Archive for September, 2007

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Ten Biblical Reasons I Wouldn’t Buy "The Secret" Even if it Came with Free Titleist Golf Balls

September 30, 2007

Don’t you hate it when part 1 of an article and part 2 are this far apart.

So now let me give you ten biblical responses to the book “The Secret”. As you will quickly tell, my take is that “The Secret” has nothing really in common with the Bible and should not in any way be construed as a spiritually helpful book for those who hold to the Bible’s teachings. These ten responses are not in any particular order. This is appropriate because the book is essentially just a collection of sayings all centered around the same topic. The topic, however, does not happen to be The Bible.

1. In this book, you and God get confused. Here is a quotation from Lisa Nichols, the most frequently quoted writer in the book: ““You are eternal life. You are God manifested in human form, made to perfection.” There are so many verses I could turn to in order to show that this is not biblical, but one will be enough. Deuteronomy 6:4 says “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” There is only one God. We cannot be God manifested in human form. That is Jesus. I am not Jesus. My favorite t-shirt will always be “There are two essential truths: There is a God, and you are not Him“. Many of the authors in the Secret confuse God with themselves or their readers. There is a true statement that if you make everything the same thing then nothing is that thing. If everyone is God there is no God. If all is beautiful, there is no beauty.

2. The Claim that Jesus is a Millionaire: This claim is made by two of the authors. It is not a new idea, but one that hadn’t seen the written page in many decades. People who want to get rich, or teach others to get rich…and want to use Jesus as an example…like to claim he was wealthy beyond the average man. But Jesus’ assessment of himself was quite clear: “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” There is no evidence either in the Bible or in historical documents that Jesus was anything but poor. To suggest otherwise is to ignore truth.

3. The book claims that the Bible tells you to do three things to get what you want: Ask, believe, receive. It also tells you that you can have whatever you want, no matter what it is, if you do these three things. I assume that includes evil things as well. The book does not place any moral values on anything except that poverty and illness are evil. The Bible does tell us that if we ask anything according to God’s will He hears us. And it also warns us that our prayers will not be answered if we ask with selfish motives. The Secret is all about selfishness, so it is hard to see that it lines up with the Bible at all.

4. God is called “The Universe” in 10 different places. The universe is said to have been created by God in the Bible. How can God be both creator and creation. That is a logical and biblical impossibility. We are told to worship God but never to worship any created thing.

5. The most frequent phrase used in the book is “the Law of Attraction”. (see a previous post for more information on this). The author says that this is another way of saying Love. Therefore, she concludes, the Law of Attraction is what the Bible is all about since the Bible is all about love. First, the Bible is not all about love. It is all about God and man’s pursuit of God. Love does come into it, but so do many other virtues. Second, love is much more selfless and profound than a rule that says I get to have whatever I focus on. If you read 1 Corinthians 13 where it says “Love is patient, love is kind, love does NOT SEEK ITS OWN” you get a picture of love that is absolutely the opposite of what Byrne says it is.

6. Bob Proctor in the book says that Quantum physics teaches that all matter results from thought. First, I cannot imagine a single Physic professor agreeing with that statement. But secondly, we are told that the Universe was spoken into being by God. If you can’t even agree with the Bible on the origin of the Universe, then there is little else that the Bible and The Secret can possibly have in common.

7. Fred Wolf, another contributor to the book, says that we are recreating the universe with our thoughts. Once again, this makes us God. But it also disagrees with man’s current place in the universe. According to Romans 8, the universe is groaning in anticipation for the revealing of the Sons of God. This revealing will take place when God remakes the new heavens and the new earth. Man is not creating the universe or making it better. The sin of man is what caused the universe to get messed up and it stays that way by the sin of man.

8. Their Universe (another name for God in this book) believes in speed. One author says it this way: ” the Universe likes speed, so don’t delay. There is no virtue in letting anything come slowly.” We are told that God is slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. According to this book, the universe does not think anything about you, it only responds to you. None of this matches Scripture.

9. The Bible says that sin is selfishness. This book calls selfishness a virtue and the strongest force in the universe.

10. We are told in the Bible to renounce secret ways. The whole idea of this book is that these truths she is propounding are a secret and only the initiated will really understand them. The Bible is clear that all mankind understands what God has revealed through nature and through his Son Jesus. The old “mystery religions” of the first century made the same mistake as this book, as do most cults. God tells us clearly in Deuteronomy 29:29: ““The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

I could have mentioned dozens of other ways that The Secret directly contradicts the Bible. In essence, you either believe the Bible or the Secret. You can’t have both.

