Month: November 2016

The World Race Parents Guide

A careful reading of this guide is necessary to discern exactly what Adventures in Missions values. The World Race parents guide is intended to for parents to understand exactly what the World Race is all about.    After reading it, we have two main concerns.  1.  The pure sweet Gospel of Christ is not at the heart of their “mission”.  2.  Intentional distancing of family and the faith “learned from childhood” (2 Tim 3) is   encouraged.
 Keep this verse in mind as you read on.
 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” Eph 4:4-7, 13-14
 
We are called to one, true faith and as we mature in that faith we should mature in our ability to discern these deceitful schemes of the devil.
As a caveat, we understand that it is good and necessary for young people to leave home, to get married, for a job, etc. It is biblical for a couple to leave and cleave and/or to separate financial responsibilities, etc.(Gen 2:24) However, this is very different than abandoning the family of your youth and discovering a “new” faith.
The parents’ guide offers this insight into what AIM’s schemes are:
 
PROCESS OF INITIATION
We practice radical discipleship, and this involves a process…Our young people
struggle with feelings of being illegitimate adults because there is no rite
of passage. The only option they feel they’re left with is rebellion that
leads to a tearing away from their parents. That tearing away may take
years to mend and heal. The World Race offers a healthy option in the
process of initiation.
It struck us that the initiation process intended to prepare young people for an 11 month missions trip neglects to mention Christ or winning souls to Him.  Missions is NOT about making legitimate adults and this self-centered focus is alarming.
Rebellion being the “only option” for young people denied a “right of passage” into adulthood is absurd. Parents, Seth is saying you fell short in raising your children and adequately preparing them for adulthood.
We expect Racers will go through the first three to four stages on the
World Race, and the final two to three as they return home and on into
their continuing life journey.
1) ABANDONMENT
Everything starts with a call to leave the old security and structure and lean into the challenge of moving into the unknown. They are asked to leave their homes, and the comfort of current close relationships… Their mission is the same as Abraham’s: “get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1).
Seth insists this “mission” is required.  Is he correct? It hardly seems necessary to note that this was a specific call to Abraham, through whom God would build a nation set apart to be His people.  His call does not apply to all believers.  There is no Scripture that commands this and Seth’s use of this passage as a proof text for his idea is a mishandling of Scripture. 
His entire premise, that this call of Abraham is the reason parents need to let their children go, is using a “descriptive” passage of the Old Testament to be a “prescriptive” command for our lives. 
Abraham was living in a pagan and idolatrous family  (Josh 24:2) when he was chosen by God to be the man through whom He would build the nation of Israel.  Through Abraham’s lineage God’s Son, Jesus Christ would ultimately come.  Clearly, this call was not one that applies to all of us.

 

