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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church

 

003white  Section 10A   The Contemporary Church     >       Shepherds or Wolves     >     Laurie Beth Jones

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Laurie-Beth-Jones
 

Laurie Beth Jones... Part I

Carol Brooks

Jesus as a leadership role model is offensive to nobody. It is Jesus as Redeemer that is the stumbling block to a dying world [Ingrid Schlueter]

  ON THIS PAGE

Introduction to Laurie Beth Jones... Best Selling Author
Her Interpretation of Biblical Texts

The “Divine Connection”... Moses and Jesus... spiritreneurs?

Ezekiel 47... Co-Creating With God

1998 Business and Consciousness Conference... Labyrinths
2008 Business and Consciousness Conference... Iyengar Yoga


PAGE II
Examining some some statements made and concepts advanced in three of Laurie Beth Jones' books... Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, Jesus In Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide To Everyday Spirituality, and JESUS, Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work in 2010. Also a Review of Laurie Beth Jones' Four [Pagan] Elements of Success by Bob DeWaay. PAGE II.

 


Introduction to Laurie Beth Jones... Best Selling Author
The so called Christian world today is awash with books by authors who, collectively, present a plethora of viewpoints, all under the banner of 'Christianity'. Since popularity is absolutely no indication of accuracy or dependability, a considerable number of these hit the "best seller" list, regardless of whether they scrupulously and faithfully reflect the Bible's teachings or not.

Described on her own site as a "Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker" [1] Laurie Beth Jones, the author of quite a few bookKB-Laurie-Beth-Joness (seventeen listed on the Good Reads site alone [2]) is one of the currently very popular authors and speakers.

According to an Amazon.com editorial, Laurie Beth Jones released Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership in 1995, the first book in a trilogy "that traces her own journey from well-pressed executive through a season of personal self-examination". The second book was The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life which is supposed to help readers identify their divine purpose in life and the third.. Jesus in Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality is supposed to help people with their everyday life.

Some of her books have been Business Week and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, and have been translated into several foreign languages, with worldwide sales of one million copies. Amazon says she is "an internationally recognized best-selling author, speaker, coach, and trainer" and states that...

    "Her business books, written from a spiritual perspective, have received global recognition for the sound, time-proven principles contained within. As a speaker and trainer, she has been invited to present to presidents of countries and companies, business teams, government and the judicial system, churches and ministries, service organizations, and educators". [3]

Additionally, she was not only a speaker on Ken Blanchard's Leadership by the Book DVD, but Blanchard has endorsed, or written the foreword to at least three of her books over a span of fourteen years

    Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership (1996)
    Teach Your Team to Fish: Using Ancient Wisdom for Inspired Teamwork (2002)
    JESUS, Career Counselor (2010)

With that number of books available and the fact that Jones has addressed churches, governments, and businesses one has to wonder which category she falls into... 1) the very small group of authors whose writing conform to Biblical teachings and are thus spiritually reliable. 2) the many whose writings are not only Biblically inaccurate, but often flatly contradict the Scriptures leading people away from salvation and life (whether they realize it or not, some of those in this category are hand in glove with occult/New Age teachings).


Interpretation of Biblical Passages

I would, however, like to draw the reader's attention to a statement made by Laurie Beth Jones in the "Author's Notes" at the end of her book Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership. She says she does not use the "exact, literal, original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic text" in the Scriptures she references, but seeks to "represent only the essence of the message". She adds that she was "reluctant to cite chapter and verse of each scripture at all, having seen so many people escalate Bible quoting into some kind of Holy War", but since her mother insisted she cite all references, she included them "so that others could study and interpret them for themselves". She also says The Jerusalem Bible is her favorite, and therefore quoted it "nine times out of ten". [Author's Notes. Page 304-305] [For More On The Jerusalem Bible See Footnote I]

I presume that by "Holy Wars" she means that people quote Scripture at each other in order to prove, often diametrically opposing viewpoints. This is certainly true. However, through it all, there is one point all of us need to bear in mind....

Although, everyone is entitled to his or her own interpretation of any and all Bible texts, not all interpretations can possibly be correct. This is simply because the meaning of every single Biblical passage was determined by the original author and, unless the original author was double minded (rendering him very unreliable and someone we can safely ignore), he would not have intended to convey more than one meaning. Therefore, "interpretation" has to be strictly limited to the meaning that the original author intended to convey, and it is our job to discover what that meaning is.

In endeavoring to do so, we have to remember that sound doctrine cannot be based on isolated proof texts, but can only be developed within the framework of the total teaching of Scripture. The Bible is an integrated whole, with but a single purpose and does not contradict nor reverse itself. As said by Ron Rhodes, founder and president of Reasoning from the Scriptures...

