Tag: cultish

Screen Time and Sound Waves: Utilizing Technology During Quarantine and ALL the Links You Could Ever Want

I’m almost embarrassed to say how little this “shelter-in-place” mandate has altered our lifestyle. Other than not going down the mountain every one or two weeks for church, music lessons, shopping and appointments, the only real change has been the increased screen time. Church, lessons and shopping are now all on-line. Plus we’ve been taking advantage of some of the great on-line learning resources that have now been made temporarily available for free.  We just started The Great American Story course through Hillsdale College. Next will be the World War II course taught by Victor Davis Hanson. How cool to have my own kids able to learn from one of the same instructors that I sat under while studying philosophy at Fresno State! Downside is that it’s more screen time.

Ditto for Ligonier Ministries who has just made all their on-line resources available for free through June, including their interactive group Bible studies! We’re talking about a monumental amount of sound Biblical teaching now just a click away. For example, you can take Elisabeth Elliot’s video course “Suffering Is Not for Nothing” with over 1000 other participants and invite a bunch of friends to be apart of your on-line study group. Downside is that its more screen time.

Not all of Ligonier’s resources require a screen. One of my favorite freebies is their internet radio app called RefNet.  We discovered this audio resource when Tom’s Mom was sick with cancer. We even added it to her Alexa so all she had to do was say “Alexa, play RefNet” and a 24/7 line up of her favorite teachers–Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Nancy Guthrie, and dozens of others–would play at her command. The messages are interspersed with quality traditional Christian music, Bible readings, devotional readings, and even news breaks from a Christian perspective. At a time when our elderly are now even more isolated than ever, this could be a life changing gift for someone you know.  They even play the Lamplighter Theatre’s audio series in the evenings for the kiddos. My younger boys love these action packed stories and I love that they don’t need a screen to enjoy it. Last night we blasted “Escape From the Eagle’s Nest” from the front porch while they sledded and built a line of snowmen down the middle of the road (fewer than 10 and they were all at least 6 feet apart, of course).

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I’m a serious podcast junky and being home 24/7 has only fed that appetite. Growing up  in a house without TV meant the height of electronic entertainment was listening to Family Radio. The voices of J. Vernon McGee and Charles Swindoll were as familiar to me as the sound of the furnace clicking on in the morning or the crunch of the gravel as my Dad’s car pulled into the driveway every evening. I love it that my boys already know by name the voices of Steve Lawson, Doug Wilson, Paul Washer, James White, Alistair Begg, the Apologia guys, the Cultish guys, the G3 guys, the Just Thinking guys, and even the gals from Sheologians, What Have You, Relatable and my favorite Mama Bear apologist, Alisa Childers.

But even the voices of the best teachers can become a distraction and like Saul, we need some music to soothe the soul. I used to be a hymns and classical-only kind of gal so Bach was my go-to method of relaxation. The whole world of classical music is available for streaming on-line. Now I get the even greater privilege of hearing Joel practicing my favorite hymns on the piano, or Nathan doing the same on his violin or cello, or Titus rearranging some Bach for his mandolin. But Titus has also broadened my musical horizons with other genres and now I’m enjoying listening to him play things like “Take Me Home West Virginia” or “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” or even his original “A Blues 65” on his Youtube channel. If you all aren’t subscribed to it yet, you should be.

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The boys have also figured out other ways to utilize the airwaves during this time of social distancing. A while back I bought a cheapo 4-pack of walky-talkies which they managed to rig discarded radio antennae onto. From the top of our ridge they’ve been in communication with their good friends who live in another town about 30 miles away. These friends also own a weekend cabin up here so they’re sheltering in place less than 1/2 mile away but no one can get together. So out come the walky-talkies. They’ve even been playing games over them by drawing out each-others’ moves. Radio Jenga anyone?

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With all these sounds and lit-up screens around me, I’m left wondering what a pandemic would have looked like before the age of wifi.  For us that was just last summer.  Until then our only option up here was very costly satellite internet. We had to walk down the road to a friend’s house to catch a signal or to the camp office to plug in. Then Tom signed up to get his Mdiv through the distance learning program at Master’s Seminary. That’s when we realized just how much of a pain it was going to be to get all his work done at the office and just how impossibly expensive it would be to pay for satellite ourselves. So we prayed about it. We prayed that if seminary was really God’s will for Tom that He would provide the way to get it done. THE NEXT DAY Kingsburg Media Foundation was at the camp, scouting it out to see if we were a possible candidate for their reduced-cost internet services.  What a timely provision!  And even more so when I think of how difficult it would have been to shelter-in-place without being able to access our church service live-stream, shopping, classes, music lessons, and more on-line.

