Thursday, February 2, 2017
Living in a shack with Jabez and Sarah Young, and wearing my WWJD bracelet
Seventeen years ago, I was in my second year of five years working at a Christian bookstore in Salem, OH. A small book came out that year that took Christendom by storm, and became the best seller for any Christian bookstore. People would come up to the counter and ask, "do you have that book....." and I knew what book they were going to say.....The Prayer of Jabez. Well, except for the one lady who asked for "The Prayer of Jezebel" by mistake.... (That did happen).
The prayer is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10: "And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, 'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.' So God granted him what he requested." It had sat there unnoticed for thousands of years until miraculously Bruce Willkinson discovered it and changed everyone's lives......(yeah, right!"
Seriously, people really got into praying this prayer. I had one lady convinced she had been asked to be in charge of her church's Christmas cantata as a result of her praying it. I admit I got the book (for free) and tried praying it.... but I should have skipped the part about enlarging my territory. All that happened was I gained weight. :)
It didn't take me long to decide this was a fluke. God doesn't need little perfectly worded prayers, and this short prayer in the Old Testament was not some magic charm that would grant the pray-er his wishes if prayed enough. And yet millions of Christians swallowed the lie that praying this prayer was going to give them blessings. As with any Christian fad that has no substance, it eventually died out. Now you can buy the book as cheap as 49 cents on some websites.
In 2004, a devotional came out that has become one of the most popular modern day devotionals: Jesus Calling. I was intrigued a few years ago, and bought a copy. I mentioned it on Facebook, and a friend sent me a link to what a popular preacher had to say about the book and author, and it gave me enough pause that I returned the book and got my money back.
The more I researched the book, the more bothered I became by it. For one thing, the whole book is supposedly Jesus talking......we already have a book of Jesus talking. It is called The Bible. Also, this mysterious author has an odd religious past. Her conversion story is just weird. Ms Young makes the claim that Jesus is speaking through her in this book...... a dangerous claim. Is she legit? I guess it is possible, but I decided to err on the side of caution and have nothing to do with her devotionals.
There is a great review of her book here.
When The Shack came out, I was intrigued. I was reading reviews of it on Amazon and Christianbook.com, and there was no middle ground. People either loved it, or they hated it intensely. I wanted to read it, but I didn't want to buy it. I contacted my library, and they got a copy in. I read the book, and was disgusted completely by it. In addition to quite a few curse words being thrown around, I felt the author lowered God the Father and Jesus way lower than they should have been. God was a black woman with poor speech who seemed a Santa Claus type figure. Jesus was a bumbling idiot. And the Holy Spirit was also a woman.
I hated the book, and found it heretical.... a serious charge to make, but I stand by it. I posted two reviews of it:
The Shack, life-changing, or heresy?
Revisiting The Shack
I am one of a few moderators for a Facebook group for Christian bloggers. This past week, a man submitted an article he wrote about The Shack - it is coming out as a movie. He titled his post "Why You Shouldn't See The Shack - But Why So Many Will. It is a very well thought out post, and he brought out some things I had not considered. If you like the book and/or are going to see the movie, you owe it to yourself to read it: Why You Shouldn't See The Shack - But Why So Many Will.
And by the way..... he also calls the book heretical.
WWJD, The Purpose Driven Life, and more. There is constantly something or someone coming out on the Christian market and Christian scene. And over and over Christians throng to buy, read, listen to, support, etc this new fad or person.
But where is our wisdom and discernment?
I read a lot. There have been some books that have truly made a difference in my life: The Ragamuffin Gospel, Not a Fan, He Loves Me, Gods At War...... and even some fictional books. Yet these books and authors are not without error. I'd like to think I have gotten pretty good at weeding out what isn't true when I read, but I am human.... so I am sure I don't do as good of a job as I would like to think.
And then there is the fact that I did pray the prayer of Jabez for a while, got into the Purpose Driven Life, did the WWJD thing.....(I didn't wear the bracelet, thankfully").... and I know I erred with other things also.
I am not one of those people who chirp that the Bible is all we need. Books, sermons, speeches, and other mediums can help us in our spiritual lives, and I can completely attest to that...... but there is a danger of just swallowing everything that comes along that is labeled Christian. Something doesn't need to be 100% heresy to steer us wrong..... all it needs is a small bit of heresy or something that isn't Biblical.
When Jesus sent out His disciples, He told them to be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. I think we Christians have the harmless as doves down pretty well, but I fear we all are sadly lacking in discernment and wisdom. I want that. I don't want to be fooled by anything that has un-Biblical stuff in it. May God help us all to seek wisdom, and ask God to help us to see the truth about what we read, see, and hear.