We are called to leave the old pattern of worldly, sinful living when we come to Christ (2 Cor 5:17). This is the only calling that is true for all who will come to Christ in faith, and it does not mean we are all called to leave our family and the faith that is genuine. Rather, these are to be considered a blessing from the Lord to embrace not abandon. Nowhere in Scripture are children instructed to abandon the family and the faith taught by their parents.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:5-7
Each person needs to have a faith that is their own, having come in repentance to a merciful Savior, but they are called to embrace “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) taught by parents.  They are not to abandon that faith for “new” ideas offered in its place.
As Paul exhorts Timothy,  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ” 2 Tim 3:14-17
2) BROKENNESS
This moving from the old leads into a season of insecurity and questioning. They can no longer rely on someone else’s belief systems or experiences. In order to make their faith their own they must be willing to embark on a treacherous journey of faith toward God. It is a transition and, although scary and painful, it is absolutely necessary.
The transition from a childlike faith to a true saving faith does involve forgoing reliance on someone else’s personal faith and submission to Christ. But, parents encourage this by example and sharing the Gospel, teaching their children to acknowledge a personal recognition of sin. This is how each person will be adopted as children of God and justified before Him.  We will all stand before the Judge alone and we individually need to be wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness. The legacy of faith taught in Christian homes should be seen as invaluable to bring young adults to saving faith.
3) DEPENDENCE
Brokenness leads them to find faith molded out of their own experiences and creates a new dependence upon God. It’s a nerve-racking time to swing from one security net to the other. In the end, this new dependence and faith in God will serve them on the World Race and for the rest of their lives. They will find themselves saying yes when God calls them to things previous generations have been afraid to embrace.
Repentance leads them to faith. Where is Christ in any of this? Parents, he is mocking you as being afraid to embrace what he is going to offer your kids.
4) EMPOWERMENT
In this time of true dependency upon God something incredible begins to happen. God starts answering their prayers in ways they have never experienced before. He actually seems to challenge them to believe and ask for more; they begin to believe for and ultimately see the miraculous. Doing greater works talked about in John 14:12 becomes their goal…
The “greater works” does not mean greater in power.  It means greater in extent meaning we are fulfilling the Great Commission to share the Gospel to the world, (Christ’s earthly ministry was limited to Israel) making disciples empowered by a life submitted to Christ and filled by the Spirit.  It does not mean performing signs and wonders which can also be mimicked by Satan.
5) CALLING
While God is meeting them at the point of renewed faith they hear a whisper of God’s plan for their lives. Perhaps in this stage, they will sense God imparting a specific focus or calling. The goal of this time is to create an environment for God to speak about ministry. It’s a time of rediscovery that could lead them into areas that might be unexpected or even unrelated to their education. Much of this rediscovery is done near the end of the World Race and into their first several months home.
Still nothing of Christ or the Bible for that matter.
6) CONFIRMATION
The World Race is not an all-encompassing experience. After the conclusion of their journey, we begin to see clarity to the calling. We begin to see real-world applications. As they begin to lay out the plan they are sensing from God, there will be a confirming sense of God’s presence apparent to those around them. This continues to be a time of discovery, so we as a World Race staff are working on post-Race options that will give better direction to calling and confirmation.
Racers need to be fully released and fully empowered by the Lord. Scary? Yes, but we believe it is the most successful and healthy way to go through the process.
Why does Seth keep using the word scary? Maybe scary is not the right word…maybe it is unsettling and unnecessary.  Hence the feeling that there is something wrong here.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
One of the foundations of our discipleship model is that every Racer would break dependency on everything but the presence of God in their lives. The journey away from the familiar is imperative to this goal: they must journey away from the guidance of family, the security of friends, and the predictability of their everyday lives. They must learn to rely on their own pursuit of the things of God.Even if they’ve been taught good worldviews and theologies, they need to move beyond the spoon-feeding into new and deeper ways of thinking.
Even if they have been taught good theology?  Your faithful teaching of God’s Word to your child is termed spoon-feeding?  Seth is going to give your kids HIS newer, deeper way of thinking and it will not be the faith taught by our Lord Jesus and His apostles.
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT
Throughout the World Race, each participant will be expected to learn the discipline of listening prayer.If God truly speaks and gives us the ability to discern his voice, then a life of listening to the Spirit of God on all occasions and for every purpose is the best life possible. Everything we do is rooted in the lifestyle practice of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is a new concept to most of the Racers, but has life-changing results.
This is a perfect example of Seth conforming these kids to HIS theology.  For a man that does not exalt Christ anywhere in his writings, is he really the one you want teaching your kids how to hear the voice of God?  This is a mystical practice associated with Eastern religions and mystics.  It is not biblical.  Seth wrote the book they are expected to read.
Here is more information, “Centering prayer (listening prayer) is an unbiblical and dangerous practice.  It can put a person in an altered state of consciousness and open him up to a spiritual connection that is not in harmony with Scripture. Instead, we are to seek God in prayers that are non-repetitious, with a focus on God’s word and truth, with an active mind seeking to find the true and living God through the revelation of the Scripture and communion with his son Jesus. In short, avoid centering prayer and avoid whatever church promotes it.” 
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
We emphasize listening prayer. We believe God wants to communicate with us daily in a personal way. We ask, listen, and obey: asking God for guidance, listening for His response, and obeying Him to the best of our ability.
COMMUNICATION LET YOUR RACER GO
You’ve given your sons and daughters the best years of your life; you’ve been there and provided for them. Because of this, you may feel entitled to some things from them in return. Truthfully, one of the most helpful things you can do now is to give them the space they need to find their own identity and faith.
Their own faith?  There is only one.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed…” Jude 3
If you have brought your children up to fear the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to His gracious care as our Redeemer, this is NOT the faith that they will be taught from this organization.  They are asking you to release them to their teaching and to abandon the faith of their youth.  This is not biblical.  Please read the testimonies we’ve shared in other blog posts and also the other areas we have pointed out concern about the thoughts towards parents.
“The focus of the World Race must remain on making it the best discipleship experience we can for the Racers — including helping them step into their own identity as adults.”
Missions is not about making adults, it is about sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ. 
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

1 Cor 2:2

 

Cult Criticism-Conformity and Control

(Note the original title to Seth’s article in the hyperlink, he changed the post title from “a Ridiculous Criticism”)

In his blog post Seth Barnes writes,  “Have you ever been unfairly criticized? Once, because one of our mission teams went on a one-month media fast, the rumor circulated among some parents that AIM is a cult… Our objective at AIM is to thrust over-protected young people out into the world to formulate their own world view and collide with their destiny. It’s actually the opposite of what cults do as they seek conformity and control.”