I guess there’s never really a good time for a pandemic but it amazes me how the advent internet has changed the face of this one.

 

 

 

 

Tolle Lege: “The Physics of Heaven” part 3

I’ve been putting this third part off out of dread of having to open up that sorcerers handbook known as “The Physics of Heaven” put out by the leadership of Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church, Redding.  It really has become a wearisome task but I aim to see it through.  You may ask why.  Go ahead.  I do every time I turn a page.  But then the glaring heresies that greet my eye provide the answer.  People I love have bought these lies.  And hundreds more in my acquaintance are entrenched in the worship culture mass-produced by this kind of teaching.  And all the while the one true God as revealed in the pages of His sacred scripture is misrepresented, maligned, and minimized.  You might think heresy is a strong word but here is what it means according to Oxford: “Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.”  And here are a few examples from “The Physics of Heaven”:

1. A new doctrine of angels: “God sends angels to run errands on our behalf.” The example given in the book is of an apostolic leader saying “God is beginning to release Kingdom building codes.”  Right after, an angel stood in front of Cal Pierce and said, “I’m sent by God to answer your question about the energy crisis.  I am the energy angel.”  This angel went back with Cal to his hotel room to talk about energy.  The angel showed him the plans for a “water car” on a scroll and also “shared how water produces energy and about Niagara Falls and how we can use water to produce power”(89,90). Now I’m pretty sure the concept of hydro-electric power showed up long before that so-called angel but the next level of this heresy is certainly brand new.

2. A new doctrine of God’s Word: “God’s Word is living and active and it will not return void”(92).  This is true.  Nothing heretical there.  But what follows is this, “What makes it not return void?  Angels” (92). Here’s their explanation:

“When you get the will or word of God in you, you have something in you of God that is creative.  When the creator releases a word, the word itself becomes creative.  Angels obey the sound of His word. When we speak His word, angels then take what we say to completion… they are waiting to for us to speak the sound of God’s word so that they can take it out to accomplish what He has sent it to do.  It’s our partnering with the angels and angelic activity that is going to cause sound to become creative.  Angels are around you to activate the revelation of the truth that you speak out into its creative form.  That’s why faith requires a confession–so that it can be heard.  Because Angels don’t know what you’re thinking, they’re waiting to hear what you’re saying.  So as we speak out the word that God has given us, angels will begin to bring it to completion and it will no longer go out void… That’s why the Word requires a sound” (92,93).

3. A new doctrine of the Holy Spirit:  According to “The Physics of Heaven, the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as promised by Jesus Christ was incomplete.  But “we are on the verge of experiencing Pentecost at a new level and in a new measure” (95).  Since we never got the fullness of Pentecost, since what Christ Himself promised was insufficient, here’s what we “really need”:

“What we really need is to experience something beyond the realm of mere proclamation.  We need to see and experience God with all of our spiritual, emotional and physical senses.  We need to be impacted with the same kind of ‘sound’ from heaven that penetrated the atmosphere on the day of Pentecost.  I’m weary of sermons and teachings that only restate our need for transformation.  What I’m hungry for is to experience something fresh from heaven.  Now! Not later!” (95,96)

4. A new doctrine of the fall and regeneration: Orthodox Christianity affirms that according to Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve committed cosmic treason against their Creator plunging the entire creation into immanent death and ruinous destruction, they hid themselves from the very God with whom they had perfect fellowship with when they heard the sound of Him walking in the garden. This has been the natural state of man ever since.  And unless He calls to us as He called Lazarus out of the tomb, we remain in that guilty state forever.  But “The Physics of Heaven” has a different story to tell:

“Through the ‘sound’ of God’s voice, divine energy was released, splitting the atoms and forming a heaven and earth suitable for the habitation of created man.  Not long afterward, this created man, Adam, also heard the sound of God’s voice in the Garden, beckoning him to a deeper relationship with his Creator.  All this tells me that a divine sound from heaven, or at least the sound of God’s voice, can cause mind-boggling phenomena to happen. In the case of Adam, hearing the sound of God’s voice was merely an invitation into a deeper realm of supernatural experience.  That which began as a sound, apparently, led to multiple expressions of seeing, feeling, sensing, and communicating with the Creator” (96,97).

After making a fallacious connection between “the sound of God’s voice to Adam” being “an introduction into other realms of encountering God, and the sound of the wind at Pentecost opening the believers “up to other realms of supernatural phenomena” the author ties both events to the experience of “synesthesia.”

