I want to come and sit next to you and share something on my heart. My passion is Jesus, which spills all over His written word. I would like to offer something that I have been drawn to. When I walk into a Christian bookstore, it is there. On the shelves at Wal-Mart, Target and other department stores, it is there. I have heard so many ladies claim of its inspiration, full of guidance, considering it strong enough for the day’s journey. Over the years every time I pick it up I get a HUGE check in my spirit. I do a quick ‘thumb through’ and still …red flags and put it down. It is the book ‘God Calling’ and the newer rendition, ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young.
Many use this book for their morning devotions rather than the Bible itself or alongside the scriptures. I decided to take a closer look. As I researched the origin of this book, (sorry this article is quite lengthy) I was shocked. ‘God Calling’ was written by two women known as ‘The Listeners.’ They wanted to remain ‘anonymous.’ This is NOT a book full of ‘allegory’ the intent is ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ It is written (as is ‘Jesus Calling’) in the First-person perspective. Meaning a personal story, or a running commentary of thoughts. We the reader are not watching this from the outside but through their eyes. We see what they see and hear what they hear. So, in essence, the authors are claiming these are Jesus’ words. With a strong declaration, they state they would sit down with pen & paper, empty their minds and then begin to write. Write messages, messages they claim were from Jesus Himself. The messages are peppered with bible verses or a slight glimpse that is referenced at the bottom of the page. The content is primarily the ladies poetic sway. They eventually took the whole collection of these messages and sent them to the Oxford Group, where the book was soon published via the Oxford Group (In England) and came out in 1935.
Who and what is the Oxford Group? The group is now called Moral Re-Armament (MRA). Members of the Oxford Group primarily find their guidance from within rather than the Bible. Even though a follower of MRA attempts to follow moral standards from the Bible or of any religion, his primary light is that inner voice and his primary goal is self-improvement. No cross is necessary; no shed blood is required. Each member is encouraged to sit with their journal, pen in hand, empty their minds and write whatever ‘God’ tells them, then act on it. This ‘method’ of listening/writing is known as “automatic writing.” An alleged psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source. (Sounds New Age does it not? This is a very dangerous thing!)
Sarah Young, author of ‘Jesus Calling’ states that her inspiration first came from reading the book ‘God Calling.’ She was so enamored by the idea, that she began the pursuit of ‘listening’ as well. She states: (quote) “This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.” Notice that her solution to addressing the desire for Jesus’ Presence and Peace is not Scripture or any other means of grace, but what appears to be the very messages she provides in her book. In her writings, she speaks seldom of sin and repentance and even less of Christ’s work on the cross.
A common denominator of all mysticism, (just cutting to the chase) acclaimed Christian or not, is the journey inward. The idea is to quiet the mind (soul) so that the result is space where one supposedly meets God within. According to Young’s citation of Jesus from her journal, this is what He wants as well, remember the “I” or “Me” is supposedly Jesus speaking: “I meet you in the stillness of your soul. It is there that I seek to commune with you. . . . Stillness of soul is increasingly rare in this world addicted to speed and noise. I am pleased with your desire to create a quiet space where you and I can meet.” (April 4)
Her main focus is ‘awareness.’ Awareness of Presence. Excerpt: “Let Me infuse My Presence into your thoughts. As your mind stops racing, your body relaxes and you regain awareness of Me. . . . There are actually more than four dimensions in this world where you live. In addition to the three dimensions of space and the one of time, there is the dimension of openness to My presence.” (May 24) Awareness, consciousness, and openness as described by Young are substitutes for faith in the promise of God of the Bible. “When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place.” (January 28th) One more, BAD theology: “Most of mankind’s misery stems from feeling unloved.” (August 1)
Oh please do not get me wrong, I am fully persuaded that the prophetic is true and Holy Spirit DOES speak to us, through us, guides us and worthy of writing it down in our journals. HOWEVER, to apparently set aside the Holy written word and make the main focus on our ‘personal revelation’ is a very dangerous and wrong place to be, let alone someone taking that word, publishing it and others potentially reading THAT in place of God speaking from His holy scripture. One thing rings so true, the Holy Spirit NEVER contradicts the ‘Word’ nor does He contradict Jesus or the Father. The Holy Spirit points to Jesus and Jesus points to the Father.
I find nowhere in the Bible we are to ’empty’ our minds, rather we are to ‘think on these things’ (Paul lists in Phil. 4:8) We are exhorted over and over to “Mediate…” which in God’s economy, (in short) is the filling of our minds with His word and chewing on it! Paul exhorts “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5) Also… “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Ro. 2:2) The Pastor of Hebrews, “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4:12) Paul to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16) If God’s word is inspired and useful for equipping for every good work – what more do we need, outside of instruction of the Bible to lead our personal revelation of our God? If we keep seeking the ‘other’ we become like Eve in the garden, distorting what God has said and listening to what sounds pleasing to us. If not kept in check, this new revelation would soon replace the authority of scripture, creating new standards that we live by.
Paul said to Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4) This is rampant today, we want to tickle our ears, massage our heart and soften our pain. In doing so we reach beyond Jesus. Reach beyond His words grabbing for something else. As a dear friend shared, “This happens when we know other books better than we know the word of God, we are easily deceived.” How many folks are underlining, circling and highlighting Sarah’s words rather than opening their Bible and reading His words?
I would offer balance of course. And if you do read these books and any others similar, to please prayerfully take this information to Jesus. Align it with scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what is next. When choosing a devotional, make it come-along side (not in place of) the bible, may it be based on scripture, with sound theology. I LOVE devotional books, my favorites are Our Daily Bread, My Utmost for His Highest and Praying the Names of God, Praying the Attributes of God, by Ann Spangler.
Devotion is defined as, “The fact or state of being ardently dedicated, relating to, or characterized by.” What is it we want to be dedicated to, or characterized by? The word of God or someone else’s empty-minded personal revelation. I don’t want someone putting words in God’s mouth when He speaks to me. Thank you for reading this monstrous article, it is only written with a heart of love and desirous of the very best for you. You are loved dearly.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another one towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)