A Letter to the Church-Wounded in “Exile”;
This is a very sensitive message, one I hope to convey with a heart of humility and grace, one I pray will bring a little healing to those who are hurting for reasons beyond your control or choosing.
There are many who have passed through the fires of being “wounded in the house of a friend,” of being on the receiving end of rejection, misunderstanding and sometimes even dismissal or exile due to rancorous and painful church circumstances and dealings. Few dare to speak of it, for fear of being viewed as a malcontent, a bitter soul, a troublemaker or worse. But truth be known, there are multitudes, both people and pastors, sheep and shepherds, who have been mangled by the machinery of church professional business dealings and decisions, especially in our purpose-driven and megachurch age. For both leader and member, nothing stings more than realizing you have suddenly lost your place, your purpose, your “church family.” Yet for the sake of unity, God requires that you bear the pain of it and say not a word, though you be wronged, though your heart cries for understanding, though your flesh longs to lash out and wound those who have wounded you.
Many remain churchless, or without a pulpit, afraid to try again. Many have tried other churches – knowing they need to be in fellowship – only to find a church driven by the same machinery and business dealings that broke their lives and their hearts.
Many, though they would be too proud to admit it, still wait for a call, a text, something from someone in their former fellowship that says, “You still matter. We miss you. We’re sorry if we hurt you.” But the call rarely if ever comes. It is a desolate thing to be “cut off from the life of the church,” even though you are not cut off from the life of Jesus. One can feel as alone and desolate as Joseph who was sent away by his own family to a house of unfamiliar faces and to obscurity and an unknown future and calling.
My heart especially hurts for former or current pastors, youth pastors or church leaders and elders who were deemed too old-fashioned, too “Word-based,” not relevant enough, or young enough, exciting enough, etc. and found themselves given the “left foot of fellowship” – often with a smile, a wave and a parting gift (or not!) simply because PROGRESS must be made, and the new paradigm fairly demands that the old guard get off the stage. After all, we were told by the father of purpose-driven, “What do pillars do? They hold things up…” The sting when you realize it really is not personal, it is just a business decision “for the sake of the church” can be excruciating, indeed. You realize you were simply a broken cog in an apparatus, easily replaced. As I heard a pastor say after hosting a concert by a formerly sought-after Christian artist who now only saw small crowds, “Look what we have done to our treasures. Shame on us.”
If you have felt this – experienced this – if you have had to depart from a fellowship because of these changes, or for any reason that you did not foresee or even want – if you are in this Joseph-like place, few words can comfort, though Joseph’s story surely will. Still, this morning, FB Meyer’s words speak deeply:
“Though stripped of his coat, he had not been stripped of his character. See to it that no one rob you of that! Everything else may be replaced but that!”
God sees your heart, and your hurt. But as with Joseph, God’s main concern is not what was done to you but HOW YOU RESPOND. Though you may have lost your coat (place) never lose your character! Stay sweet. Refuse bitterness. Love and pray for those you no longer are able to even be with. As in Gene Edward’s A Tale of Three Kings, David said, “In my youth…I was David. In my old age, I will be David still. Even if it costs me a throne, a kingdom.”
Many have left fellowships under painful circumstances and leave bitter and angry, taking many with them, and starting a new fellowship (which rarely last long.) I do not believe this is God’s way, ever. If you have left, God requires the hardest thing – that you do so quietly and remain in love, in forgiveness, and in Jesus-like character. That is the coat of character no hard and painful circumstance can take away. Yield that coat and take on the mantle of bitterness, coldness, and anger, and all God was planning for you is at stake. Do not become an Absalom seeking a throne or a Saul seeking to throw spears. Remain a David, even in exile. Does not God surely have an unstoppable plan for you yet?
Joseph – alone, abandoned by all but God, remained Joseph – a sweet, godly young man even under unbearable grief, rejection, loss, and misunderstanding.
