Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Sweetes Flowers Are Found In The Canyons

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful day.

I read in my devotions this morning, a story that I thought all of you might enjoy and hopefully encourage you this weekend. 

"For our profit" Hebrews 12:10

In one of Ralph Connor's books he tells a story of Gwen.  Gwen was a wild, willful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to having her own way.  Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life.  She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the sky pilot, as the missionary among the moutaineers was termed.
     He told her the parable of the canyon. "At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie.  One day the Master of the prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the prairie, 'Where are your flowers?' and the prairie said, 'Master, I have no seeds.'


     "Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long.  Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the prairie: 'Where are the clematis and columbine, the sweet violets and wildflowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?'
     "And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide.  But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said: 
     'Where are those my sweetest flowers?' and the prairie cried sorrowfully:
     'Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.'
     "Then the Master spoke to the lightning, and with one swift blow the lightning cleft the prairie to the heart.  And the prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound.
     "But the river poured its waters throught the cleft, and carried down deep black mold, and once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon.  And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vine, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted up their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and windflower and maidenhair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master's favorite place for rest and peace and joy."
     "Then the sky pilot read to her: 'The fruit - I'll read flowers' - of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness - and some of these grow only in the canyon."
     "Which are the canyon flowers?" asked Gwen softly, and the pilot answered: "Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon."
     For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: "There are no flowers in my canyon but only ragged rocks."
     "Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them."

Beloved, when you come to your canyon, remember!

This is from the book "Streams In The Desert" by L.B. Cowman

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Seeking Your Forgiveness....

Dear Readers,

I have to ask your forgiveness about a few of the posts that I have recently posted.  I can not tell you how sorry I am.

This past January I heard about a book called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  I had seen her book in the Christian bookstores but as our family is very skeptical of every book that hits the shelves because of the amount of unbiblical writings out there, I hadn't even looked at it.  However, in January I read a review on it that looked really good.  It talked about how we need to view everything in this world as gifts from God - even those things that don't seem good, because God allows everything for our greater good. I am sorry to say I was going through a time where I was really struggling and was looking for something that would help pull me out and help me to refocus.  I hoped that this would be a book that was written in a unique and personal way and that it would remind me of the things that I was having a hard time focusing on (the blessings I am surrounded by).
I admit that reading "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are" was a struggle for me.
"Written entirely in the present tense, using an approach to the English language that takes numerous liberties for the sake of creating poetic feeling (like using adjectives when the rules of grammar demand an adverb and consistently having adjectives follow rather than precede the nouns they modify), Voskamp weaves a tale of discovering devotion to God through encounters with nature and art. In her experience, Voskamp found the secret to joy through what she calls eucharisteo ("giving thanks" transliterated from the Greek)."[1]
I didn't understand everything she was saying because of the way she wrote it and I didn't think too deeply about everything because I was looking through the "glasses" of my worldview, searching for things I could understand that would help bring me out of this struggle I was in.

I just finished reading chapter seven this morning and to be honest, I have gotten some very meaningful things out of her book.  However, because I didn't understand everything she was saying, I was picking out specific things I could understand and applying them.  For example, I saw her desire to see God in everything, not as a pantheistic view, but rather as Gifts that my heavenly Father had given me.  He isn't actually in them, nor they in Him, but He made them and I need to see the blessings and positive things He has given me.

Last evening, as I was checking my "Reading List" on my Blogger dashboard, I saw that Melinda at "Radiant Purity and True Beauty" had written a post titled "Pantheism and False Doctrine."  My love for apologetics caused me to find this title interesting as I had taken some classes on "Worldviews vs The Christian Worldview."  Needless to say I was shocked to see what she had written.

"When I first heard of Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts, I thought it sounded great. After all, we all see we need more gratitude and simplicity in our lives. So I bought it. But I returned it. It's full of false doctrine.  And scary doctrine.  Packaged in an appealing, dramatic writing form that attracts women, young and old, by swarms.  It's not good, folks.  Don't take it at face value...evaluate it with God's Word.  For that matter, never, ever, ever take anything for face value. Evaluate it closely with God's Word. Don't be deceived."[2]

I've been following Melinda's blog for almost two years now and I feel that we are on the same page on most things.  So if she felt led to write something that was a warning to other Christians I felt that there was some credibility to the warning.  She left a link to another blog that was doing a review on "One Thousand Gifts" and I followed it and again was hit with mixed emotions.  (Here is the link to those reviews)

I wanted to believe that the review was wrong.  How could a book that had brought such joy to my heart have so much false doctrine in it?  How could I have missed that false doctrine?  But I ultimately wanted to find the truth.  If this book had false doctrine in it, I needed to make an informed decision and do some research.  The relationship I have with God is not dependent upon my emotions or what a book says.  As a Christian, I need to be ready to "give an answer to every man that asketh you (me) a reason of the hope that is in you (me)." ~I Peter 3:15 

When I started taking classes in apologetics & worldviews a few years ago, I realized how important it is to search out the truth, compare what I read to Scripture, and be ready to give an answer. 

So, I started researching.  Here are a few links I found.  I need to say right up front that I am not endorsing the blogs, websites or the people that are writing them.  However the reviews I read on them helped me to understand why this book is unbiblical.  (Warning: Some of the content in Ann's book is graphic and in order to make their point some of the blogs used quotes that you will want to be careful when reading.)

By Bob DeWaay found on the blog "By Grace Alone"
*One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: A Book Review Series - This is the first review I read. The one that Melinda sent her readers to, "Echoes In The Wind".
*One Thousand Gifts - A Gift or Bad Fruit? - This blog ("No Ordinary Faith")has two posts that I felt were really good.
Just to help prepare you as you go to read the above articles:
Pantheism: A belief that identifies the forces/energy of nature with god; god is everything and everything is god.[3]
"This ancient concept (pantheism) forms the theological foundation of the New Age movement." "Everything has divine power in it,' says Roman Catholic New Ager Matthew Fox, and this divine force is what gives the planet its 'sacredness."[4] "An example of pantheistic theology occurs in a New Age children's book entitled What Is God?: 'There are manyways to talk about God.  Does that mean that everything that everybody says about God is right?  Does that mean is everything? Yes! God is great and small!  God is everything far away and near!  God is everything bright and dark!  And God is everything in between!" [5]

This battle between the many different worldviews must be confronted and we must be ready to "give an answer."  It is a battle for the hearts and minds of the current generation as well as the ones to come.

"As believers in and followers of Jesus Christ, we need to consider how our commitment to Him affects...the way we think and act about theology, philospohy, ethics, biology, psychology, sociology, law, politics, econmics and history.  This collection of convictions is what we call a worldview.  And it is in the arena of worldviews that one of the greatest battles of our time is now being waged 24/7 in each of the ten areas listed above."[6]

"As Christians, our worldview should be based on the Bible and constructed around the person of Jesus Christ.  What would Jesus think?  What would Jesus do?" [7]

Please understand that I bring this up out of a sincere desire to rectify something that I allowed to happen on my blog and I am truly sorry.  As you read the other blogs, please read them with discernment, ask God to help you understand so that you can rightly divide what is truth and what is not.

Prayerfully Seeking Him,

            3. Understanding The Times by David Noebel page 74
                4.  ibid as well as Matthew Fox, in an interview with Laura Hagar, "The Sounds of Silence," New
                    Age Journal (March/April 1989)
               5. Understanding The Times by David Noebel page 74
               6. Understanding The Times by David Noebel page 2
               7. Understanding The Times by David Noebel page 3