The formulation of the young people’s worldview, however, is intentionally shaped in part by Seth’s own writings that are required or “highly suggested” reading. (We have shared concerns about other books recommended here)

Concerned Missionaries write, “one of the girls in the group (a World Race team) gave me a book written by Seth Barnes, the founder of AIM, called Kingdom Journeys, and I can see how it would appeal to young people, because it’s written in a very personal way, that meets their felt needs; I can see how they can relate to it and trust a guy that is so personable. But even though it talks about his own personal journey—there is no reference to his conversion. And when he uses Scripture—it’s like how Rick Warren does in his books, there is no Scripture reference, but a vague alluding to a Scripture verse—so someone can say, “I remember something about that in the Bible” but he seems to use it to validate his own position about something that he’s talking about, not explaining the meaning of the verse from a biblical perspective. The girls also had a book he wrote on listening prayer* they were supposed to go through daily…

Seth continues,

“Thinking about the criticism, I wanted to blog about it. But a staff member had a more prudent perspective, “It’s not worth your time,” he said. He was right; it’s a lesson I’ve been learning for a while now. In life if you’re going to ever do anything significant, then you’re going to have critics. The right thing to do is to honor them.”

Seth chose to dishonor parents, criticizing them for “ridiculous” rumors and ultimately deciding they were “not worth his time”.

He diffused the charge of leading a cult by deflecting the issue.

He goes on,”If you aspire to change the status quo, you’re going to have a target painted on your back; it’s the price of leadership. If you grow in your influence as a leader, the target just gets bigger.”

However, the ability to defend yourself against such a serious charge is also expected.

This is an interesting comment posted to this exact article…
“I know this is old news, but I was in the group that was subjected to the media fast. From within, the biggest problem was that it was forced upon us with no choice, it was during December, and it was only enforced because a smaller % of people on the trip were spending too much time connected to home that they were neglecting their duties/ job at hand.
My biggest issue with TWR and AIM overall is that questions regarding doctrine, practices, and overall “command structure” were mostly stifled and led to a “dismantling” of previous beliefs only to leave me trying to put the pieces back together after returning home.
In other words, many people involved didn’t practice what they preached, and I now have a sour taste for the organization. Sorry, but true.” (Seth responded to this comment with another deflection)
A media fast forced on them, with no choice?  That contradicts this statement in the FAQ’s responding the the question, “What if my parents have concerns?”, they respond, “This is your Race. You are an adult and we treat you that way.”
 

Note this testimonial from a former racer titled “I recently got out of what was basically a cult”.  Please be warned that the writer uses coarse language throughout.  However, her concerns are worth taking note.

“It starts before you even apply. The main form of communication about this trip is a site where participants post blogs from the field. It’s actually required to do so once per week. The people writing these have already bought into the romanticized ideas and skewed theology, but the organization really censors the blogs, and the ones that get promoted are the cool adventure stories. Training- A couple months before leaving, all participants go through ten days of training camp. I gained no practical knowledge here for life in the field. It was mostly just indoctrination. We lived in tents, used bucket showers, and sat through 8+ hours a day of them preaching a weird combination of bad theology and pop psychology at us. Not harmless stuff either. They preyed on the fact that most of the people there had partied their brain cells away in college. They convinced fairly normal, healthy people that they were in codependent relationships, had “soul ties” to ex-lovers, and needed to go through the organization’s prescribed method of cutting any ties that remotely resembled these things. They manipulated the faith of many participants to get them to end healthy relationships. … after hearing it day after day, it began to sink in, and made me doubt the healthiest relationship I had or have ever had in my life. They also made us participate in ridiculous physical challenges that would only be useful if Rambo was a missionary. These challenges served only to make everyone feel like “part of the club”. Despite all this and more, I still thought I could ignore their attempts at brainwashing and still do humanitarian work without drinking the Kool aid. I was wrong.”
“Cutting ties” with healthy relationships, indoctrination, manipulating faith.  Other testimonies we have shared sound much the same. 
This site has a list of some characteristics of a cult we thought were interesting.  Though they are not all true of AIM, many seem to line up with other testimonies we have shared.

How are they kept in the cult?

  1. Dependence
    1. People often want to stay because the cult meets their psychological, intellectual, and spiritual needs.
  2. Isolation
    1. Outside contacts are reduced and more and more of the life of the member is built around the cult.
    2. It then becomes very easy to control and shape the member.
  3. Cognitive Reconstruction (Brainwashing):
    1. Once the person is indoctrinated, their thinking processes are reconstructed to be consistent with the cult and to be submissive to its leaders.
    2. This facilitates control by the cult leader(s).
  4. Substitution

    1. The Cult and cult leaders often take the place of mother, father, priest, teacher, and healer.
    2. Often the member takes on the characteristics of a dependent child seeking to win the approval of the leader and or group.
  5. Indebtedness
    1. The member becomes indebted to the group emotionally, financially, etc.

More World Race testimonies

These testimonies were in the comments section in response to the article on this site We thought they were important to reiterate.

