Children Experiencing Mennonite Labyrinth

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42

Watch children experiencing the labyrinth, compliments of Shalom Mennonite Virginia . . .

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What is the labyrinth?

LABYRINTHS, Prayer Paths That Promote the Occult
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm

The Labyrinth Journey:
Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

By Carl Teichrib
http://www.forcingchange.org/the_labyrinth_journey

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Menno Monday – for Menno-lites

For the neo-Mennonites who preach peace-lite, from the courageous pen of Menno Simons, whose name they call themselves by . . .

“O dear Lord, how lovely are those pastors and teachers who seek nothing else but the extension of the kingdom of God; who rightly preach the word of repentance and grace, that they may win many souls; and for this end, they expose their reputation, houses, property, persons and lives.
These are they, who, with Christ, the chief shepherd, gather together and feed his lambs; but the others are those who scatter and destroy them. They are prophets, but not of God; they preach, but not out of the Lord’s mouth. They strengthen the hands of the ungodly. They destroy the souls who should have eternal life, and encourage those who must forever die; and this they do for handfuls of barley and pieces of bread. They preach to the people peace when there is no peace. Therefore, shall they stand in shame, who follow such abominations, although they yet are not ashamed and yet forbear to blush, Ezek. 13:16.”

Menno Simons, THE DOCTRINE OF THE PREACHERS.
http://www.mennosimons.net/ft013-doctrineofpreachers.html

Mennonite and Jewish History

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:3

The irony . . .

The similarities between Mennonite and Jewish history are readily apparent, prompting one well-known Mennonite author to write:

My own linkage to the Jewish people has a very special history. The Mennonite people have often been likened to the Jews, both by themselves and by outsiders. Mennonites, like Jews, have been a wandering minority, often persecuted by both church and state, though the Mennonite story is much briefer, dating back only to 1525. And its tales of martyrdom, however horrible in Stalinist Russia in the twentieth century and the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth, are surpassed in magnitude by the Nazi holocaust. Yet there are strong parallels and every time Fiddler on the Roof visits our community I see not only Jewish exiles escaping tsarist pogroms, but also thousands of my own people, including father and mother, driven from their homes by the Communist revolution, by the ensuing civil war, and by the collectivization in the Soviet Era.[1]

Given their experience of being a wandering, murdered, and oppressed minority, one might imagine that Mennonite-supported institutions would have words of comfort for Israeli Jews and words of condemnation for those who call for their destruction. To the contrary, Mennonite activists provide aid and comfort to those who foment anti-Semitism and seek Israel’s destruction.

Source:
Key Mennonite Institutions against Israel, Dexter Van Zile
http://jcpa.org/article/key-mennonite-institutions-against-israel/

As Menno Simons prophetically penned…

“Since then, we have been saved out of the mouths of the lions and bears of the pit, and out of the snares of concealed thieves and robbers, through the great Shepherd of the sheep, the High Priest of our souls, Christ Jesus, and are now upon the chosen and fruitful mountain of Israel, and the green luxuriant pastures of the holy word (the Lord be eternally thanked), our hungering consciences have been fed with the food of eternal life, it must ever be a condemnable folly to forsake such a true shepherd, and such precious pastures, and again enter upon the barren and waste deserts, under the false shepherd who does nothing else but rob and deprive God of his glory, and rain and murder our poor miserable souls, John 10:8.”[2]

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[1] Frank Epp, The Palestinians: Portrait of a People in Conflict (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1976), 13.
[2] SENDING PREACHERS http://www.mennosimons.net/ft012-sendingpreachers.html

Menno Monday – for Menno-lites

For all those neo-Mennonites (Menno-lites) who are returning to Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday and 40 days of Lent, and are calling themselves after Menno Simons in name only, whose pen exhorts from the grave….

“. . . Christ says, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:5. Here do not understand such repentance as is taught and practiced by an erring world, which consists only in an outward appearance and human righteousness, such as hypocritical fastings, pilgrimages, praying and reading Pater Nosters and Ava Marias, hearing frequent masses, auricular confessions, and the like hypocrisies which Christ and his apostles did in no wise teach and command. Hence it cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice, but rather will be a provocation, and tend to excite the divine displeasure. Such doctrines are unavailing and fruitless commands of men, the accursed and enchanted wine of the Babylonian whoredom, which those who have dwelt upon the earth, through the just anger of God, have drunk for so many ages, Rev. 17:2. But we speak of a repentance possessed of power and works, as John the Baptist teaches, saying, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father,” Matt. 3:8. “And now also the age is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree, therefore, which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire,” Luke 3:9.

