About Marsha West

Marsha West is the general editor of Christian Research Network.

IHOP-KC’s Mike Bickle: Powerful evangelist for contemplative prayer

John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire offers many reasons Bible believing Christians should not practice contemplative prayer or have any involvement in Christian mysticism which has its roots in Roman Catholicism, as you will see.

According to International House of Prayer founder Mike Bickle, “God is calling everyone. Everyone in the Body of Christ is called to live in the contemplative lifestyle—everyone.’”

Is Bickle’s promotion of contemplative prayer a problem? Very much so.

Ray Yungen, author of A Time of Departing, warns, “Contemplative prayer is presenting a way to God identical with all the world’s mystical traditions. Christians are haplessly lulled into it by the emphasis on seeking the Kingdom of God and greater piety, yet the apostle Paul described the church’s end-times apostasy in the context of a mystical seduction. If this practice doesn’t fit that description, I don’t know what does.”

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See CRN’s research paper on Contemplative Prayer

“Get ’Em Young”: Evolutionists Praise New Book Teaching Children About Their “Grandmother Fish”

According to Christian News Network:

An evolution-promoting author has released an illustrated children’s book, titled “Grandmother Fish,” that uses whimsical text and drawings to convince preschoolers that they are the products of evolution and the descendants of animals.

“Grandmother Fish: a child’s first book of Evolution” is a 40-page children’s book written by Jonathan Tweet. The book begins by introducing its readers to a fish from whom all humans supposedly descended.

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Teenager Arrested in Murder of Indiana Pastor’s Wife Amanda Blackburn

Christian News Network reports:

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Gang and Violent Crime Unit, along with U.S. marshals, arrested a teenager on Monday in the death of Indiana pastor’s wife Amanda Blackburn.

The suspect has been identified as 18-year-old Larry Taylor of Indianapolis, who neighbors state they saw in the area the morning that Blackburn was killed. Detectives believe that Taylor, who sought to burglarize the home, observed Pastor Davey Blackburn leaving the residence to go to the gym. He then entered the front door, which had been left onlocked as Amanda Blackburn waited for her husband to return home.

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Wesley Seminary Students Commemorate “Transgender Day of Remembrance”

Transgender symbolH/T to Glenn Chatfield over at The Watchman’s Bagpipes blog for this one. This piece contains unbridled blasphemy that will raise the blood pressure of Bible believing Christians. Jeffrey Walton of Juicy Ecumenism reports that “During the communion liturgy, Wesley [Theological Seminary] Professor and Episcopal Priest Sathianathan Clarke proclaimed: ‘It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, O Father and Mother, creator of all things old, new and in transition.’”

“In transition” refers to transgender people who have convinced themselves that God made a mistake when He made them male and female. Sadly, these people have the ridiculous idea that male-to-female transsexuals are actually females trapped in male bodies, and vise versa.

So, let’s begin at the beginning of what Chatfield refers to as “blasphemy of great proportions”:

Students at United Methodist-affiliated Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC gathered Thursday for a special service to commemorate the lives of persons who identify as transgender.

The noontime “Transgender Day of Remembrance” service held November 19 at Wesley’s Oxnam chapel was sponsored by Of Sacred Worth, a student organization established to promote understanding of LGBTQ people in the church.

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Are unrepentant sinners worthy to be baptized?

Berean Research has the story of a transgender Lutheran who is about to be ordained. Be sure to watch the video:

Transgender Lutheran

She says she is “worthy” and “deserving.”

She’s a he. He’s transgendered (calls himself She). He’s about to be ordained in the “Lutheran” “Church” (both in bunny ears) He says he is worthy and deserving to be baptized, and worthy of the promises of God. Unfortunately, God promises wrath to those who do not repent of their sin and believe on Jesus, who washes all sin clean by His shed blood.

The Reformation Project’s Matthew Vines is sharing this man’s testimony and speech from the RP’s recent Kansas City conference: Nicole Garcia lit up the room with a fiery, heartfelt, and theologically grounded keynote address on our opening night,” says Vines, who launched a campaign to get all churches (especially the theologically grounded ones) to stop calling homosexuality a sin and to embrace gay members and gay marriage. (See our White Paper on the Homosexual Agenda.)

