Monday, September 7, 2015

A "Wonderful" Deception by Warren B. Smith

A A "Wonderful" Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Driven Movement by Warren B. Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earlier this year I read the book Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith exposing problems with Rick Warren and his Purpose-Driven movement. This book (A "Wonderful" Deception) is a continuation of that one by further showing the huge influence that Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale (both heavily influenced by New Age leaders) have had on Rick Warren and his ministry. Grace to You has been posting a blog series on some of the differences between Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life book and John MacArthur's book Slave. You can check out the first post in that series here.

It is troubling to see how much Schuller's ministry has influenced Rick Warren. Robert Schuller himself was very sympathetic to New Age leaders and even held the New Age class A Course in Miracles at the Crystal Cathedral for a time before concerns were raised and it was stopped. In this sequel Smith goes on to document the various New Age influences that have impacted Rick Warren and how many of his associates are also New Age sympathizers. In a 1995 series Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren talk about the "New Spirituality" in a series called The Tides of Change. This "New Spirituality" is actually the New Age Spirituality. In this book A "Wonderful" Deception Warren Smith presents quite a bit of information on Leonard Sweet's New Age leanings. Yet Rick Warren co-led workshops with Sweet in 2008.  Several New Age leaders have been quoted as praising Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller as great "Christian" leaders. In this book Smith documents the many connections between Schuller, Peale and now Warren.

While this book is quite troubling to see how widespread the New Age has come into the evangelical church, it is a needed wake-up call for the Christian. Rick Warren's gospel is a watered-down version of the true gospel and as such is a different gospel. His P.E.A.C.E. plan (God's Dream) is uniting with the New Age/New Spirituality PEACE Plan to help establish God's kingdom on earth. From A "Wonderful" Deception it says, "We are told that humanity will only survive and have a 'positive future' if we recognize and play our part - as 'God' - in this interconnected quantum 'Field of Dreams.' Rick Warren says 'if you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission.' In other words - 'if you build it, he will come.' New Age matriarch Alice Bailey said, 'His coming depends upon our work.' This sounds like Warren's P.E.A.C.E. Plan. And this sounds like Neale Donald Walsch's New Age PEACE Plan. As discussed at length in False Christ Coming and Deceived on Purpose, this is also the Peace Plan of the false Christ Maitreya-the New Age 'Christ' who claims to already be here on earth waiting to be called forth..."

I would recommend reading both Deceived on Purpose and A "Wonderful" Deception to understand better the influence that the New Age has had on Schuller and thus also Rick Warren. It's hard to even explain the mountain of information that is presented in A "Wonderful" Deception in who Rick Warren associates and collaborates with that is also connected to the New Age. This book is easy to read and is quite eye-opening as well. The author is a Christian who came out of the New Age and is very familiar with the key terms and phrases used, as well as who the key players are. He uses his previous experience and knowledge to warn us about Rick Warren. Again, I recommend reading this to see how the New Age has become a part of evangelicalism through leaders like Robert Schuller and Rick Warren.

*I received a copy of this book free from Lighthouse Trails Research in exchange for my review.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

With the Master Before the Mirror of God's Word by Susan Heck

With the Master Before the Mirror of God's Word: A Ladies' Bible Study on First JohnWith the Master Before the Mirror of God's Word: A Ladies' Bible Study on First John by Susan J. Heck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have heard wonderful things about Susan Heck's Bible study so was eager to dive into this study of hers for ladies on the book of 1 John. And I was not disappointed! Susan dives right into the text of Scripture and explains it in an easy-to-read manner yet still plumbing the rich depths that is God's Word. Each chapter has study questions at the end, often with many cross-references to search other Scriptures that go along with the verse studies in that particular chapter. In many ways this study is a commentary on the book of 1 John.

This is not a book that you can just sit down and casually read through. It needs to be digested and pondered. While it is easy to read and understand, it is also "meaty" and needs to be thought through in order to gain the most benefit. I would highly recommend this for a ladies' study that wants to dig deeper into God's Word. Once having done one of Susan Heck's studies, you will want to do her other ones. I am looking forward to the study on Ephesians that she will be publishing soon.

Susan starts out with the background of the book before diving into the text itself. This is an important part of Bible study to better understand what the author is communicating. I appreciated her careful detail and methodical approach. I'm looking forward to doing other studies by Susan and hope to be able to use this in a future ladies study.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Focus Publishing in exchange for my review.