“Synesthesia, ‘meaning to perceive together,’ causes a person’s neural pathways to be cross-wired in such a way that their five senses interact with each other.  This unusual mingling of their senses allows them to hear colors, smell numbers, taste sound, and so forth.  Considering the description of Pentecost in the book of Acts, it appears that a spiritual synesthesia of sorts happened on that day… a heavenly ‘sound’ can create a heightened level of synesthesia that opens our senses to extreme encounters with the supernatural… What if the men and women at Pentecost had only embraced what they heard?  It’s possible that they would have missed God altogether.  Instead, after hearing a new sound, they were willing to allow that sound to cause a synesthetic response in them.  Through this cross-wiring of their spiritual senses, the neural pathways of the spirit realm created a myriad of spiritual encounters.  This is the kind of heavenly sound for which I’ve been longing.  It’s a new sound that will trigger our senses to ‘hear’ what we see and ‘see’ what we hear… the more our senses are involved in receiving from Heaven, the more of God’s Spirit we will retain.  In this next move of the Spirit, I am convinced that our encounter with God will radically transform the realm of our senses.  This will be the second Pentecost… In light of this truth, we need to start training ourselves to hear from God with our entire being.  No longer should we limit the way we ‘receive,’ nor should we cling to the ways we’ve preciously ‘heard’ His voice” (97-99).

Beloved, the only thing that prevents a person from hearing the voice of God is the fact that they are dead in their sins.  And they remain dead in their sins because God has not called them out of the darkness of that sin-sealed tomb.  1 Corinthians 4:6 says that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  When God says ‘Let there be light!’ or ‘Lazarus, come out!’ or ‘Sinner, be born again!’ neither darkness, nor corpse, nor rebel has any ability to un-hear that voice.  Moreover, when a person is made alive through the quickening of the Holy Spirit, there is no partial quickening.  Jesus Christ promised the Holy Spirit in full and the Holy Spirit delivers in full.  There is nothing we can do to receive more or less of His presence any more than there is anything an unregenerate person can do to be made a little more alive or a regenerate person can do to be made a little more dead.  It is absolute heresy to say that “the more our senses are involved in receiving from Heaven, the more of God’s Spirit we will retain.”

5. A new doctrine of worship: It’s important to understand this one because many would argue that there’s nothing wrong with singing the worship music produced by people who subscribe to this New Age mindset.  I urge you to consider the way worship is perceived by the producers of this book, the same producers of much of the mainstream worship music filling our churches, airwaves, and playlists today.

“If the essence of everything is vibrational , then it is fair to say that everything carries its own sound… One of the greatest revivals in human history–the vibration of heaven in Acts–set all kinds of things in motion.  Why? Because, the 120 believers in the Upper Room didn’t get hung up on sound alone.  They let the sound take them somewhere else, triggering all their senses to the point that they were drunk from the vibration… I believe that many of the spiritual discoveries of the New Age movement could be likened to the time in the Old Testament when the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant from Israel. In both cases, then and now, that which belongs to the church fell into the hands of unbelievers.  So, in order to posture ourselves for the next move of God, like King David, we must take back what is ours.  Certain dynamics such as synesthesia, quantum physics,  and ‘vibrations’ are God-stuff, and we must not be afraid to seize what belongs to the Creator of all things… It shouldn’t be a surprise that David was a worshipping musician.  It was his worshipping spirit that played a big part in taking back the Ark.  This says to me that the coming sound of worship and warfare is going to be much more than we previously imagined” (102-104).

Here’s the goal of their worship folks:

“What if God chooses to speak more frequently in colors and numbers in this next outpouring?  What if he uses colors, numbers, smell, feeling and sound at the same time?  Or speaks to us in a combination of modalities that are physical, mental, and emotional, or even vibrational?  Are we really open to ‘new things’ in God?  The answer should be yes! And our cry should be, ‘Speak to us God!  We are now aware that You want to activate our spiritual and physical eyes, ears, taste, smell, and other senses.  No longer will we allow our minds to block out the sound of heaven because of our religious dogma.  We are committed to developing the sensitivity of our spirit, soul, and body, so that we can experience all the different ways Heaven expresses itself

As long a post as this has become, sadly it only covers 15 more pages of the book– which means in this section alone we’re averaging a heresy every 3 pages.

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Shred it.

P.S. I’m adding this link today because the Cultish podcast just released their 3 part series interviewing 2 former new-agers on their inside perspective on Bethel Church and the New Age.  They specifically reference this book! Click here to listen.

Tolle Lege: “The Physics of Heaven” part 2

In my last post I began an examination of “The Physics of Heaven” put out by the leadership of Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church, Redding.  I only got about 1/3 of the way through the book on that one, and now I just want to focus on the middle section.  Here are a few quotes from “The Physics of Heaven” which highlight Bethel’s teachings on sound, music, and worship.