“I’m also a former World Racer and until I went on “mission” with AIM, I had never been exposed to Dominion or Kingdom Now theology. I’m a young believer, and yet I praise God for what sufficient bible literacy I had to discern as to when to apply the litmus test to some of the teachings: in other words, I would go read the bible in context. Practicing exegesis (reading the Scriptures in context) was a huge factor in me not compromising sound doctrine and seriously not losing faith.

Since everyone else so vehemently lauded AIM with great examples, so will I.

It lines up with exactly AIM claims and I quote from their website regarding their ministry distinctives: “We emphasize interdenominationalism.
The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing. We are tolerant of a variety of beliefs and practices within the mainstream of Christian practice. Where there is excess, we seek to be a force for moderation.”

So what would that look like?
A great example happened when a squad leader came out to “correct” and settle a dispute regarding the gift of prophesy. Blatantly, the person used 1 Corinthians 14:31 emphasizing that “ALL CAN PROPHESY.” We had become at odds concerning this because as part of the exploration process of activating our gifts where we were encouraged to write out everyone’s name on a piece of paper, fold it, put it in a container, pass it around blindly — upon each person selecting a piece of paper, without opening to reveal the name, we were to practice “listening prayer” and then formulate a response based on what we heard from the spirit.

After all, God knows everyone and can see the name on the piece of paper. Many eagerly, with full laughter, glee and excitement treated this as a game. Others, had a bit more reverence and strong convictions about how this resembled divination and sorcery. This “prophesy game” was now botched by lack of participation and those who did not want to partake were seen as bible-thumpers and judgmental. So correction had to come down on us. Force of moderation, I guess, is what took place. It felt more like bullying, and it was not theologically sound.

Subsequently, scripture was twisted to justify that we “all can prophesy” so not to be afraid of this sort of method of activating our gifts and to be more open-minded in how God wants to speak.

While it was stressed over and over and over again that we “needed to choose in to the process” or that we needed to “make this a safe place” and that there is “freedom here,” clearly there was not freedom to abstain or walk away without strife. It was a teaching being forced on us which contradicted God’s word.

Now we can look at this situation, which really did happen, in various ways:

1) we can absolve all of AIM and blame the one leader and chalk it up to them not knowing what they were teaching
2) we can recognize that this leader was also formerly a World Racer, a requirement to come back and lead a squad, and who was not alone but partnered up with another leader who was also a former World Racer — but there was no checks & balance evident that would indicate that any leadership disagreed with what was being taught
3) we can take into consideration that this is evident fruit of a ministry (AIM) being produced by the fact that this was not a one-time-incident but occurred repeatedly in this manner and tactic for over 5 months
4) if all of this was an honest misunderstanding, it makes no sense why leadership was always so bent on keeping these teaching-bloopers isolated and we were harshly warned not to infect the other squad members who were not present (this ended up creating factions and a huge dispute on Spirit vs Word based faith)

Needless to say, only those who continuously absorbed such teachings kept rising in rank and continued to enforce such teachings and practices.

So, by the 7th month, damage control and PR came into the picture at one of our debriefs where we were issued as a group an apology for how we had been treated by aforementioned leadership; the faith card was pulled with many tears being shed by these people from headquarters asking for our grace and forgiveness — and offering a free copy of “Kingdom Journeys” to everyone, as a gift.

Openly, we were invited to ask questions and this was said to be a “safe place” to share how we really felt, so I did. And I even referenced Luke 17:2. You can bet there was not much grace or any tears nor the feeling of being safe after I expressed severe concern regarding the teachings and theology. Instead, I was openly condemned as judgmental and told I was casting judgments which like a boomerang were going to come back and get me. How loving is that? This is from people up in HQ. Great diversion to not address the theology behind the process.

(However, when asked again in more private group conversation, there was absolutely no apology issued for the teachings or methods that were being promoted — we were simply told that our “process” had been disrupted.)

There was absolutely nothing biblical about their discipleship methods or “spiritual formation,” as they like to call it. I felt like I was stuck in an infomercial for Seth Barne’s book “Kingdom Journeys.” When I did go up the ladder to express my concerns for various other issues, and when I questioned certain aspects of the “process” or “spiritual formation,” I was told I made everything too theological and that this was unhealthy. I was then chastised for being unforgiving, bitter and judgmental. All I wanted to do was reasonably examine the Scriptures and get some answers I could understand that didn’t involve me being made to feel guilty for asking.

You can clearly read my blogs and see that I also had “great experiences” but I’m going to link the very last one and let you conclude for yourself whether or not that sounds like it was written by someone in an environment for healthy spiritual growth.

When all else failed, I made my situation known from a month-to-month perspective to my elders at my home church. Having an actual lifeline home and accountability proved to be wise! They quickly connected the dots, and fasted — they unanimously heard from the Lord to bring me home. Shortly after I left, so did many others. The funny thing is, of those that left, the majority of us are/have been/will continue to be missionaries.

