Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Devotions: A New Oprah - Christians Beware!

In the next couple of weeks, our church will be studying a book that has been highly recommended by Oprah Winfrey. It’s called “A New Earth” and is written by Eckhart Tolle. He writes about a new evolutionary spiritual transformation that he believes will take place this century amongst enlightened people. He draws from the teachings of Christ and Buddha, as well as the theories of Carl Jung. It’s a typical new age type of book, but his hope is that it becomes sacred scripture in the years to come.

Podcast version here

I’ve read the first chapter and already I’ve come across several areas where Tolle’s teaching misinterprets Christ. He relies upon his own feelings about Jesus as a great teacher and messenger to make his points. He does not proclaim Christ as the Son of God or Lord of all creation. Tolle also avoids calling our mistakes sinful; instead he declares them to be a form of madness which, in effect, does two things: it takes away personal accountability and it discards the need for Jesus to die for our sins.

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

The book troubles me and I am sincerely sorry that Oprah has become involved and infatuated with this false teaching. It is countering Christ’s message and duping many women into believing the old heresy that salvation comes from within us.

I will be leading a ten week discussion about the book to show people where it dangerously digresses from Christian teaching, in order to help them avoid the pitfall of accepting popular superficial spirituality, as opposed to the deep meaning of Christ’s Gospel.

The discussions will take place at the church on Monday nights beginning May 5 and on Sunday mornings on May 11. I’ll also be starting a new online study class during the week of May 5 -11, so if you would like to be included, please send me an email at Put “A New Earth” in the subject line of your email.

Some people may wonder why I am tackling this. It’s because in every generation, we have to defend our faith from misconceptions, mistaken beliefs, and misleading spiritual teachers. It’s properly called Apologetics, and has been in existence ever since the New Testament was written down.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are our Holy Teacher and Sacred Guide. You are the Prophet and Messenger of the Gospel. But You are also much more than these – You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and the Only One with the words of eternal life. Keep us focused on Your ways and keep us away from false teachers and superficial celebrities, whose teachings are not Your own. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sunday Devotions: Christian Candy

I feel so guilty. I ate a whole giant bar of chocolate the other night. I should have left some for my family, but I wanted all of it for myself. I even felt a bit nauseated before I finished it off, but I knew that if I left a couple of chocolate squares in the fridge, they would be gone in the morning. So I gorged down the whole bar.

Hello, my name is John Stuart, and I’m a chocoholic.

Greed makes us all do selfish things. Take the people in Christ’s time for instance. He healed their sickness, cured their lame people, and fixed their broken bodies. He was a cure-all for each of their ailments, so when He talked about going to the other villages, they did not want Him to leave. They wanted to keep Jesus for themselves. They didn’t want to share His power with anyone. If other villages wanted a healer, they could get their own. Jesus belonged to them.

But Christ wouldn’t grant them their wishes. He had more to do with His ministry than remain home as an on demand country healer. He had to take God’s message out into the wider world. His mission was not local; it was international.

Sometimes we keep Christ all to ourselves because of the strength, confidence and guidance that He gives us. These are great personal blessings, but we’re not meant to feed on them alone. We belong to a missionary faith, so each of us has a personal calling to share the Good News and tell others about Christ. Christianity has never been a private, personal belief system that caters to our individual needs. We’re meant to share it with others by inviting them to church, praying for those in trouble, and reaching out to those in need.

Hello, my name is John Stuart and I’m a Christian. Let me tell you about Jesus, my Lord and Savior…

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we love You for loving us, guiding us, and strengthening our faith. Help us to share our experiences and beliefs with our families and friends, our neighbors and colleagues. Give us the courage to fulfill the moments of faith-sharing opportunities that You provide for us. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
Stushie writes the Presbyterian daily devotional "Heaven's Highway."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Christian Video: Blindness

Christians are very bad at pointing out other people's mistakes. This video and song that I wrote and produced tries to make us aware of our self-righteous ways. It's called "Blindness," referring to the spiritual arrogance and blindness of our church people today.

If you can't see the video player, click on this link

I'd be interested in your comments.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vote for Presbyterians Today! Tomorrow will be too late!

Hi all, something different for a Friday.

I'm one of the ten finalists in a funny caption contest. The voting ends today. All the other contestants are calling upon their friends, families & neighbors to vote for them. They also give me a lot of shtick because I'm a Presbyterian pastor amongst a group of heathens.

Could you do me a favor? Could you visit the following webpage and vote for me, Stushie?

I have to show this lot that faith is a good thing. Most of these humorists are anti-God, but a few of them have contacted me privately with problems.

Anyway, it's all in a good cause. Show them that Presbyterians have a sense of humor, too.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sunday Devotions: Dream Maker

The first time that I came across Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was through a BBC documentary that I happened to be watching one Sunday night. I was a teenager then, so it must have been about five years after his assassination. I can remember watching footage from the march on Washington and hearing his bellowing voice, which sent shivers down my spine. I had never heard anyone speak like that before and even although I was three thousand miles away in another country, the truths Dr. King expressed deeply moved my soul.

Podcast version here

I don’t know what it must have been like to have been here in America during the 1960’s. I presume that it wasn’t an easy time for anyone because of the tension and conflicts that were going on. I guess most people must have thought that the United States was going to perish, and that the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone was about to be snuffed out.

The assassin’s bullet tried to do that forty years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. What the shooter didn’t realize was that the truth cannot be killed. They tried to do it with Christ, almost two thousand years ago and that didn’t work. The ministry of Dr. King and his pursuit for the Civil Rights of all people didn’t die with him either.

Bible Verse for the Day
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

At the time of his death, I suppose many people must have doubted that King’s dream would ever be fulfilled. And yet, here we are today, in a year where there’s a strong possibility that the next President of the United States will be a black person. I think Dr. King’s dream is being fulfilled and I believe that he would be proud of what we have achieved. It may not be perfect and perhaps we still have a long way to go before racism is extinguished, but we’re in a much better place as a society than where we were forty years ago.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Dr. King’s life. Although he died too young, he dedicated his life to those of us who enjoy our freedoms today. He was both a true Christian and American that we should all aspire to become. Bless us, Lord, as we continue to follow his dream which, is in fact, what You call the Kingdom of God. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the Scottish pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send John an email at He is delighted to read your feedback and messages.