And in the end – oh, in the end! God gave Joseph a coat of authority and purpose that only his humble, God-tested character could wear. And in the end, even the injuries were made right, because he saw, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)
I write this to those who may have or are feeling the “pain of exile” from a church or even family. God knows your heart. His plan for you has never changed. May God bless you with a new and precious fellowship with believers for whom the words “church family” are not just words but a way of life. May he grant you grace to forgive those you left behind who may indeed miss you, but who are so caught up in the busy work of church activity that they simply become swept up in the “out of sight, out of mind” way of such things. Forgive those who injured, especially those who felt it was justified to do so. That may be the hardest. God requires it nonetheless. Wait…heal…trust…If, after years of faithful service, you find yourself without a place, these words again from A Tale of Three Kings speak: “But today I shall give ample space for this untelling God of ours to show us His will. I know of no other way to bring about such an extraordinary event except by doing NOTHING! The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.”
All things – and you, dear friend, are in His loving care. Wait…pray…heal…and hang on to the character of Jesus through it ALL. God is not through with you yet. The best is yet to be!
With Jesus’ grace and care,
Gregory R Reid
There was a time when ideas like yoga or eastern meditation in the church were only associated with Christ Science churches, Universalist Churches, and a few spurious non-biblical fringe places. In a few scant decades, the walls have been so completely torn down that we not only see no harm in these things, we promote them. This is exactly what Theosophist (Luciferian) leader Alice Bailey predicted would be part of the new age infiltration into the church: ““The three main channels through which the preparation for the new age is going on might be regarded as the Church (emphasis mine) the Masonic Fraternity and the educational field.” (The Externalization of the Hierarchy, Page 511.)
So, in fact, this has been underway for some time. It probably began to get a real foothold in our present time with Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” theology, quickly adapted by Rev. Robert Schuller who was really the first modern “megachurch” and “Seeker Friendly” church pastor. Their ideas were once considered a bit of an aberration from mainstream Christian doctrine. But here we are decades later, and seeker friendly and power of positive thinking is normal and unchallenged. The crack into Bible-based evangelical churches had begun to open just a little…
Fast forward: In the last three decades we have opened our doors to things like the laughter movement, barking like dogs and oinking like pigs and calling it the “anoinking of the Spirit,” and worse. A number of leaders challenged these things, but its promoters did not repent of it.
A few years later, spiritual formation, “be still” meditation, breathing techniques, “Christian” yoga, “the sacred feminine,” labyrinths, circle making – all an extension of exotic religions, eastern mysticism, and Buddhist/Hindu tools to reach “the divine within” – all began to creep into church media, books, music and movies. Even Father Thomas Merton came to be revered by many evangelicals – a man who said at the end of his life that he wished to ““to become as good a Buddhist as I can,” as well as Henri Nouwen, who influenced millions of evangelicals but at the end of his life denied that Jesus was the only way to the Father.
The door opened a little wider…where were the watchmen? Where were the Shepherds? One at a time, I began to see even pastors welcome these things. And as these things crept in, the Word of God began to become an addendum to our lives, a devotional nicety but not central in our walk with Jesus, and no longer our final determination of truth.
Slowly, the poison seeped into our ranks…one book, one DVD, one movie at a time. Everyone ignored the subtle twisting of the Word of God in Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis,” hailing it as “groundbreaking.” And indeed, it was, but not in a good way. His next book, “The Sex God” raised a few eyebrows, but youth pastors everywhere still adored him and emulated him and bought glasses and cool clothes just to look just like him in an attempt to “relate to youth.” Millennial youth pastors began diluting the Word of God and preparing little mini-messages to justify their increasingly party-like youth group atmosphere which was strong on entertainment and weak on the Word of God.
Then Rob Bell wrote “Love Wins,” denying hell and proclaiming universalism – the idea that everyone gets saved. And now, he is speaking at conferences alongside New Age guru Deepak Chopra at conferences titled things like, “The Seduction of Spirit.” 
When he was exposed as being truly a non-evangelical false teacher, I heard nothing but crickets from all those who formerly sang his praises. But by then, everyone was off chasing the next big thing anyway, the next bestseller, the next circle-making, ear-tickling, scripture-diluting thing. We had begun forming a pattern of going after the latest “it,” or hot speaker, or bestselling book, and then when it turned out the thing or person was fraudulent, in error or full of deception, almost no one took responsibility for originally supporting or promoting them – least of all the Christian media and those who peddled their products – even when these false teachers were fully exposed. Very few took responsibility for an evangelist’s crazy, ungodly antics in Florida that hundreds of thousands of believers flocked to see, while behind the scenes he was conducting an affair that shredded his wife and kids. (For the record, I deeply believe in restoring fallen servants of the Lord.) They gave him a short time-out (“restoration process”) and bam! He was back on the circuit – new wife, new life. And few took responsibility for calling him – no, for laying hands on and anointing him – as the “world apostle” in front of an international audience.