Menno Simons, SINCERE AND TRUE REPENTANCE. http://www.mennosimons.net/ft006-repentance.html

If we believe the word of God to be true…

More from the pen of Menno Simons, who by today’s standards would be considered a ‘judgmental, hate-mongering, intolerant, exclusive, right-wing fundamentalist,’ even by those who so lightly call themselves and their institutions after his name but don’t take heed to his warnings from the grave….

“My readers, take heed, if we, with the upright and godly Noah, observe the faithful warnings of Christ and his Holy Spirit, and believe with the whole heart; believe the word of God to be true and immutable, the threatened punishment will come in its time, even though it should be delayed a thousand years; yet, I advise that every one watch, for all who die in their sins, receive their punishment, for the time of grace is then expired; then we would undoubtedly fear and tremble to the inmost of our souls, at the wrath and punishment, threatened in the Scriptures to all the impenitent which will be eternal in its duration; we would pray to God for grace, would clothe ourselves in sackcloth and mourning garments, would truly repent, reform the wicked life, follow after righteousness, and with our new and spiritual Noah, Christ Jesus, enter into the new and spiritual ark, which is his church; ever being careful and fearful that the deluge of the coming wrath of God, will not unexpectedly overtake us with all the unbelieving and impenitent, who acknowledge neither God nor Christ, neither Spirit nor word, as it overtook the corrupt antediluvian world as mentioned; yea, we would sincerely watch for the coming of the Lord, and give heed to the time of grace, preserve our wedding garment, and have oil in our lamps, that our house be not unseasonably broken through, and we with the guest, who had not on a wedding garment, be cast forth from the Lord’s wedding, into outer darkness and abide eternally without.
Because alas, we do not believe the threats, punishments, wrath and judgments of the Lord, and have little regard for the examples of Scripture, therefore, we say with the mockers, Beloved, where is the promise of his coming? All things abide as they were from the beginning since the fathers fell asleep. It will, I fear, happen with us as it did with the unbelievers and disobedient who were overtaken with sudden destruction in the time of Noah and Lot, as one may plainly see and read concerning the coming of the Lord, Matt. 24; Luke 17; because we do not believe the threats, judgments, and wrath of the Lord, but disregard them, therefore do we lead such a reckless, unbridled life, follow the lusts of the flesh, eat, drink, build, sow, reap and marry without any fear or care, and avariciously hoard up gold, silver and possessions, and haughtily say in our hearts there is peace and liberty, till swift destruction shall overtake us.
Again, let every one look well and watch. The messenger, with his peremptory summons is already at the door, who will say, Render an account; thou mayest be no longer steward. But could we, with the unwavering and pious Noah, firmly believe the coming eternal wrath and punishment, also the promises through Christ, to all true Children of God, we would, undoubtedly, not be found so inattentive, drowsy and indifferent, but with full earnestness without delay, rise from our abominable sin, separate ourselves from our grievous errors, and shun wickedness as we would a hungry, roaring lion, or a blood-thirsty enemy; we should also watch with open eyes all our days, lest the Master of the house overtake us when we sleep and regard us not.”

SOURCE: Noah’s Faith
http://www.mennosimons.net/ft027-noahsfaith.html

The Stillness and Lectio Divina at a Mennonite “Biblical” Seminary?

The seminary for the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches is there to equip and educate future pastors, leaders, missionaries, counsellors and teachers for ministry within the Mennonite Brethren constituency. This fall, one of the courses offered by the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary to equip future pastors and teachers and missionaries is listed on the CMU 2013-14 COURSE TIMETABLE:

BTS-5960M Being with God in Stillness and Scripture (1.0 credit hour) This course will draw on biblical, historical and experiential resources for developing a conversational relationship with Jesus Christ through the practices of stillness, and `sacred reading’ of Scripture (lectio divina). Students will complete several assignments after participating in a one-day workshop. (In 2013 this workshop will be offered in two Ontario locations.)
Instructor: Andrew Dyck
http://www.mbseminary.ca/cmu-courses

Is this really a biblical practice?

The practice of stillness is a spiritual formation term that many Christians are using today to find God’s presence. It is different than finding a quiet place away from noise and distractions to meditate on scripture. It is referring to the silence that is found by achieving a mystical stillness of the mind.(1) One method used by those who practice contemplative spirituality to get into this place is called Lectio Divina, a practice that has been kept alive in the tradition of Benedictine monastics that involves emptying the mind of all thoughts, focusing on the breath and repeating a word or small phrase. The “presence” found in the resulting “silence” is actually an altered state of consciousness.(2) The danger is that the voice and presence found in the silence may not be God’s.