Here is a snippet of the speech, which you can watch on YouTube in its entirety:

Is it any wonder that I identify with this story? A person of color. A person who is not of the dominant culture. A person who does not fit into the gender binary systems. I really see the world through the eyes of the Ethiopian eunuch. For I, too, believe that Christ Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead in order that I may have eternal life in his kingdom—that I am worthy of baptism, I am worthy of the promises of God. I have been recreated, justified, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Republished with permission (Source)

Tenured California professor says study labeling “homophobia” a disease is “garbage”

According to Christian Examiner:

An Italian research group of social psychologists recently published a paper in The Journal of Sexual Medicine claiming “homophobia” is a disease and homophobic attitudes are strong indicators of mental disorders.

“Garbage,” says Robert Oscar Lopez, a professor at California State University-Northridge.

Lopez, reportedly a member of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and frequent writer in conservative publications, explained the study was done mostly by homosexuals and their supporters in the social psychology field, an academic discipline notably lacking in social conservatives.

“It’s almost impossible for the research teams to critique their own methodologies or to improve or to see their own biases.”

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SICK! ABC’s “Scandal” Sets Main Character’s Abortion to “Silent Night”

News Busters reports:

ABC’s Scandal just crossed a sickening line in the episode “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The entire hour was an advertisement for Planned Parenthood, but the absolute worst scene was a montage set to the Christmas hymn “Silent Night,” a song that celebrates the birth of Christ, while main character Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) has an abortion, killing her and the president’s baby. Between the execution of a man that opens the graphic clip below, the talk of “soft tissue,” saying family destroys you, watching a doctor take his instruments between Olivia’s legs, and the hint of a smile on her lips at the end, it is a truly vile scene, stomach churning scene.

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Our Church, Our Children and the “Sinner’s Prayer”

Children prayingAmy Spreeman of Berean Research shares a letter she received from a mom who learned that, while she attended a Bible study, the children’s leaders were “cheerfully working to coerce the children into praying the Sinner’s Prayer.” But is reciting a prayer out loud or in our heads even biblical? Some say yes, others say no. Amy believes “it is biblical to pray to Jesus to ask Him to forgive us our sins. But without true repentance, there can be no regeneration.” Thus, “it is not biblical to say someone is saved ‘because of reciting the Sinner’s Prayer.’ We must put our trust, hope, and faith in Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, but to give someone assurance of salvation based on reciting a prayer, or thinking the words in our heads as someone else says them, does not produce saving faith.”

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Evangelical Grand Canyon University to Grant Employee Benefits to Homosexual Staff

According to Christian News Network:

Arizon’s Grand Canyon University has announced that it has decided to grant employee benefits to homosexual staff while reiterating its belief that marriage can only be defined as the union of one man man and one woman.

The university says that it made the change as federal and state governments “have recently changed their long-held definition of marriage and now recognize same-sex marriage as lawful.”

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Islamic Jihadists Kill Three at Mali Hotel, Freeing Those Who Could Recite from Koran

Daily Mail reports:

Armed jihadists have killed at least three people in a deadly shooting rampage and taken 170 hostages at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali.

Automatic weapons fire has been heard on the seventh floor of the 190-room hotel, where it is thought as many as 10 militants have been going floor to floor and taken 140 guests and 30 members of staff hostage.

Witnesses described how the gunmen allowed around 20 hostages to leave safely after they proved they were able to recite verses of the Koran to the militants. US and French Special Forces have reportedly stormed the hotel and have began to clear the building one floor at a time.

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Suspected mastermind behind Paris attacks killed

Fox News reports:

The man suspected of ringleading last Friday’s Paris attacks that killed 129 people, who bragged that he could always stay one step ahead of Western intelligence, was killed in the police raid north of Paris Wednesday. Officials also confirmed that his cousin was killed, when she apparently blew herself up.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, also had been linked to as many as four thwarted attacks since this spring, including the plot to kill passengers on a Paris-bound high-speed train in August, a plot that three young Americans helped foil. He was identified from skin samples after the Saint-Denis raid, the French prosecutor’s office reported Thursday.