    Every word in the Bible is part of a sentence; every sentence is part of a paragraph; every paragraph is part of a book; and every book is part of the whole of Scripture. There is thus both an immediate and a broader context of a given verse. [See Context is Crucial]

There is nothing wrong with conveying the essence of the message, provided that there are no changes to the intent and meaning the author intended.

The wise reader of the Scriptures also understands that the Bible uses a wide variety of literary genres, which include the historical, wisdom sayings, poetry, genealogies, personal letters, rhetoric, symbolism and apocalyptic writings. The prophet Ezekiel used symbols and allegory perhaps far more frequently than any of the other Old Testament prophets. However every one of the pictures he painted fits into the overall message of the Bible... every story is part and parcel of the larger narrative.

In other words we cannot take Biblical passages, regardless of how symbolic, and interpret them to suit our own ends. They mean one thing, and one thing only, and cannot be imaginatively applied to whatever our fertile brains can conceive.


Divine Connection:
Right off the bat her own web site should give the discerning reader much food for thought. On the "About Laurie Beth Jones" page she says her personal mission is to [Emphasis Added]

    "recognize, promote, and inspire divine connection in myself and others." [4]

I had to wonder what she means by a "Divine connection", since recognition and promotion of Divinity within ourselves is the primary and underlying philosophy of the New Age movement. They believe that man is, in essence, a spiritual being and God, as an energy force, is inherently within all mankind. In other words, man and God are one. However, man has gradually become so absorbed in the material world that he has forgotten his very innate nature.. his divinity. He only has to re-discover it to become god and accomplish whatever his little heart desires. [For Details See An Overview of The New Age]

But, after reading a little more of her writing, I do not believe this is what Laurie Beth Jones is referring to. On page 227 of her book Jesus, Entrepreneur: Using Ancient Wisdom to Launch and Live Your Dreams, she explains it thus...

    When you are doing what you most love, in the presence of the people who loves and believe in you, you too can experience an incredible lightness of being - a transparency of your soul. This is the daily divine connection, which is the privilege and joy of those who allow God to flow freely through them in their work. [5]

This statement is sandwiched between the examples of Jesus and Moses, both of whom were physically transformed on mountain tops. She calls them "spiritreneurs"... a word she derived from spirit and entrepreneur. As she says

    "Webster's Dictionary defines spirit briefly as "the soul or heart, as the seat of feelings" and and entrepreneur as "a person who organizes and manages an enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk." [6]

Moses
LBJ says this about Moses' Mt. Sinai experience...

    Moses, who was said to be a friend of God, also experienced a form of transfiguration when he spent time communing with God on Mount Sinai. The result of this spiritual retreat was that "Moses came down from Mount Sinai... The skin of his face was radiant because he'd been talking to God.  Aaron and the Israelites were afraid to go near him because his skin was so radiant" (Exodus 34:29-30).  Moses, spiritreneur, was experiencing the transfiguring power of God by allowing God to flow through him as he did his work. [7]

Moses was never said to be a "friend of God", an appellation reserved for Abraham alone (See 2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8 and James 2:23). The only time the word "friend" is used in conjunction with Moses and the Lord, is when Moses used to enter the tent of meeting, whereupon the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent. The Bible says "the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend [Exodus 33:11 NASB Emphasis Added].

Although this particular issue has absolutely no spiritual consequences, the question arises as to how many other 'mistakes', that may have far more serious implications, does the rest of this book contain? Sadly the answer is "plenty".

Lets begin other aspects of this same paragraph quoted above, beginning with the question of whether or not it is true that Moses' radiance of skin was because "the transfiguring power of God" flowed through him as he worked? And, if so, why were Aaron and the Israelites not drawn to the love of God that shone through Moses, but were so afraid of him that he had to wear a veil when he spoke to them?

What we do know is that when God first commissioned Moses to go to Egypt, Moses was very concerned that he was not 'good enough'... a nobody. He therefore believed that the Egyptians were more likely to laugh, or scoff, at him than heed what he had to say [Exodus 3:11]. As said by Bob Deffinbaugh

    Even after God assured him that men would hear him, because "I Am" was with him and had sent him (Exodus 3:12-15), Moses still feared that he would not be taken seriously (Exodus 4:1). Therefore God gave Moses three very impressive "credentials." The first was a staff that turned to a deadly, venomous serpent (4:2-5). The second was the ability to cause his hand to turn leprous, and then to restore it (4:6-7). The third was the ability to pour out water from the Nile, which turned to blood (4:8-9).