I’m sure this post could open me up to some rotten tomatoes, for sure. I am very thankful for the sacred gift God gave me of preserving my faith for the duration of that mission, opening my eyes to a very clear and present danger of false prophets and teachers, the importance of not having wimpy theology and the need to bolster biblical literacy in this generation and for allowing me to witness salvation. To the praise of God, 4 of my World Race co-missionaries were saved (not re-dedicated), but born again, then baptized and you cannot put a price on that. Heaven rejoices. Those that most needed to hear the truth of the Gospel were amongst our own.

Here is another,

“As a former participant of the World Race, I happen to agree with what you have said and believe that AIM has some major flaws. During my time on the race, I had a lot of differences with AIM’s teachings. One of my squad mates sent me a copy of Claris’ article on AIM and it brought up almost every issue that I had with the organization. When I returned home I got in contact with Claris and we compared notes on the research she had done and the experience I had. One of the most troubling things was AIM’s connection to the New Apostolic Reformation and Kingdom Now theology. They also tend to treat the race as more of a spiritual journey than a real mission trip (or at least what most Christians would consider a mission trip). I would not recommend AIM or the World Race until they take a closer look at how their teachings line up with the Bible.

It is our responsibility as followers of Christ to offer correction to our brothers and sisters when we believe they are out of step with God.”

 

Christ’s Birth, Death and Resurrection…ignored

“Study Him in His pre-incarnate glory, before He took upon Himself your nature! Think of the mighty love that drew Him from His throne to die upon the cross! Admire Him as He conquers all the powers of hell! See Him risen, crowned, glorified! Bow before Him as the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Mighty God, for only in this way will your love for Him be what it should.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Why wouldn’t the leader and visionary of a “Christian” mission organization intentionally and joyfully write about the most important events we celebrate as Christians, Christ’s birth, death and resurrection? As Christ’s redeemed, we celebrate how Christ provided a way for us to be reconciled to God if we trust in His sacrifice for our sins to justify us through faith and repentance. 

Below is a list of the articles Seth Barnes, Executive Director of AIM,wrote the weeks of Easter and Christmas for the last few years.  Sometimes what is missing provides a strong argument from silence as to what someone believes or… doesn’t.

2016 Easter (3/27)5 Steps to Recovering from Broken Trust (3/24/2016)

There is nothing about Easter in this post.

2015 ChristmasMerry Christmas from My Family (12/22/2015)and Intentionality Day (12/26/2015)

Not one word about Christ’s birth.

2015 Easter (4/5)Resolving Conflict: How to Apply Matthew 18 (3/29/2015)

No word about Christ’s sacrifice or resurrection and a complete misinterpretation of Matt 18 using The Message bible.

2014 ChristmasMerry Christmas from the Barnes (12/24/2014)

“All of us are so thankful this Christmas season that Jesus came to earth and put on skin. Living in this world can seem overwhelming – it’s comforting to know that he knows how we feel.”

Missing the reason all together.

2014 Easter (4/20)Fighting a Terrorist on My Sister’s Flight (4/15/2014)

Nothing.

2013 Christmas Getting in the Christmas spirit (12/23/2013)

“It’s Christmas, a time to remember what Jesus accomplished by coming to earth as a baby. We talk about “getting in the Christmas spirit.” What exactly does that mean? The spirit of gift-giving? The spirit of spending time with family? …One of the best presents we can get this Christmas is to recover those parts of ourselves that others love most.”

That is the most he spoke of Christ…recover ourselves? What?

2013 Easter (3/31)University apologizes & reinstates student (3/26/2013)

Nothing

2012 ChristmasMerry Christmas! Here are some gifts for you (12/22/2012)

This is all about donating to Adventures, nothing about Christ 

Forgiveness as an act of self-love (12/26/2012)

Nothing about Christmas.

2012 Easter (4/8)We need a scapegoat (4/6/2012)

sounds promising…

” Every year, as described in Leviticus 16, they designated a certain goat to be the “scapegoat” that took on their shortcomings and inadequaciesEvery year your shortcomings pile up before you. How many people do you know carrying around their shortcomings like a big, overstuffed pack? Like my friend, they live in a shame-filled land and need a release – a scapegoat of some sort. On Good Friday, we inheritors of the Jewish tradition mark the transferring of our inadequacies to the ultimate scapegoat, Jesus Christ. It was a horrible and heroic act, an act predated by hundreds of years of Jewish practice. It’s a practice validated by modern psychology and our own experience. It buys us freedom. I can’t imagine living any other way but free. I’m so thankful that my scapegoat is not a product of artifice or my own victim status, but a construct thought up and executed by God himself so that I wouldn’t be separated from him.”