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Confirmed: 8 Syrians caught at Texas border in Laredo

Breitbart reports:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed that eight Syrians were taken into custody at the Laredo port of entry.

Two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are claiming that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector. The federal agents spoke with Breitbart Texas on the condition of anonymity, however, a local president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) confirmed that Laredo Border Patrol agents have been officially contacting the organization with concerns over reports from other federal agents about Syrians illegally entering the country in the Laredo Sector. The reports have caused a stir among the sector’s Border Patrol agents.

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Planned Parenthood to Spend $20 Million to Elect Pro-Abortion Hillary Clinton, Take Over Congress

Life News reports:

The Planned Parenthood abortion business announced today that it plans to spend $20 million to elect pro-abortion Hillary Clinton president and take over Congress. This comes after the abortion giant has been caught up in a massive scandal involving its sales of aborted babies and their body parts.

“Extremists made the 2016 election about attacking reproductive rights,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards says in a new promotional video to abortion activists.

“Enough is enough,” Richards said in the video. “With our supporters, we’re launching ‘I Vote Planned Parenthood Action.’ We’ll organize and mobilize to elect lawmakers who are in our corner.”

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Outraged husband of 9/11 hero returns “Woman of the Year” award over Jenner

According to Christian Examiner:

Bruce-Caitlyn Jenner James Smith, widower of Moira Smith, a police officer who died rescuing others from the south tower during the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Centers, FedExed his wife’s Woman of the Year award back to Glamour magazine.

He was outraged the award this year was given to Bruce Jenner, who changed his name to Caitlyn after having sex-change operations earlier this year.

Smith said giving the award to Jenner insulted his wife’s memory.

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French Police Carry Out Intense Pre-Dawn Raid to Locate Mastermind Behind Paris Attacks

Christian News Network reports:

A female suicide bomber blew herself up on Tuesday as French police conducted a pre-dawn raid on an apartment building in an operation to locate the mastermind associated with Friday’s massacre in Paris.

Police closed in on an apartment building in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, and according to reports, a woman detonated a suicide vest after confronting authorities. Residents report hearing gunfire and explosions at 4:30 and 7:30 a.m. local time.

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ISIS Genocide Victims Do Not Include Christians, the State Department Is Poised to Rule

According to National Review:

A report by a renowned journalist states that Christians are to be excluded from an impending official United States government declaration of ISIS genocide. If true, it would reflect a familiar pattern within the administration of a politically correct bias that views Christians — even non-Western congregations such as those in Iraq and Syria — never as victims but always as Inquisition-style oppressors. (That a State Department genocide designation for ISIS may be imminent was acknowledged last week in congressional testimony, by Ambassador Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of the State Department’s Near East Bureau.)

Yazidis, according to the story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, are going to be officially recognized as genocide victims, and rightly so. Yet Christians, who are also among the most vulnerable religious minority groups that have been deliberately and mercilessly targeted for eradication by ISIS, are not. This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.

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Southern Baptist Convention president to speak at IHOP-KC’s “Onething” gathering?

John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire reports:

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd will be speaking in December at Onething, the International House of Prayer’s annual celebration/convention. So will Francis Chan–for the second time. Onething takes place December 28-31, 2015.

Catholic Matt Maher will be one of the worship leaders. The IHOP Onething Worship and Leaders page notes that Maher played at the World Meeting of Families, which marked “Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. this year.”

Ronnie Floyd’s appearance at Onething potentially opens some Southern Baptist members to IHOP-KC influence. How many SBC members will be watching Onething online because Floyd will be speaking there? As noted in Francis Chan as IHOP-KC’s public relations agent?, Chan’s 2013 participation in Onething was a public relations bonanza for IHOP-KC.

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10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling

Popular blogger and pastor Tim Challies has once again addressed Jesus Calling, the blockbuster book that contains “devotions for every day of the year.” Author Sarah Young claims direct divine revelations. Tim wrote a review (here) in 2011 and now lays out 10 significant problems with the hugely popular devotional.

Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling is a phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. According to publisher Thomas Nelson, it “continues to grow in units sold each year since it was released [and] has surpassed 15 million copies sold.” Nelson is involved in an expansive new marketing campaign that involves a new web site and daily radio devotionals. ECPA reports that “Thomas Nelson began its partnership with the Salem Media group to provide 60-second daily messages on Eric Metaxas’ show, which is carried on more than 100 stations nationwide and worldwide on SiriusXM Radio. The Jesus Calling radio devotional reaches more than 500,000 people each day through these segments.” With 15 million copies sold, it has marched its way into rare company.

Yet it is a deeply troubling book. I am going to point out 10 serious problems with Jesus Calling in the hope that you will consider and heed these warnings.

1. She speaks for God. Far and away the most troubling aspect of the book is its very premise—that Sarah Young hears from Jesus and then dutifully brings his messages to her readers. Jesus Calling makes the boldest, gutsiest, and, to my mind, most arrogant claim of any book ever to be considered Christian. The publisher describes the book in this way: “After many years of writing her own words in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to be more attentive to the Savior’s voice and begin listening for what He was saying. So with pen in hand, she embarked on a journey that forever changed her—and many others around the world. In these powerful pages are the words and Scriptures Jesus lovingly laid on her heart. Words of reassurance, comfort, and hope. Words that have made her increasingly aware of His presence and allowed her to enjoy His peace (italics mine).” There is no way to avoid her claim that she is communicating divine revelation, a claim that raises a host of questions and concerns, not the least of which is the doctrine of Scripture alone which assures us that the Bible and the Bible alone is sufficient to guide us in all matters of faith and practice.

2. She proclaims the insufficiency of the Bible. Jesus Calling only exists because Sarah Young had a deep desire to hear from God outside of the Bible. In the introduction she describes the book’s genesis: “I began to wonder if I … could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.” In those few sentences she sets up unnecessary competition between her revelation and what we are told of the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “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.” Biblically, there is no category for what she provides as the heart and soul of her book. Biblically, there is no need for it and no reason we should expect or heed it.

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“Eagles of Death Metal” Was Playing “Kiss the Devil” at Moment Terrorists Stormed Theater

According to Christian News Network:

The California-based band Eagles of Death Metal was playing their song “Kiss the Devil” at the moment that three terrorists stormed a Paris theater Friday and began opening fire, reports state.

“Who’ll love the devil? Who’ll sing his song?” the song’s lyrics ask. “Who will kiss the devil on his tongue?”

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“The Heavens Declare:” Discovery of “Baffling” Features on Pluto’s Surface Defies Evolutionary Models

According to Christian News Network:

HeavensA NASA spacecraft has discovered what appear to be ice-spewing volcanoes on the surface of Pluto, puzzling scientists who believed the distant world was old, dead, and dormant.

Last week, scientists at an American Astronomical Society meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, announced new findings from NASA’s “New Horizons” spacecraft, which flew by Pluto earlier this year. “New Horizons” was the first spacecraft to visit Pluto, so the data and images it collected have helped astronomers better understand the dwarf planet.

Prior to the Pluto flyby, Christian astronomers predicted that “New Horizons” would find evidence that Pluto is much younger than secular scientists allege.

“Rather than weakening the case for creation, data collected by previous spacecraft have only strengthened the case that our solar system was designed and is much younger than the age of 4.5 billion years that secular scientists have assigned to it,” wrote Dr. Jake Hebert, a physicist with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). “Christians should not be surprised if data collected by the New Horizons spacecraft continues this trend.”

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Thousands resign from false Mormon church – ‘cuz gay pride.

Berean Research reports:

Thousands of Mormons surrounded the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah over the weekend, many symbolically submitting their official resignation letters.

Is it because they finally realized Joseph Smith was a false prophet? Or that their extra-biblical Book of Mormon is heretical?

Nope. It’s because they think their church leaders are bigoted against homosexuals. An estimated 1,500 protestors carried signs and filled a mailbox full of their resignation letters.