    Moses, however, was not convinced that these credentials were enough. He feared that because he was not eloquent in speech he would not be taken seriously. God then gave Moses Aaron his brother as a spokesman, and also the plagues which would be poured out upon Egypt. [8]

However, while Moses' obviously supernatural signs were impressive enough to cause the Pharaoh to (however reluctantly) release the Israelites, the Jews themselves seemed to be an even harder nut to crack than the Egyptian king. Exodus 32 tells us the entire nation knew when Moses went up to the top of the mountain to meet with God (Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up only part of the way (Exodus 24: 9-14)) especially since there were impressive physical signs that no one could have missed... A cloud covered Mt Sinai for six days and  "the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top." [See Exodus 24:16-18]. Yet, before Moses even came down from Sinai the people had persuaded Aaron to fashion a golden calf for them which they proceeded to worship.

Not only did Moses smash the stone tablets and the golden calf, but three thousand people died that day. In fact, it took a great deal of mediation on Moses' part before the Lord agreed not to destroy the entire nation and start again with Moses [Exodus 32]. God then, through Moses, renewed the covenant with Israel which they had managed to break even before it was put into effect. He called Moses up on the mountain again... this time he was to go up alone. No man nor beast was to be seen anywhere on the slopes [Exodus 34:1-3]. It is well to note that this covenant was focused, not on past miracles, but on the ones God was about to perform which would allow the Israelites to take possession of the promised land.

    Then God said, "Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. [Exodus 34:10 NASB]

However, very probably in light of the whole golden calf treachery, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the Israelites not making for themselves any molten images, or any covenant with the inhabitants of the land. They were, instead, to tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and [Exodus 34:11-17].

And so Moses came down from the mountain for a second time. But this time he was given another "credential". He came down from the mountain with a physically visible radiant face, which was a reflection of the Glory of God that He had spent forty days with. Therefore, when he commanded the Israelites "to do everything that the LORD had spoken to him on Mount Sinai" [Exodus 34:32], the people were very aware that God was speaking to them through Moses.. His face being a very poignant reminder not to take lightly anything Moses said to them. In the past, the people were afraid and wanted to keep their distance from God (See Exodus 20:18-20), but now, that Moses' face reflected God's glory they did not want to get close to him (See Exodus 34:30).

Note too that the radiance of Moses' face had great significance, being one of the many parallels between him and Jesus. [See The Great Messianic Prophecy of Moses]


Jesus
And here is what Laurie Beth Jones says about Jesus' transfiguration

    But after becoming a spiritreneur, I'm if beginning to think that perhaps Jesus experienced transfiguration at that particular moment because he was doing what he most loved - conversing with Moses and Elijah, two prophets he had long studied, and being in the presence of co-workers he loved.

To begin with, Matthew tells us that when Jesus was transfigured "His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light" [Matthew 17:2]. Like Moses, there was a visible physical transformation. However, while Moses reflected the glory of God, Jesus' transformation was but a foretaste of the Jesus we can expect to see when He returns in all His glory to claim His throne.

    and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. [Revelation 1:13-16 NASB]

    And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. [Revelation 22:5 NASB]

"His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light" not because He was "conversing with Moses and Elijah" as LBJ says, but to show His disciples who He was, and what His true form was.

However, what is very important to note is that, in both cases, the emphasis was on obeying the one whose face shone. Moses commanded the Israelites "to do everything that the LORD had spoken to him on Mount Sinai" [Exodus 34:32], and God, speaking from a "bright cloud" commanded the disciples to listen to Jesus, saying "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" [Matthew 17:5 NASB] Both Moses and Jesus were certainly messengers of God's love shown by the fact that as Moses led His people to the promised land, Jesus does so now. But there was also a very clear warning to listen to them.... punishment for not doing so very severe.

Certainly all Christians should, as far as possible, demonstrate God's love to the world. If Laurie Beth Jones wishes to do so, I suppose she is entitled to coin phrases like "spiritreneur". , but she completely skews Moses and Jesus' visible and physical transformations in the effort to prove that God flows freely through you in your work, when you are doing what you most love, in the presence of the people who love and believe in you

It is both profane and completely contemptuous to use the Bible to suit your own ends.

But she doesn't stop there...


Ezekiel 47... Co-Creating With God
On the same page on her web site where LBJ mentions inspiring divine connection in herself and others, she also says

    While I do specialize in teaching and creating practical, memorable applications of universal truths, I have this deep and a profound vision to embrace each person that makes their way here to this community. To see Ezekiel 47 lived out through each life that becomes part of this community or those who take the richness of these tools into the 7 Pillars of Society to engage others in their own transformation, both at home and in the workplace. [4]

Ezekiel 47 seems to be a favorite theme, mentioned in other places. On The Path Leader blog, Laurie Beth Jones refers to Jesus, Career Counselor and says...