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Sorry

September 30, 2007

It is conference season for me and my ilk. Later on tonight I have the next installment in the series on “The Secret” (the next one to follow tomorrow night). I apologize for not posting it sooner.

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Where is "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" Now?

September 10, 2007

The book that swept the nation the last five years is no longer the leading seller at the top of the advice book list. And it is not hard to see why. I believe it has done more damage to our economy than any book in the last twenty years.

The basic premise of the book is that rich dads teach their children that real wealth is accrued by using other people’s money to accumulate properties and wealth. The assumption is that you can borrow against the equity position in hard assets (i.e. homes and property) and because these assets don’t depreciate in value – in the long term – you will be able to use other people’s money to make a fortune. Just use the equity of your own home, leverage it to buy nine other homes and you will be set for life.

This is, indeed what rich dads teach their kids. And because property values over the long-term go up, this concept does work.

But the problem with leveraging is that it only works for one group of people: Those who already have enough assets in reserve to make it work in the long-run. When the inevitable downturns in the market happen, most people with short positions on their investments (meaning that they have to continue making money or their loans will be called in) go broke or worse.

This is actually what is causing the housing crisis to worsen; not just the family that spent too much on a house financed with an Adjustable Rate mortgage. The prices would never have gone up so quickly if people all around the country had not been so eager to leverage everything.

What rich dads also teach their kids is this: When you run into a slowing housing market, hold onto assets and dad will help you pay for the lending costs. Poor dads, on the other hand, cannot help their kids when the short-term profits end. Therefore, poor kids panic.

See the difference?

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Evaluating "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne – Part 1

September 7, 2007

After the death of one of her parents in 2004, Rhonda Byrne began to explore various religions and religious teachings. Somehow, her quest brought a book to her attention by Wallace Wattles called “The Science of Getting Rich”. Through this book, Ms. Byrne had an epiphany of sorts and began to discover that the Truth claims in Wattles book were not distinct with him alone. Doing some cursory searches of the Internet, Ms. Byrne found many other authors, Self-help teachers, religious teachers and groups that espoused the basic principles that Wattles teaches in this book.

The book itself, published in 1910 is not even the best of its breed, outstripped by far in the writings of Napoleon Hill, Charles Fillmore and Norman Vincent Peale. Byrne was convinced that she had discovered a huge secret of how to live a dynamic and successful life. So smitten was she that she assembled a film crew and interviewed more than twenty proponents of New Thought, Unity School and Religious Science teachers and made a movie called “The Secret”.

Because Oprah is a closet follower of New Thought doctrine, she invited Byrne onto her program a few times and showed clips of the movie. From that introduction, Byrne had doors open to her and from Oprah’s insistence published a book (also called “The Secret”) utilizing material from the DVD. Oprah had her back on the program after the book was published and it immediately became a runaway best-seller and has stayed in that position for more than a year.

I have had several people ask me what I think of the book. I had not bought it after it came out because a quick glance at both the names of the contributors and a few of the chapter titles told me all I needed to know. But I have had many Christians buy the book and profess that they like the conclusions it draws but feel strangely uneasy about the contents. Therefore, I am putting forward this three-part evaluation of “The Secret” in hopes that both Christians and non-Christians alike will see the book with more realistic viewpoints and get rid of the hype that so often follows the offerings of Oprah.

This first entry deals with the overall Truth Claims of “The Secret”. The next blog entry will focus primarily on how “The Secret” stacks up against the Bible’s truth claims. And the third entry (by far the shortest) will focus on what value the book has for any of us.

By way of introduction, let me state what I mean by a “Truth Claim”. This is a statement which claims to be true but offers no concrete evidence or logical summary. Truth claims are simply what they sound like: A claim to have the truth. The reader either accepts them or not. The Bible is actually a book of Truth Claims. It does not prove the existence of God, His hand in Creating the world, His role in miracles etc. It just states who God is and claims all that it says to be true.