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Breaking: France Drops “Twenty Bombs” on Key ISIS Targets

Christian News Network reports:

French fighter jets dropped 20 bombs on key ISIS targets in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday in retribution for the deadly massacre in Paris on Friday that killed over 130.

The airstrike, carried out in conjunction with the U.S. from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, struck an ISIS command center, a jihadist training center and an ammunition depot.

“The raid … including 10 fighter jets, was launched simultaneously from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan,” a statement from the French Ministry of Defense read. “Twenty bombs were dropped.”

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Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Claims Climate Change Causes Terrorism

According to Christian News Network:

In wake of a series of terrorist attacks that struck Paris on Friday night, the first question posed to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during Saturday night’s Democratic debate was whether he still believes climate change is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States—and Twitter users had a lot to say about his answer.

“Absolutely,” he said. “In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” Sanders added that climate change will cause farmers in countries “all over the world” to struggle with a scarcity of water and land to grow crops, which Sanders said studies have shown leads to international conflict.

Some Twitter users mocked Sanders’ response, saying he should tell the French people that but wouldn’t say that if he were face to face with a member of the Islamic State group.

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World religious leaders condemn Paris carnage

Religion News Service reports:

Pope Francis raised the specter of a World War III “in pieces,” Muslims issued statements of condemnation, while evangelical Christians in America debated whether to speak of a “war with Islam.”

These were some of the responses by religious leaders around the world on Saturday (Nov. 14) to the series of attacks overnight in Paris which left more than 120 people dead.

“This is not human,” Francis said phone call to an Italian Catholic television station. Asked by the interviewer if it was part of a “Third World War in pieces,” he responded: “This is a piece. There is no justification for such things.”

Earlier, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, released a statement saying: “This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”

In Cairo, Al-Azhar University, the preeminent seat of Sunni Muslim scholarship, called the attacks a criminal act, and said that “Islam denounces any violence,” the Arabic news site Al Arabiya reported, quoting Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

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Fraudulent Faith

From a sermon on First Timothy preached by Pastor Ray C. Stedman

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth (1 Timothy 4:3).

One of the strange marks of religious error is that it is so often accompanied by ascetic practices, that is, denial of certain normal, natural human enjoyments. One of them is marriage. A number of groups have historically forbidden marriage to their adherents with the idea that sex is unclean, and those who indulge in it are certainly less dedicated than those who refrain.

Foods come under this heading too. I do not mean to imply at all that there is anything wrong with diets. It is obvious that some people need dieting. There is nothing wrong with studies on nutrition and proper eating. Nevertheless, through the course of human history there has been a strange affinity between food restrictions and fads and religious error.

The reason is that at the heart of asceticism is a conviction that self-denial somehow pleases God. It can be very earnest, very sincere. Often Christians fall into this error in their early Christian days, thinking that if they deny themselves in some way God is going to be pleased, and their status in His sight will be advanced. That is why some Christians love to get up early in the morning for Scripture reading or memorize hundreds of verses of Scripture or pray on their knees for long periods of time. These practices, which in themselves are not wrong, nevertheless become wrong because their motive (that of gaining God’s favor by self-denial) is wrong.

This is a good example of the subtlety by which error begins. When a deviation enters a stream of truth, at the first point of deviation, error looks like truth; it is very hard to see it as error. This is what has misled so many people. They never recognize error until they become engrossed in it. Down the line they begin to suspect that it is error, but by that time they are already hooked.

There is a difference between self-denial and denying self. Jesus said, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). That is denying self. But that is easily confused with self-denial, which says, I will give up this thing or that thing. I want to gain a special mark of favor before God, and I want to influence God to do something for me in return. When our motivation ultimately is to achieve something for ourselves by our actions, we are no longer denying self but practicing self-denial.

How subtle the differences are! Self-denial is an attempt to earn favor apart from faith in the gift of righteousness which makes us wholly acceptable before God right at the very beginning of our Christian life; denying self is a refusal to heed those silken arguments of the inner ego that appeal to us to show how good we are by giving up something.

Life Application

What is the difference between self-denial and denying self? Are we careful not to let subtle religious error lead us into a fraudulent faith apart from Christ’s righteousness?

Fraudulent Faith