have been faithful to speak God’s word into my life and point me to the Truth of God’s word.
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..." (2 Cor 10:5)
I am continually striving, by God's grace, to take every thought captive, and to fight the good fight of faith, so that when I stand before the Lord, I will hear those most precious words: "Well done good and faithful servant." My heart's desire is to be pleasing to God, not because I must, but out of love for Him.  There are many times that God has tested me to see if I love Him, and I am humbled to look back and see proof that yes, even in painful times, my faith is in Him, not just what He can do for me. He gives me the strength to walk through the hard times, and like Job I can say, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust or hope in Him.”(Job 13:15)

The Lord will test us to see if we really love Him, and what confidence we have in His goodness when our faith is shown to be real. Each one of us must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  (Philippians 2:12) As we diligently seek Him to truly understand his Word, we will bear the fruit of righteousness, which comes only from abiding in His Word. (John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me”)
"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some  a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)
I like what Luke says after he recounts the parable of the sower.
"So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Luke 8:18)
I also can look back and see myself as the Pharisee in the following passage in Luke chapter 18 (The Pharisee and the Publican). I used to think that I was being thankful for all that God had done for me, but now I can look back and see that I was as deceived as the Pharisee. It wasn’t until I truly cried out for mercy that my understanding of Scripture started to grow. Deception is that way; we don’t even notice all the areas in which we have been deceived, until the truth is revealed. Each day I fill my mind with God’s word, which will keep me from deception and keep me humble before my God.
"And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 
 "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 
 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' 
 "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'  "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." " (Luke 18:9-14)

I know there are things that I've left out in this account, but the most important thing is that people are warned. These mystical practices may appear as a form of righteousness, but they are indeed demonic. No matter how long we have walked with the Lord, we are still only human. Unless we stay diligently in His Word, it is always possible for us to be deceived.

Satan has had a long time to polish his skills and knows God's word better than we probably ever will.  He is always watching for an opportunity that he can twist to his advantage.   Most Christians today can recognize the more obvious demonic deceptions that are hideous and evil (and which would manifest themselves in obvious sin, such as an immoral lifestyle). But there is another, even more sinister, Satanic ploy that uses pride and a false sense of righteousness (self righteousness) to deceive those who claim the name of Christ (the puffed up Pharisee).  Let us pray by God's grace that we would not be deceived by any of Satan's deceptions, be they the obvious ones......or, the more subtle ones that would tug at our flesh and our pride.

Grace and peace in His Name, Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind,
Valerie Leone

 Additional Resources 

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