In the Secret, most of the Truth claims are based upon a principle Byrne calls “The Law of Attraction”. The author tries to claim that the Law of Attraction is actually a standard law of Physics. She never does say that this law is actually Gravity, (i.e. The attraction of two physical objects to each other) and there is good reason that she doesn’t. If she called it Gravity then we would have no way of applying it to the realm of thought. She quotes Fred Alan Wolf, a physicist, a number of times claiming that the Universe holds together by the Law of Attraction. He does not call it Gravity either, because he must know that is not the only Law that holds the Universe together.

At the same time there is an attraction going on between bodies, there is also a repulsion going on. At the molecular level…inside an atom…we have both attraction and repulsion operating. That is first year college physics. If this were not true, the entire Universe would collapse into a black hole of unimaginably small size and unimaginably large mass. Every atom has a proton and a neutron with a number of electrons floating around. The electrons repel each other and therefore keep their distance. The neutron does not attract or repel. The proton holds the electrons, but the existence of other electrons keeps everything in balance.

Byrne claims that the Universe (capital U because the Universe is a living being to Byrne) operates on the principle of attraction. If you have a positive thought, positive results are attracted to you. If you have a negative thought, negative things are attracted to you. Many times in the book, the claim is made that all negative things that happen are a result of a negative thought. If you have a car accident, you must have had a thought that attracted that car accident. If you get a bill in the mail, it is because you expected a bill in the mail. Lisa Nichols (one of the participants) says that if you go to the mailbox and expect only checks, that is what you will get. Yet later on, Bob Proctor talks about taking his bills and whiting out the amounts whenever he gets them. This implies he gets bills. I guess Lisa attracts good things better than Bob.

Another truth claim is that our emotions are the only true measurement of what we’re thinking. If you have bad thoughts, you will have bad emotions. If you have good thoughts you will have good emotions. Therefore, it also works in reverse. If you work at having a good emotion, you will have a good thought. This, of course, has been proven to be absolutely false to the uttermost degree. You can have hormones at work, you can have illness, injury or external circumstances at work. You can be grieving over the loss of a loved ones and yet only have love for them. The author also never specifies what a bad emotion or a good one is. Good emotions, we are told are the ones that make you feel good. Cocaine can also do that for you, so I guess cocaine would be a great substance for use with the Secret.

The author also claims that if you believe you will have something completely it will be yours. The other contributors claim to have received cars, boats, airline tickets, stacks of money, fame and fortune. One writer claims that a painter friend of his acquaintance wanted more girlfriends, more sex partners. When asked how many, he responded “three a week would be good”. So he painted paintings and left them around the house showing himself with three women in each one. Since that time, he has been dating three women a week (we can assume these are different women each time) and loving the experience. Claims are also made about healing from disease, changes in relationships, and even the ability to get the parking space you want almost every time.

What they don’t address is the moral and ethical value of what you will be receiving. Two “for instances” should suffice, though you will immediately see how many more there could be. If a person who wants to have sex with a child thinks positive thoughts and can visualize having a child in their bed, according to these principles they will have what they want. If someone is positive that the world would be better off if we wiped out an entire people group, and approached that thought with joy and visualization and faith and determination, then that people group would be completely wiped off the earth. How completely mind-numbing that approach to living is. Yet, all through the book there is no claim to moral boundaries or ethical strictures. Anything you want is yours to have.

In addition, the book makes a claim that the more completely you believe something, the more the Universe has to give it to you. But it doesn’t deal with the logical absurdity of that. What if two people are asking for opposite things and they both want it equally as much. Such as two football fans both visualizing their team winning. Perhaps you’re thinking that the authors wouldn’t take it to that extreme. But they do. They claim that you can end a bad marriage with the Secret. You can attract hundreds of millions of dollars to yourself with this Secret. You can get the house you want without even seeing the house with this Secret. At least 20 times we are told you can have “anything” you want by applying the Law of Attraction.

At its very core, the book has a flaw of approach. It claims that religions all over the world have been teaching this for centuries. It claims that most of the world’s great thinkers agree with this. At one point, we are even told that Jesus himself was a millionaire, even though He Himself claimed to own nothing. But the only quotes that are used of some of the world’s most famous people (e.g. Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon to name a few) don’t actually quote them backing up the teachings of the book, but rather sprinkle quotes around which have some of the same wording but when found in context say something completely different. For instance, they quote Einstein as asking “The one thing we need to know is, is the Universe a friendly place?”. Byrne speculates that Einstein asks this question to get us to answer “yes”. For, if we answer “no”, the universe will be unfriendly to us. If we answer “yes” it will be friendly to us.