Did Christ suffer, die and take on the wrath of God for our inadequacies! What is his definition of “freedom”? “Validated by psychology”? “Inheritors of Jewish tradition”? Strange terms used. Let’s understand a better more Biblical explanation.

“God Himself imputes our sins to Him: “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”, “He made him to be sin.” And as the substitute for our guilt, bearing our sin upon His shoulders, represented by the cross, we see the great Scapegoat led away by the appointed officers of justice.

Beloved, can you feel assured that He carried your sin? As you look at the cross upon His shoulders, does it represent your sin? There is one way by which you can tell whether He carried your sin or not. Have you laid your hand upon His head, confessed your sin, and trusted in Him? Then your sin no longer lies on you; it has all been transferred by blessed imputation to Christ, and He bears it on His shoulder as a load heavier than the cross.

Do not allow this picture to disappear until you have rejoiced in your own deliverance and bowed in adoring wonder before the Redeemer upon whom your iniquities were laid.” source

2011 ChristmasChristmas & your dysfunctional family (12/22/2011)

Strategies to enjoy Christmas 

Loving broken people (12/24/2011)

Advice to share your struggles…nothing about Christ’s birth 

Barnes Christmas 2011 (12/26/2011)

Nothing

2011 Easter (4/24)Anthony is resurrected this Easter! (4/24/2011)

Scant mention of Christ, but much about the death of a young boy instead 

The cost of bringing freedom (4/22/2011)

nothing again

We have gone back 5 years so far…Years worth of avoiding Christ on our faith’s most precious celebrations and remembrances…  Why would that be?

“As a help to high thoughts of Christ, remember the estimation that Christ has beyond the skies, where things are measured by the right standard. 

Think how God esteems the Only Begotten, His unspeakable gift to us. 

Consider what the angels think of Him, as they count it their highest honor to veil their faces at His feet.

Consider what the blood-washed think of Him, as day without night they sing His well-deserved praises. 

High thoughts of Christ will enable us to act consistently in our relationship with Him.  The more loftily we see Christ enthroned, and the more lowly we are when bowing before the foot of the throne, the more truly shall we be prepared to act our part toward Him.” (Spurgeon)

 

update: Christmas 2016-while Seth finally mentions Christ and uses the word incarnation…there is still missing so much of the true reason to celebrate Christmas, much is mishandled.  

Seth says, “We love the Christmas season because of the incarnation. But when you’re born again, it’s Christmas wherever you go. Jesus puts you on like a glove and touches people. It’s the magic of incarnation all over again, the second coming of Christ.”

This is bordering on blasphemous…we are NOT in any way equal to the glory of the incarnation, nor are we to be called the second coming of Christ.  We are left here as humble servants to proclaim Christ as Lord until HE comes for His bride, the church.

The glory of the incarnation is that Christ laid aside His divine prerogative to humble Himself as a servant to sinful mankind, that any who would repent and trust in Him would be adopted as sons. 

Seth offers bits of truth, but never speaks of why Christ had to humble Himself as a baby and then die.  It is the MOST amazing act and he minimizes it to be about us again…

“And we’re his kids – the ones he’s coming for. If you’ve ever felt alone in life, this isn’t just good news, it’s unbelievably fantastic news. “

it is not about us, it is about HIM. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. ” 2 Cor 4:5

He says,”Maybe the Gospel would seem more like good news if we understood that God is a father who wants his family back.”

Seem like? It is AMAZING news! If we understand how wretched (Rom 3:12) we are before a Holy God, we understand how minimalist this statement is. “But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.”Isaiah 5:16

The Bible could not be clearer that we are loved and He does not wish any to perish, (2 Pet 3:9), however, Jesus makes clear that some will, “…I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5

God IS love, but God does not accept or chose everyone to be in His eternal family just because we are created in His image, sad and lonely.  This is a man-centered gospel, which means it is not the Gospel.  Let’s not forget what is said directly after John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21

Belief means more than intellectual assent.  It is a submission to Christ as Lord and a willingness to turn from sin and to Him as Savior. Seth is not proclaiming this Good News. 

Seth says, “Sometimes we can reduce Christianity to a “pray the prayer and go to church” religion. It’s so much more.”  We 100% agree with this statement!  We do not agree with what he concludes is “much more”. God is not in a panic, He has offered us a rescue plan and is patiently waiting for us to grab hold of it, there will be an end to His patience though. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” Heb 9:27.

We praise Him for the incarnation because it is the only way we could be offered eternal life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the World Race a Cult?

The similarities are concerning. We have addressed a few marks of a cult based on Seth’s response to cult criticism in another post, we have written other posts addressing pagan and mystical influence and also Seth’s thoughts on families and his “fatherly” role to begin to answer a few of the concerns mentioned in this post.

Let’s start with this blog post titled,Is the World Race a Cult?!? by a former racer asking and answering this question.