Very few called a well-known “prophet” to account for his 2007 prophecy that Obama would be a mighty man of God – a Christian – who would set everything right. They just said, “Oh well, nobody’s perfect” and kept supporting and following his ministry anyway.
Rarely do people say, “we were wrong.” Rarely do leaders say, “We were in error.” And because of that, unrepentant error in discernment has led to greater and greater error, because deception is a PROGRESSIVE DISEASE.
The more error we receive, the more the ability to discern goes numb and then dies in us. It applies to us as individuals. It applies to churches.
Nobody was alarmed that Roma Downey was still attending a new age college at the same time she was working on their television series “The Bible” or that she never renounced her new age beliefs, despite the fact that these concerns were brought to some of the highest levels of leadership in the church and corporate Christian world possible. They gave her a pass on those issues because, as I was told, the benefits of how it would reach people outweighed the theological problems. And nothing kept several bits of clear gnostic teaching from being inserted into their movies, including giving a prominent role to Mary Magdalene, whom new agers consider the “thirteenth apostle.” And to be honest, by the time these concerns were raised, even certain denominations had invested far too much money in promoting the movies to retract, recall product and repent at that point. In the end, I believe financial concerns were more important than truth.
By the time The Shack came around, we had already been prepped through years of “felt need” theology, experiential-based faith and cherry-picking scriptures we liked while ignoring the ones we didn’t.
As the internet grew, I began to understand the power of the appeal to our emotions. More than once, I had seen almost an entire five to ten-minute video on some issue and found myself in tears before I found out at the end that not only was it not a Christian video and did not have a Christian message, but it was produced by people and represented a view that was unbiblical, new age and worse. I got emotionally hooked before I learned the truth. Those without a biblical foundation of truth just get hooked.
People loved The Shack because it replaced the God of the Bible (which deep down they possibly didn’t feel comfortable with, because His ways are beyond our understanding and bad things happen, and it upsets our sunshine version of Christianity) and gave them a God who made them feel good, who took the God of the Bible and said, “That’s not really God, this is what God is like…” and gave them a diluted, false version of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and a dose of Sophia, Greek goddess of wisdom.
I was sure that anyone with even a modicum of discernment would throw the book in the trash. I had underestimated how wide the door of deception had opened. I lost friends who were pastors who were furious at me for questioning the book. One pastor railed at me, “I haven’t had a relationship with God for years, but now I have my ‘Papa’ back! You can’t take that from me!”
Nothing jarred me more than seeing grown men of God just abandoning clear truth because something tugged their heart, justifying the scriptural butchering by saying, “It’s just fiction, it’s not the Bible!” I confronted someone on this the other night. “What about the satanic Necronomicon. Can I read it? It’s just fiction. Can I read pornography? It’s just fiction.” They thought that a bit extreme. Of course it was. My point was, where what was their criteria, where was their own event horizon they were not willing to cross because it was just too obviously wrong? How much scripture bending or ignoring would they accept and justify as ok because it was “just fiction” before they had enough and said no more? The demonic genius of The Shack is how cleverly it has clothed itself in a loose and nebulous garment of scriptures – just enough to justify the complete butchering of the true nature of God and morphing Him into a Trinitarian hybrid god that represents whatever will make you feel better about your horrible tragedies and “great sadness.” The fact is, though, God will not appear as whatever we want. One person said, “God appeared as a fiery bush, but I know he’s not a bush!” But He appeared in the bush. He wasn’t a bush. God will not appear as Shiva, Buddha, or Sarayu, because He is “I AM WHAT I AM.” We can say God is like a rock, but we cannot say God is like Baal. It’s not about imagery, it is about the nature and character of God. And The Shack gives a false representation of both of those.