And, by the way, what is this Universe thing? Almost every page the Universe is referred to. It is seen at different points as the being that makes decisions about our life, but also a machine that we can control. It follows its own laws, but we can control it. It wants only good for us, but it is the source of evil. It is wealthy beyond measure but the wealth actually comes to us from other people. The Universe, as it is laid out in this book, is a logical impossibility.

One more logical inconsistency in the book. It claims that everyone can apply this and we can all be wealthy. But if everyone has a million dollars, that will make everyone’s money worth less. At any given time, there can only be so much wealth. To have more wealth created without there being more production is called Inflation. Inflation causes all possessions and money to be worth less.

Here is the real rule of economics: The more wealthy people there are, the more poverty will exist. That is the rule of the world since the beginning of time. You can’t just print money, or wish it into existence. That will increase the money supply and create inflation. When everyone is rich, paper will cost a fortune and food will be outrageously priced. It can’t work the way the book says it will. Life is a zero-sum game. That means if someone wins, then someone else loses. If someone makes money on the stock exchange, someone lost money. If one of the authors of the book, Jack Canfield (of the Chicken Soup books) makes a million dollars on a book, it means that 100,000 people are $10 poorer for buying the book.

Finally, the author claims that the Secret has been hidden away and is only now being brought forward (that’s why it is called “The Secret). That is a crock. This is basically just the teachings of philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg, which morphed into Christian Science, Religious Science, Unity School, Ekankar, New Thought, and the Word of Faith Movement. There is not a single word in this book which did not derive from Swedenborg, Fillmore, Baker Eddy and Phineas Quimby.

Over the years, families have been destroyed by family members who tried to live out these truth claims only to find that they don’t often work. Let’s say a family has a small child with an infection. Instead of going to a doctor for antibiotics, they simply try and think positive thoughts. When the child gets sicker, they usually blame each other for not having enough positive thoughts. I have seen this pattern with so many New Thought, Christian Science and Unity school people. What I have never seen is more joy, more life, more vitality, or more money in these families. In fact, I have seen the opposite.

In the book, Bob Proctor claims that if you attract health to you, you will never get sick or injured. Since almost all death is the result of either injury or illness, no one in the history of the world has practiced this perfectly, if the standard is that we never have injuries or illness.

The underlying truth claims of the book are nonsense and don’t work. But this isn’t the greatest problem with the book. Next time, we will look at how the truth claims of the book stack up against the claims of the Bible.

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Stop Studying the Incredibly Obvious

September 5, 2007

In the last 48 hours, three studies have come out that make me sit up and wonder “Who gives grants for these studies?”

Study #1: Shows that men prefer…(gasp) good looking women!

Study #2: Shows that lack of sleep may hurt your libido.

Study #3: Rock stars are more likely to die younger than the general population.

Look at all three of these studies: They fall into the category of the mind-numbingly obvious. I guarantee you that some Sociology majors made a fortune designing and implementing these research grants.

Here are a few I propose for the 2008 Sociology degree graduates:

1. Does watching too much television lower your IQ?
2. Do people have more stress when they have more debt?
3. Do people who know God report more peace in their lives?
4. Do most people look up and see blue sky? (Do this study in Sacramento, not Seattle btw).

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This Woman is Living the Gospel In Las Vegas!

September 4, 2007

I don’t usually reprint blog articles in their entirety…but honestly, Annie Lobert’s website makes it a little hard to find stuff.

I am speaking of the Hookers for Jesus website. She is an ex-prostitute dedicated to helping get hookers off the streets and into a relationship with Jesus, especially in Las Vegas. Her website is www.hookersforjesus.net. Check out her testimony. It is incredibly uplifting (though long).

Here is what she wrote today:

Have you ever been arrested?

I have…and many times here in Las Vegas for prostitution and soliciting. AND–I used to RUN from the police …ducking behind slot machines in the casinos, trying to “hide”! (Never worked, by the way) But what is really funny to me—one of the police officers that I used to run from was Bill Young, former sheriff of Las Vegas. We soon formed a friendship…but not an ordinary one. Here I was, an escort, not admitting I was a prostitute. And then there was Bill and David, telling me that I needed to get out of the business…because I was too smart and beautiful. They also were concerned for my safety…they did not want me to end up murdered somewhere in a hotel room.