To this Racer, please consider what we have written.  It is for you and your fellow Racers that we have spent the time writing about our concerns.  We understand how subtle error can be and this fact should propel us to do our homework, carefully studying Scripture and comparing it with what is being taught.

Here is this Racer’s answer to the question posed in the title of his blog post.

“I SHOULD HAVE given more thought to the possibility of joining a potential cult, but the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension kind of took my mind off of it after a little bit of anxious prayer (Phil 4:6-7).  And when praying  about something like this for such a short time led me to drop the issue, I am pretty satisfied…It seems the cult hysteria comes down to 2 main issues: 1) “Abandoning” your family and 2) Mixing Eastern religion with the Gospel…

Following Jesus will make enemies within your own family.  (Matt 10:34-36).  If you are going on the World Race to obey the Great Commission and make disciples, then the cult hysteria is just a scheme of Satan to keep you back…”

While prayer is always advised, it is concerning that this Racer does not mention  searching the scriptures before making a decision.

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  He is brilliant and cunning, seeking to deceive the undiscerning.  Dismissing concerns as “cult hysteria” without careful evaluation is unwise.

He continues, “Eastern ReligionThis issue was a little more troubling for me, but I have reached a satisfactory answer for myself, but it might not satisfy all of you.  I haven’t done much research into Eastern Religion, nor have I deeply researched all the criticisms about contemplative prayer that are levied against AIM, nor have I deeply researched the resources that AIM recommends on the subject.  But here is my understanding of the contemplative prayer issue: if the answer conforms to the Word of God, why are you worried about it? …”

And if God “speaks” and it contradicts His Word, it’s OBVIOUSLY WRONG.”

That is honestly as far as I have delved into this issue…

Again, the lack of research is troubling.  Contemplative prayer is a mystical practice, not a Biblical one.  To affirm it as long as it doesn’t contradict scripture sounds correct, but without enough knowledge about where this practice has come from (Eastern religions) and a true understanding of how we are to pray based on Christ’s model we can be easily led into demonic practices and open to demonic voices disguising themselves as truth.

Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Here is a Biblical example of the demonic powers speaking truth and rebuked for it.

Acts 16:16-18 “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

 We cannot always assume that the truth spoken is from God, if the method is not from God, such as mystical practices, we are to shun them as from the enemy. 

God commanded Israel to tear down the high places and destroy every practice that had anything to do with false worship.  He did not say we should redeem it for His name, He said to shun and destroy it, then to worship the way He commanded.  He will not have His Holy Name associated with pagans.  Deut 12:4 “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.”

The Racer continues, “If in the ridiculously unlikely chance that AIM is a cult that doesn’t preach the true gospel, then I’m still going to preach the true gospel! “

Noble, if misguided. Unfortunately, this Racer does not actually address the issues of a cult. He provides  scripture verses but they are not addressing the actual concerns. The discussion is continued here.


 

A Different Gospel

Gal 1:6-9  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

Seth Barnes likes to use terms and teaching more closely associated with pop psychology than Biblical truth.  His recent posts are on the necessity of vulnerability. Unfortunately, vulnerability is not a biblical term.  The Bible uses terms such as meekness and humility, both of which indicate a recognition of our depravity and a proper posture before a holy God.  Neither is weakness, rather they are both power under control and indicate great strength of character.  Vulnerability on the other hand refers to a state of weakness and susceptibility to attack.  The terms are not synonymous.

A quick search of the NASB and ESV versions of scripture reveals that the word vulnerable is nowhere to be found. The one scripture that Seth used in his 3 part series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) is misinterpreted.  He did however use a TED talk and praise Ghandi, (a Hindu), Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King as great heroes of the faith. This is the subtly of a false teacher.

We are left to ponder what happens when we substitute pop-psychology terminology for Biblical terms?

 Taking excerpts from each of the three blog posts, let’s look at what Seth is teaching.

Seth says, “We have to harness the power of vulnerability. Vulnerability is the secret sauce that unlocks intimacy. It puts us in a posture to receive grace and to connect with others who need grace from us. Vulnerability sets the table for intimacy.

The Scripture says, a humble recognition of our wicked heart before a Holy God puts us in a posture to receive grace. James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  

Seth continues, “Jesus’ began his public ministry by declaring it was not the religious, but the vulnerable who would receive his ministry. Quoting Isaiah 61, he said he would bring hope to the “poor, the blind, the prisoner, and the oppressed.” (Luke 4) Preaching on the mountainside, he elaborated on the theme. It’s the “discouraged, the sorrowful, the hungry, the hated and rejected” who are candidates for grace. (Luke 6:20-22)…

Christ never used the word vulnerable.  Matthew Henry’s commentary says that the poor are those who are meek and humble, truly sorry for their sin.  The captives are those that Christ will loose from bonds of guilt.  The blind are those he frees from the darkness of sin. These are all metaphors for sinners, not people being vulnerable to show their weaknesses.  Why doesn’t Seth talk about sin?  He is teaching a different gospel.

