Benedict of Nursia, Christianity, contemplation, deception, discerning the spirits, dying to self, experience, false gospel, false teachers, fame, following Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Jesus Christ, Joel Osteen, John of the Cross, Joyce Meyer, Lester Sumrall, mediation, Michael Clark, mystics, Resisting the Devil, riches, sacraments, Satan, success, Teresa of Ávila, the cross, worldly spirits, ZEN, Zig Ziglar
I just did a short research on the internet that left me quite frustrated, at least regarding the Christian notion of small things and big things. It has been quite obvious to me that this world is all about recognition, fame, money, fulfilling all your dreams and the pursuit of happiness through sensual pleasures. However, reading the views of famous and successful Christians (aha!), you could find several instructions and to-do lists on how to ”pray for the big things” (Joel Osteen) or the advice that ”spending time with God through prayer and His Word is a prerequisite for having a great life and fulfilling your purpose” (Joyce Meyer). The latter also said that, “I can tell you from experience that God’s help and presence in our lives is vital. He is the Author of all true success and everything that is good-without Him, we can do nothing of true value.” The problem with what these famous Christian preach and teach is that they sometimes offer a great deal of truth mixed with a tiny amount of lies. That can be really tricky at times as you might see when you read Joel Osteen’s whole quote that says, “I don’t think you should spend your life praying for things, but I do believe you should thank God for what He’s given you… but I think the scripture teaches us that we can pray for our dreams, pray for the big things… he’s not a small God; this God is incredible” (Emphasis in red is my suggestion of the little lies in these two quotes here).
Enough about the prosperity gospel preachers! In fact, I was just interrupted by a phone call which was quite thought-provoking for me. I learned that someone who has got stressed out with their everyday life (too much work, studies, and family activities) planned to attend a weekend seminar which offers an introduction into ‘Christian’ contemplation at a monastery. I put ‘Christian’ in quotes here since I found out that there were well-meaning Benedictine monks who did not know which spirit they were of as they mixed Asian Zen meditation with that which their founder, Benedict of Nursia, taught from his own contemplative experiences with the Holy Spirit working inside him. It seems to me it has been the same with any of these movements, whether their founders were Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, or even Martin Luther. There was always one person who had genuine experiences with God who felt nudged or urged to share them through their writings or through communication by speech. If their listeners and readers did not share the same Holy Spirit, they tried to continue in the flesh what had begun in the Spirit by creating religious principles and methods that seemed to be reasonable. Furthermore, they chose to rely on dogma and doctrine that satisfies human intellect or they sought salvation from their miserable condition by putting their confidence in visible and tangible things like sacraments or singing hymns which can bring forth some ‘religious’ feelings in our souls. Far from the idea to judge that behavior, I asked God during that phone call about what to DO or SAY here. God only answered, “I care!” My job was simply to pray two or three words, maybe a bit more. 😉 Also, I was just reminded of what Paul had written.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Tim 2:1-6 ESV)
It is relieving for me to surrender my idea of having to ‘save’, or at least warn, other people who have not yet come to a knowledge of God in Jesus Christ through my own words and doing(s). “Pray, and leave the rest up to me,” was what God once told me. His truth is always so simple. He does not make things complicated by burdening us with long speeches and addresses, either. God is truly a Man of few words, as Michael Clark often says. I know I wrote about this and other things before, however, I believe it is important to see that an inner voice that tries to convince us of truths we cannot grasp due to their complexity and confusedness cannot have originated in a genuine divine source. Instead, the author of confusion and an overworked mind is always Satan! If you look for an easy way to get confused (I am not really kidding here), you merely need to follow a (Christian) motivational speaker’s advice like this one, “If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” (Zig Ziglar) Or look at this quote by a former Pentecostal ‘apostle’,
“Don’t let environment get to you, we are the creators of environment, we are not the partakers of environment. We are not what the rest of the people are around us, we are what God made us to be. Our world is a place of environment and we all try to blend into environment, except God’s people; and we don’t blend we create, we are the light of the world and anything that needs to brighten up needs us. I am glad we are to be part and parcel of what God is doing in the earth today” (Dr. Lester Sumrall)
Not yet confused? Just rereading the last quote several times might help… 😉 Indeed, Lester Sumrall could easily be mistaken for having been a real Christian because he was a very smart guy who taught and preached Christian truth, too. Satan’s subtle lies are not that obvious to recognize in his case. But whoever has received Christ’s anointing won’t be easily deceived by any famous name because the anointing always warns us immediately when we have to do with the wrong spirits. My problem often is that I know (read perceive) at once when something is wrong about someone, but it needs a much longer time until I have received a both compelling and evident confirmation from God I can finally share with others.
I do not really know how I got off on this track as to discerning the spirits of ‘Christian’ names and leaders, but I guess there might be a reason why God led me this way. Originally, didn’t I plan to write about how to meet God in our daily lives? 😉 Well, let me say it this way, by paraphrasing my old mystical friend Teresa of Ávila whose quote can be found at my kitchen cabinet (but only in German). She said,
“Don’t forget that God is there between your pots and pans. He remains steadfastly on your side, ready to support you in any inner and outer task.”
It seems to me the lesson today is to seek God’s help and advice more than man’s. Even we as Christians can be easily led astray when we allow ourselves to be blinded by success that expresses itself in numbers, by impressive worldly or religious titles, and even by what other Christians might tell us haphazardly. A group of people can be very convincing, right? If you are the only one who senses that there is something wrong, you need a lot of staying power to resist other believers’ often both logical and scriptural arguments. This power to resist the devil and to endure must come from the Holy Spirit as we particularly see when we look at Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. As He went to the cross, He was all alone. Let us also take up our crosses daily and die to our old self’s tendency to belong… to this world…. to an acknowledged Christian community…. in fact, to anything or anyone else but Jesus Christ.