Many nights they would arrest me…in sting operations in hotel rooms or just walking through the casinos. They told me I would be safer in jail than on the street. As much as I did not want to admit, they were right! I WAS safer in jail than out cruising around risking my life…because the life that looks and feels so glamorous doesn’t always reveal the bad part…and sometimes it’s only after you’re used and abused, or just outright DEAD! By then it is too late!!!

So how did this friendship with Bill and David start…and how is it today? Can I tell you one thing—sometimes people are put in your life for a REASON. Today, Bill Young is on my board of directors for Hooker For Jesus! How COOL it that? He has a heart to help the girls just like I do!

So, getting out of the business and finding Jesus has been the best thing that has ever happened to me! I want so much to pay God back for all the wrong that I have done, and am always looking for opportunities to do so. Now I know that doing good works will not earn my salvation….but by my faith in believing that I could make a difference and please God at the same time…this is what drove my desire!!! I really wanted to do something special for God and the women too.

So when I heard that my church (The Church At South Las Vegas) had a prison ministry…I was so excited to join it! I wanted to reach the women that were in the very jail that I was brought to when I was arrested…so I signed up for it.

When I walked into the jail…and looked into these beautiful, broken, and humble women’s faces…. my heart just BROKE. Here they were, tears flowing down their faces, and completely worshipping Jesus with ALL OF THEIR HEARTS!!! I remembered that feeling of being so alone in jail!

Then the realization and guilt hit me…because many of the things that they were “busted” for…I SHOULD HAVE BEEN! I just never got caught!

Haven’t we all somehow broken the law…and if we would have been arrested, would have served some time?

EVEN AS CHRISTIANS! Haven’t we also broken many of God’s laws, now that I mention it???

Be honest with yourself! Come on—let’s be REAL. I don’t know about you…but I could name a number of things that I have done over the years (that most of us do or have done) that I deserved “jail time” for!!!

Do we really KNOW how fortunate we ALL are? Think about it, most of us have found Jesus outside of jail….here these women are incarcerated, with no where to go!!! Didn’t Jesus SAY that we are to visit these very people WHILE they were in jail??? At their LOWEST point?

How would you feel if you were in jail and no one came to see you???

OUCH.

This made me all the more thankful for Jesus in my life…because He saved me from this jail time…and also…the JAIL of my MIND!!!

So what DOES Jesus say about people that are in jail—or people that need our help in general?

31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Well, I have been to the jail to minister a couple times now…and cannot TELL you how extremely amazing that it has been! This past week I was able to share my testimony…there were MANY women in the audience that cried the entire time I was talking. Why was this…that they would listen to my story? Because I also have spent a little time in jail—and they know that I understand how they are feeling…

Two x-prostitutes came up to me afterwards and asked me if I could help them when they got out—many of them have no where to go. One is getting out next week!!! So I am going to help them!!! These women are so PRECIOUS TO ME!!! I want to do whatever it takes to stop this cycle of abuse so these beautiful women do not end up in jail again!!!

Some of you might know about of the Prostitution Reformation Program that I am currently working on with the courts. This program will allow the women to take educational classes to inform them of the dangers and realities of prostitution, and it will be available to them in lieu of their jail time. Every woman that is arrested will have a chance to “choose” to really change her life! There will be resources available to them after every class should they want a way “out”. Yay!!!

Please pray for the women that I was able to talk with and minister to in jail. Please also pray for the two x-prostitutes wanting to really change their lives, that they will continue their relationship with Jesus and go into a healing program to finish what has started in jail…a place ironically where they had an encounter with “Jesus”.

I want to thank all of you for your support and prayers…and for the donations. You know who you are!!! The donations not only help me run my administrative part of the organization…they have also been helping many women and CHILDREN of women that are prostitutes and x-prostitutes.

Would you like to see just one example?

A few days ago I took my good friend’s (x-prostitute that is now saved) son (12 years old) shopping—because he did not have any clothes, shoes, or school supplies for school. He was so happy! I also gave as much as I could for food because his mother has a severe disability and is not working right now.

This very friend of mine (Deanna) is sold out for God and has been coming to my church for about 5 months now, and God has completely changed her life!!!

She needs her teeth pulled out, (she is in a lot of pain) she is in desperate need of ALL of her teeth being replaced with dentures! So I am hoping to do this for her as soon as I can….we both agreed that she would be a much happier person if she could talk and smile without covering her mouth! Please pray for finances to come for this very task!

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