Friday, August 28, 2015

God's Kingdom through God's Covenants by Gentry and Wellum

God's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical TheologyGod's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology by Peter J. Gentry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have the book Kingdom through Covenant by these authors but have not read it yet (after all, it is over 800 pages). So when I saw this book was coming out, I wondered if perhaps this was a revised version. It is an abridged version of the larger work, with a lot of the technical discussion edited out and designed to be more accessible for the layperson to read and understand. It is easy to read.
However, for some reason, it just wasn't grabbing me at this time. I do think I want to continue reading it, but now may not be the right time to do so. Sometimes books have to be put off and tried again at a later date in order to better appreciate them. So for now, I'm shelving this one to try again later.
For those interested in this subject, it is an easy to read book (and much less daunting at around 300 pages). So I would recommend giving it a try if you want to explore the theology of the covenants.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Introducing Solid Food Ministries

While I still plan to post book reviews on this blog, I have shifted my focus somewhat to a ministry that's been a desire of mine for a long time. Now that I have more time to devote to it, I have started a blog and Twitter account, and am more active on its Facebook page. What is this ministry, you ask? :-)

Solid Food Ministries is a ministry to provide sound biblical resources (solid food) for the growing and mature believer. It is based on Hebrews 5:12-14 which says in ESV, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." So the goal is to provide resources and to encourage believers to grow in their faith from milk to meat.

Check it out!

The Blog

Facebook Page

Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Over the last year or so God has been really teaching me regarding His holiness and how I view sin. With the study of Moses and the Israelites, reading through Leviticus and Numbers, God's holiness is prominent throughout these books. Then a ladies group I'm in read through Jerry Bridges' The Pursuit of Holiness together. Quite the convicting book! We don't often think about how horribly awful our sin is to a holy God. One of the areas that God has been showing me is in the area of television and movies. Sexual innuendo is rampant throughout most TV shows these days. And celebration of sex outside of marriage is commonplace. These are not okay to a holy God. Jesus died a horrible death to pay for these sins that we casually watch on our TV screens. I have found that I no longer have interest in most movies or TV shows now as they portray sin as a normal part of life and even celebrate it.
The battle to be holy is constant and relentless, particularly in the world we live in. Guarding our minds is a challenge. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about the following things: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." In the battle for holiness, this is a good reminder. What we read, what we watch, the things that we dwell on - are these things that are helping us to be more holy? If not, shouldn't we eliminate them from our lives?

Some quotes to consider from the book Holiness by J.C. Ryle:
"It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God saying, 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord' (Heb. 12:14)."

"Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul who can think of all that Jesus suffered, and yet cling to those sins for which that suffering was undergone."

"He sees his own many sins, his weak heart, a tempting world, a busy devil; and if he looked only at them, he might well despair. But he sees also a mighty Savior, an interceding Savior, a sympathizing Savior - His blood, His righteousness, His everlasting priesthood - and he believes that all this is his own. He sees Jesus and casts his whole weight on Him."

"If any reader of this message really feels that he has counted the cost and taken up the cross, I bid him persevere and press on. I dare say you often feel your heart faint and are sorely tempted to give up in despair. Your enemies seem so many, your besetting sins so strong, your friends so few, the way so steep and narrow, you hardly know what to do. But still I say, persevere and press on."

"The nearer he draws to God and the more he sees of God's holiness and perfections, the more thoroughly is he sensible of his own countless imperfections."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review of Precepts study - Hebrews, Part 1

I have wanted to do a Precept study for years. I've done the Kay Arthur inductive study guides and enjoyed them but longed to dig deeper and do an actual Precept study. It just never worked out to be part of one. Earlier this year when I knew I would not be doing Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in the Fall, I was eager to finally join a Precept study at a church a few miles from our home. However, they were going to be doing part 2 of Hebrews. So I decided to do part 1 on my own over the summer so I wouldn't be lost. As I did the study over the summer, I came to the realization that I would not be able to keep up with the Precept study in the fall, as I would be leading a ladies' study on Wed. mornings and for 6 weeks be also teaching a Sunday School class (not to mention a 2 weeks missions trip). At that point, I decided to continue doing the study even though I wouldn't be able to continue with it in the fall.
Starting off, I absolutely LOVED the Precept study of Hebrews. The first few weeks involve reading through the whole book of Hebrews several times. This is how Bible study should be! Immersing yourself in the book, getting the full context. But as the study progressed and started digging into the individual chapters, there began to be a lot of cross-referencing. Now cross-referencing is important while studying the Bible; it's important to compare Scripture with Scripture. But this seemed to be excessive and unnecessary. I finally began skipping some of the cross-referencing, feeling like it was taking away from the Hebrews passage rather than adding to it. As I neared the end of the study, I also noticed that it seemed like the cross-references were being used to push a particular meaning on the passage and to try to steer the studier towards a particular interpretation, rather than letting the text speak for itself. That is a problem with study guides, the theology of the writer can bleed through and affect the person studying.
I wouldn't necessarily not recommend a Precept study at this point, but I'm not eager to do another one. I would caution when doing one to be mindful of an agenda or particular interpretation being pushed on the passage. It's important to know how to study the Bible for oneself so one isn't dependent on others or on study guides to study the Bible. For a brief overview of the inductive study method, here is a series of posts on How to Study the Bible.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Living in the Now

My life is pretty good. I have a wonderful husband, a great home, a cute kitty and many other wonderful blessings. Yet sometimes I still struggle with being discontent. I think this is partly due to the fact that this world is not my home. I was made for more. My heart longs for heaven and perfection. But while I am still on this earth, as a Christian, I'm called to be content with where I'm at. It is the tension of living between the now and the not-yet of my future home.