Look, I get it. I’ve suffered innumerable losses my entire life, and every one of us at some point cries out, “WHY, GOD?” And in those moments, people either reject Him as uncaring, or He brings us into His Kingdom, and we learn to trust Him in the midst of, sometimes in spite of tragedies that seem to have no reason. And we may find ourselves once again crying out in pain, “WHY, GOD?” And His response is, “You don’t need to know all the answers. Trust Me, trust My Word. Trust in My love.” It’s called FAITH. But The Shack is a shortcut to feeling better, a panacea, a spiritual drug that allows you to embrace a conception of God that may temporarily take away the pain but leaves you with an open door to deception because it is not the God of the Word. IT IS NOT THE REAL JESUS.
Is The Shack the God portrayed in scripture? Is God a woman? Is Jesus a clumsy Jewish kid with a hook nose? Is the Holy Spirit a Japanese girl named after a Hindu river? Is the judge of our lives Sophia? Is everyone saved? Is Jesus just the best way to the Father, as the book suggests, or is He what the Bible says – the only way?
“But they’re just parables! Stories! It’s not the Bible!” some argue. So is it acceptable to distort the truth in the guise of fiction just to make a point? How is that ever acceptable? Someone said, “CS Lewis did The Chronicles of Narnia, they were spiritual allegories! It wasn’t scripture!” True, that; but unlike The Shack, when Lewis did touch on the nature of God or Jesus, he kept it fairly consistently in line with scripture and the biblical character and nature of God. The Shack has a radically different version of God: One who does not judge, one who can change, one who suggests Jesus is simply a better way to God, not the only way. But feeling trumped truth, and the book has become a multimillion bestseller. To simplify the responses I have heard, “Don’t confuse me with biblical facts. It made me feel good!”
It did not bother leaders and publishers that Young’s second book, Eve – a “reimagining” of the Adam and Eve story – was laced with kabbalistic themes and occultic, gnostic fairy tales. “It’s just a story.” The door opened wider….
You see, Satan keeps pushing the goalpost deeper and deeper into the center of the church, and every time he sees no resistance, he is emboldened and takes it to “the next level.”
Now, the movie is out. The arguments as to why it’s such an amazing life-changing story despite the clear unscriptural aspects that were brought up when the book came out are the same. The difference seems to be that those who support it are much angrier at those of us who pose the crucial questions. “You’re so judgmental! Who do you think you are? You must be looking for a book deal or something. You’ll never lead anyone to Christ, and I doubt if you ever did before.” I’ve had it all thrown at me the last few weeks as I tried to reason it out with folks on Facebook. And I realize that the level of deception had gone so deep that not only were people willing to embrace a lie and ignore the error, but worse – they saw themselves as fully biblical believers who were completely loyal to the Word of God, while at the same time promoting a story by a man who claims that everyone is “in Christ” already. And you cannot reason with that level of delusion. It seems to bother devoted Shack followers not at all that the author is a universalist.
Universalism, the “all paths lead to God” religion, is exactly what is needed to turn the Christian church into part of the one-world antichrist mystery religion that Alice Bailey wrote about and all Luciferian world leaders are counting on.
We did not accept Rob Bell’s universalism. But now we are willing to ignore William Paul Young’s. That is the malignancy of deception unchecked.
This movie comes at a time when the next level of eastern meditation techniques under the guise of “mindfulness” are being pushed into the educational system, and now are coming into the church. (Mindfulness is a Buddhist technique of detachment, leading to realizing the “divine within,” which eventually leads to Nirvana – nonexistence. There are several new “Christian” books promoting meditation and mindfulness practices with devotional books and coloring books, and a new book on spiritual formation and meditation called The Wired Soul: Finding Spiritual Balance in a Hyperconnected Age by Tricia McCary Rhodes which “reintroduces us to the classic disciplines of Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.” In other words, it’s just more repackaged eastern religious teaching and techniques for the church which will further it on the road to the new age goal of “east meets west,” where we all become one under a false one world religion and we all recognize the “Christ spirit” or godhood in each other (Namaste – the divine in me bows to the divine in you.)
Add to that, a new book is being used in Christian youth groups called, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God by Ken Shigematsu, who “draws on both eastern and western perspectives in writing and speaking.” Those are buzzwords for introducing a mixing of eastern religion thought processes with Christianity and bringing it into the church.
All of this is producing Christian minds that are malleable, soft, undiscerning, half-drugged, feeling good, and completely open to the power of suggestion from…whoever, and whatever. That is what eastern meditation techniques do. You empty your mind and accept that whatever comes must be good and right and from God.