  1. “We live in the ‘Information Age,’ an age of increasing revelation, prophetic insight, and sensitivity to the spirit realm… I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me some of the pieces of the puzzle to heaven’s sound, so the information I share with you about sound, light and vibration will be based on scientific fact, confessed speculation, and spiritual revelation” (65,66).
  2. “Everything that God has ever brought forth has come from His creative voice–the same voice which impregnates the earth with light, sound, music, and glory, the elements of God.  The sound of heaven that is called the “sound of many waters” in Revelation 14:2, encompasses all the frequencies in the sound spectrum.  The four universal elements are water, wind, fire, and earth.  The sound of heaven–all the frequencies of the sound spectrum–can be heard in water, wind, and fire.  We are made of the fourth element which is earth.  When He created us, He simply animated dirt… We are the creatures God chose to give free will to accept or reject His sound breathing in us… we have a choice to align our sound with the sound of heaven… we have been given the creative ability to release the sound of God” (66,67).
  3. “Sound has the power to change everything… Music is the indicator.  Sound sets the tone for her [the church’s] destiny.  Throughout the generations of history, the spiritual climate of God’s people has always responded to a musical indicator.  With every revival, there has been a release of new music or new sound… the sound changes as God’s people respond to what God is doing and saying… God unveils new songs and new sounds in relationship to the new revelation of His presence in His people” (69,70).
  4. “Particular sounds, tones and frequencies motivate us to particular responses… When the sound of many waters, which is the song of the Lord, comes illuminating out of heaven and joins the realm that we are living in, phenomenal things happen… When the sound of heaven is magnified by the creative force of God releasing His authority to the earth, the sound of corporate worship is heard… Every time that sound visited the earth something phenomenal took place.  When the sound that resonates out of the heart of God’s people comes into agreement with the sound resonating out of God’s heart, we find worship on Earth as it is in heaven” (72,73).
  5. “We produce a sound that’s been in us since the beginning of time.  We bring to life the full meaning of Emmanuel–Christ with us, Christ revealed in us… Christ will be revealed as we hear His sound and release our individual, God appointed sound as His unique instruments… Christ in you is the hope of being ‘lit,’ or the hope of being ‘sounded.’ Christ is your hope of producing the sound that has resided in you since the beginning go time… The sound God desires to release will chase religion from the church and bring truth”(74,75).
  6. “Modern scientific discoveries have recently joined the voice of ancient sacred writings to pull back the veil of ignorance that once shrouded the power of sound in God’s universe.  Today these applied sciences and theologies can be woven together toward the redemptive understanding of sounds that heal, deliver, destroy, and open up portals in the heavenly realms… Quantum physics serves as one of the great scientific disciplines bridging the river of confusion between science and biblical kingdom thinking” (77).
  7. “Trees, plants, rocks and people are perhaps music that has taken on visible form… How can we begin hearing more?  How can we increase our sensitivity to the sounds of God in whatever form they appear?  Open your heart, your eyes, and your ears with an expectancy to encounter the sounds and sights of heaven on a new level… No more passive seeing or hearing.  Activate your sensitivity to your aural and spiritual environment.  When you suspect a unique sound or light encounter–follow it” (82-86).

For those of you who are aware of the false teachings of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church Redding but still defend the practice of using their music in your worship setting because the songs themselves don’t appear to be saying anything unbiblical, please consider the ideology behind the music.  This isn’t about throwing a song out because of the compromised lifestyle of the author (if that was the case we wouldn’t be singing some of the Psalms of David or “It Is Well With My Soul”).  This is about promoting and participating in a form of worship based on manifestly unbiblical teaching and New Age  practice.  Can the church be too careful about the ways and means we use to worship a Holy God?  Shouldn’t we at least make sure that what we are singing was written with that same triune God in mind?  Take for instance the following hymn lyrics:

“We thank thee for every blessing
Bestowed by thy bounteous hand.
We feel it a pleasure to serve thee
And love to obey thy command.
When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliv’rance is nigh.”

Those words certainly seem just as edifying as any modern worship song’s.  And yet when you add the first stanza, you should have reason for pause:

“We thank thee, O God, for a prophet
To guide us in these latter days.
We thank thee for sending the gospel
To lighten our minds with its rays.”

This song is straight out of a Mormon hymnal, which also includes many favorites from the Protestant church.  Should we throw out some of our hymns because the Mormon church has adopted them?  No!  Should we maybe examine them and see if there is any untruth in them that promotes Mormon ideology?  Yes!  Should we think twice before using Mormon hymns in our own corporate worship?  Yes!  Should we think twice before using worship songs that are being produced in an environment with a known penchant for false teaching?  Yes!  Is our God not worthy of our highest praise?  Please church, let’s stop settling for less simply because it’s popular.

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Shred it.