It is not the “vulnerable” but the spiritually destitute who, like Isaiah, recognize they are unworthy to stand before a Holy God because of their sin. Isaiah 6:5 “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”  Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“You will never be able to understand God’s remedy for this world if you don’t understand the malady under which this world lives and functions.  [Gen 3] may well be the most important chapter in the Bible because it explains absolutely everything about our universe and about life in that universe and all of us who live in it.  It explains everything about why things are the way they are, why we are the way we are, and what God is doing in history, and why He’s doing it in terms of salvation.  Genesis 3 explains the human dilemma.  All the problems of the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account.  I’ll say that again: all the problems in the universe.  Physical problems, spiritual problems, moral problems, social problems, economic problems, political problems, all the problems in the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account.

[Gen 3] then is the foundation of any true and accurate world view.  And without this foundation, every and any world view is utterly wrong.  If you do not understand the origin of sin and its impact based on Genesis chapter 3, then your understanding of the world is wrong.  Everything then is misunderstood.  Everything is misevaluated.  Everything is misread.  Everything is misdiagnosed and hopelessly incurable.” source

 Seth goes on,“[Christian] Leaders need to regularly touch the humanity of those who follow them. They need to lead with weakness….This is one reason that AA groups are better church than most churches.”

In his blog posts we have repeatedly seen Seth Barnes speak negatively of the church.  If Christ is head of the church then we need to recognize the true church’s value for saving lost souls through the faithful preaching of the true Gospel.  This is not what Seth is offering.

More from Seth, this is what he offers those under his leadership in place of Biblical truth, “Brene Brown is all the rage at Adventures. Her TED talk on vulnerability went viral… and it sure hit a responsive chord with us. Why? Because it was a paradigm-shaker and we’ve seen its power.”

The above is a TED talk from a secular perspective.  We would hope that the leader of a missions organization would rely primarily on Scripture to offer us wisdom.  Rom 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  The GOSPEL is where the power lies.

Seth says, “We screen World Race candidates for a willingness to take a risk in order to grow. We only take one out of every seven people who begin an application with the World Race. Jesus screened his disciples this way and he screened those listening to his message as well. Speaking to the fit between his message and his listeners he said, “Don’t throw pearls before swine.” He had high standards for his disciples.”

No, Jesus took tax collectors and fisherman.  He took sinners. The “fit between his message and his listeners”?? That is nonsense.

Looking at Seth’s Scripture reference, he is completely missing the point.  Matt 7:6 says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”  Again from Matthew Henry on this verse, “As a rule to the disciples in preaching the gospel; not that they must not preach it to any one who were wicked and profane (Christ himself preached to publicans and sinners), but the reference is to such as they found obstinate after the gospel was preached to them, such as blasphemed it, and persecuted the preachers of it; let them not spend much time among such, for it would be lost labor, but let them turn to others”

This verse is about respecting what is holy, not about “standards” for disciples. Ironically, Christ is speaking of those such as Seth Barnes who blaspheme His Holy name by mangling His Word obstinately refusing to acknowledge their sin and the sacrifice Christ offered to redeem us.

Seth continues, But it doesn’t get us to God’s best in today’s world. These days, we need more. We need to embrace vulnerability….This is part of the good news that Jesus preached. His path of vulnerability may be a narrow one, but it is the path leading to abundant life. It may be rare, but it is powerful. It is the power that our heroes have tapped into. Think of Gandhi and Mandela, and King. They all projected power from a place of weakness…There is a great reservoir of grace awaiting those of you who will risk trusting your brothers and sisters with your secrets… 

Let’s look at that Scripture, Matt 7:14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Salvation is by grace alone, through repentance, faith and submission to Him. It is not easy and Jesus is the only way to pass through. It is the path to ETERNAL life. Vulnerability has nothing to do with it.  Where does it say we receive grace by trusting others with our secrets?  This is clearly erroneous.  Again, it is a different gospel.

Speaking of a “revival” Seth was a part of, “And when the tide of vulnerability that had unleashed such waves of revival at last began to ebb, there seemed to be a sacred residue in the room – a sprinkling of spiritual stardust that left us reluctant to speak, knowing that any words about life beyond those walls would be banal and fall flat.”

Spiritual stardust…?

There was nothing about the true Gospel in any of the 3 posts. NOTHING! The words, sin, repentance, cross, Christ, redemption were all missing.  There was nothing but an incorrect view of grace and a different Gospel.

Please take time to think about what Seth is teaching.  He uses non-biblical terminology, misinterprets Scripture, and is leading those who follow him down the wide path toward destruction.

1 Cor 2:14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

 

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