The church has become an entity seeking to have their ears tickled. Seeking to feel better about their painful lives. Seeking to be successful, happy and prosperous. What is it you seek? Step right up folks…we’ve got it all now.
Everything except the whole truth of the Word of God, the way of the cross, the power of the blood to save and heal and forgive, the altar of God where we come to be broken and changed, healed and set free. Everything which made the Gospel powerful has and is being systematically removed by the enemy of our souls – not because it is not powerful, but because we no longer wish to bow to its demands, its holiness or its truth.
We are seeing the fruit of nearly thirty years of dumbing-down and de-prioritizing the Word of God, giving it a mini-place in our lives while shiny things and baubles and the newest “move” catch our attention and send us off on a fruitless quest for the next experience. The seed of the Word of God has corporately fallen on stony ground, without depth, where it grows up quick, shrivels and dies.
I know I am very passionate about this, reluctant to even use the word passionate, so overused it is. I have a right to be. I grew up in the occult, a world of delusions, lies, and darkness. Even when I tried to turn to new age thought to dispel the darkness, turning to Hinduism, Buddhism, and becoming an avid follower of Paramahansa Yogananda in my little bedroom devouring his every word as “truth,” I ended up deceived, wrecked and in utter darkness, even though some of it temporarily numbed my pain and made me “feel good.”
I understand many of these Christians who are so emotionally bound to The Shack that they have thrown caution to the wind and ignored the dangerous reality that it in fact promotes unbiblical lies and is being promoted by someone who has rejected Biblical truth about hell and salvation. I was one of those Christians after I was saved. I was totally brainwashed. I was a universalist. Then came this “mean man,” this “judgmental Christian” Bible study leader named Dave Malkin, who dared to get out the Word of God and without holding back challenged me about my beliefs. This “judgmental, mean man” saved my spiritual life. (I thank God for Dave, may his memory be blessed!) I needed a hard word to break through the lies.
In all my dealings with everything from Rob Bell to The Shack, I understand that simple logic and reason isn’t working with people who are emotionally invested in the teachers or the stories. People need a wake-up call, and that may not feel good or seem loving. But I cannot apologize for my approach because I see that in the end, The Shack is not just a book or a movie but a game-changer that is extinguishing some of the last lights of discernment out of the hearts of thousands of believers. I know how they feel. I have been there. And I thank God that someone cared enough to hurt me with the truth. When a house is burning down and people are asleep inside, one cannot afford to meekly whisper, hoping the people hear. You have to shout at the top of your lungs, “Get out, quickly!” In dealing with these new delusions, it may be necessary to jar people awake.
Jesus said in Matthew 24 that all of this would happen. Paul said, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”. (1 Tim. 4:1) The great falling away is at hand. But a remnant will remain faithful. I can only pray humbly not to be one who falls for the lies in a moment of vulnerability, or weakness, or pain or giving up, for we are all vulnerable. That is where I understand the motto of the French foreign legion that a friend shared with me. “If I falter, straighten me out. If I stumble, pick me up. If I retreat, shoot me.” Blunt, but as a spiritual warrior it resonates in my heart. None of us are exempt from having to diligently guard against the lies of this age, outside and inside the church.
I believe all these progressive deceptions over the last few decades have been just the build-up to the next great delusion, which could be the final one. God help us to turn away from the slow poisoning of the church through breath-prayers, eastern meditation, mindfulness, yoga, etc. God help us to surrender our soulish ways of perceiving God based on a book that was written by a wounded man, William Paul Young – unhealed from abuse and bitter church hurts – whom those seeking to make a profit have promoted regardless of his spiritual fragility and woundedness – who rejected the God of the Bible for a god who would somehow ease his pain – one that eases your pain as it kills your soul. The Shack is the spiritual Jack Kavorkian of our age.
Pray for William Paul Young, that God would pull him out of this most dangerous and deadly strange fire. Pray for the multitudes who are believing lies. And may God deal with those mercenaries and moneychangers who care more about what sells and profits them then about the care and protection of the flock of God.
Alice Bailey’s plans are about to come to full fruition. The greatest lie is just around the corner.
Stay strong, saints. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28) He is coming soon!