Where in the Bible are we taught to find a relationship with Jesus Christ through any such practices?

Even Richard Foster, a well known promoter of contemplative prayer, warns about this kind of prayer and says that it is not for the novice…

“At the onset I need to give a word of warning, a little like the warning labels on medicine bottles. Contemplative prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about other forms of prayer. All are welcome, regardless of proficiency or expertise, to enter freely into adoration and meditation and intercession and a host of other approaches to prayer. But contemplation is different. While we are all precious in the eyes of God, we are all not equally ready to listen to God’s speech in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all embracing silence…
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know … there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way!
… But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection…”
(page 156 – 157, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home)

Even though this is not backed up anywhere in scripture, future pastors, leaders, missionaries, counsellors and teachers will be taught by the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary that this is a biblical way to pray. How much farther will the practice of stillness and lectio divina spread to the Mennonite Brethren constituency? It’s already everywhere. Take a look around. And if the Spirit of God convicts and inspires you to speak out, do not remain silent. There’s already enough of that!

Endnotes:

1) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm
2) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/lectiodivina.htm

RELATED:

Who Goes There?
by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for Contemplative Spirituality
Encountering voices in the quiet of contemplative prayer.
http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/11/16/who-goes-there-2/

Beginners and Beggars?

“I appreciate Thomas Merton’s perspective that “we will never be anything else but beginners.”” April Yamasaki
(aprilyamasaki.com/2012/12/29/2012-most-popular-posts/)

At her Sacred Pauses book launch at a Christian Bible and book store, author and pastor April Yamasaki ended her book promotion with this quote from Thomas Merton (at 14:15 minutes HERE):

We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners.
Thomas Merton, Excerpts from Contemplative Prayer, in Richard J.Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds., Devotional Classics (Harper: San Fransisco, 1993), 64

-From page 180, Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, Herald Press, by April Yamasaki

To find out who Thomas Merton was, listen to the following discussion (between the 5-8 minute marks) with Christian author and researcher, Ray Yungen:

As mentioned in the above video, when Trappist monk Thomas Merton went on his spiritual quest to meet with the Buddhist monks, he went as a pilgrim, not as a missionary evangelist. After reading the Merton quote in her book Sacred Pauses, April Yamasaki went on to read more from her book:

“Just as evangelism has been described as one beggar telling another beggar where there is bread, that applies here too. When it comes to spiritual practice, we are all like beggars telling other beggars where there is bread to nourish our souls.”

-April Yamasaki, page 180, Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, Herald Press

In the Bible, a beggar was someone in want, a poor and needy person of the lowest class, oppressed, afflicted and wretched, needing deliverance from trouble by God, as we read in 1 Samuel:

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.”
1 Samuel 2:8,9

Beggars were reduced to begging because they were lowly, afflicted, often full of sores, helpless, powerless, and lacking in anything. A beggar cowers down, slinks or crouches in fear. They are destitute of wealth, influence, position and honour. But believers are not beggars, they are rich in Christian virtues and an eternal inheritance. Paul prayed for believers in Christ that:

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power”
Ephesians 1:18,19

Believers in Jesus Christ who have been rescued by God are not destitute beggars:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” Ephesians 2:19

To believe that we as Christians will never be anything but beggars and beginners is walking in contradiction to the Bible, which tells us that we are to grow in our walk, not remain babes. Believers are to grow in knowledge according to Christ’s divine power (2 Peter 1). The Bible addresses those who are never anything but beginners:

For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5:13,14

Would you agree that Christians who admire quotes from Thomas Merton which contradict the Bible, or believe that as saints in Christ we are merely beggars, may need to get back to the Bible and be reminded  who they are in Christ?

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
– Jesus Christ, John 15:15

RELATED:

Pausing to Examine ‘Sacred Pauses’
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/pausing-to-examine-sacred-pauses/
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Ray Yungen will be speaking at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C. Canada, this August 15th-17th. [See SCHEDULE.]  Also speaking at this conference will be Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries. How ironic that these men, who speak so strongly against contemplative Roman Catholic spirituality entering the evangelical church, will be speaking at a Mennonite college that has been promoting those exact things.

See also:
Will Mennonites Be Attending This Conference?