    For your career is not only about how high, or wide, or deep your work is, but most importantly, what bubbles up from inside it — from inside you.

    In Ezekiel 47 we are given a life changing vision of a man encountering a heavenly being who tells him to measure a steam that is flowing from underneath the altar. As the two continue their dialogue the stream turns into a river, and the river flows into a sea. And all along the river are trees bearing fruit for food and leaves for healing. There are fish of every kind swimming in the river, and fishermen making a living on both sides of it. And perhaps most beautifully of all "everything will live where the river goes.” I have prayed that my career would be like that. In order for that to happen, the stream must start under the altar, which is a dedicated place of worship and communion with God. [9]

The section in Jesus, Career Counselor that she is referring to, quotes Ezekiel 47:1-12, then says [Emphasis Added]

    Imagine this scripture passage as a picture of your career.... You were put here to be a blessing and to be creative and to help co-create with God. Imagine what it would feel like if you, like the water in Ezekiel 47, made everything come alive, just by touching it. Imagine what it would be like to have created a river so deep and wide that people couldn't even cross it- that it was full of a variety of "living creatures": projects, ideas, contributions. That fishermen on both sides of the river banks made a living from it. Imagine-your ideas and projects and inspiration creating a source of income for others. And your ideas were do consecrated unto the Lord that on either side of the river were trees bearing "fruit... for food and ..leaves for healing." Doesn't this sound like an incredible life's work? [10]

(An "incredible life's work" to me is pointing as many people as possible towards not standing before the judgment seat of God and not being sentenced to death, but having people realize that they too can live for all eternity in a life that we can, for the present, only dream about. But then.. that's me).

The question is whether this interpretation of Ezekiel 47 is legitimate. While we might wish our lives to be very fruitful and a blessing to as many people as possible, LBJ goes much further than this, saying we are here to "help co-create with God" and that she has a vision to see "see Ezekiel 47 lived out through each life..."

As I said in the introduction... every single Biblical passage was determined by the original author and "interpretation" has to be strictly limited to the meaning the original author intended to convey. In other words we cannot take Biblical passages, regardless of how symbolic and interpret them to suit our own ends. They mean one thing, and one thing only, and cannot be imaginatively applied to whatever our fertile brains can conceive.

The prophet Ezekiel's symbolism was no different... Every one of the pictures he painted fits into the overall message of the Bible. Bearing this in mind we have to realize that the significance of Ezekiel 47 is far more important and serious than being a "picture of your career".

So how should we read this chapter written by the ancient prophet?

We have to allow the Bible to interpret its own symbols... water in this case. Most Christians are, or should be, aware that water has tremendous spiritual significance in the Scriptures. It is a metaphor for salvation, simply because water is life, just as salvation is. Note the following few examples drawn from a very vast pool (no pun intended).

    How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. [Psalms 1:1-4 NASB]

    They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. [Psalms 36:8 NASB]

    "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation." Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. [Isaiah 12:2-3 NASB]

    "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. [Isaiah 55:1 NASB]

    "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water. [Jeremiah 2:13 NASB]

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. "For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit... O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD.  [Jeremiah 17:7-8, 13 NASB]

    Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39 NASB]

The waters in Ezekiel 47 are a description of the grace of God that gives life to the creatures in these waters and causes trees to flourish on each bank. And the only think that gives us permanent life is the Gospel. As Psalm 1 says (above) a person whose delight is in the law of the LORD "will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water".

Note: Although many scholars believe that Ezekiel 47:1-12 is millennial.... a description of the thousand year reign of Christ, I beg to disagree on three points.

    a) When Ezekiel wrote that "everything will live where the river goes" and living creatures which swarm "in every place where the river goes"  [Vs. 9], he could only be referring to the Gospel and the salvation of Christ, who Himself said "but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." [John 4:14 NASB]

    b) Ezekiel also wrote "many fishermen will stand beside it (the river); from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets". This again refers to the preaching of the Gospel, easily seen from our Lord's words to Peter and Andrew... "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." [Matthew 4:19].

    c) The prophet also said... "But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. [Ezekiel 47:11 NASB]. There will be no swamps and marshes in the millennium kingdom. Only in the here and now where people have rejected the Gospel....

However, note that there is no question that, just as there was a river flowing "out of Eden to water the garden"  [Genesis 2:10], in God's kingdom, there will be a river that of life giving water that will spring up, not from the ground, but from the throne of God and the Lamb. Therefore, Ezekiel 47, undoubtedly, has some application to the coming world...

    There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. [Psalms 46:4 NASB]. Verses 8-9 make it very clear that this is a post apocalyptic scenario

    Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, Dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, And strangers will pass through it no more. And in that day The mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD To water the valley of Shittim. [Joel 3:17-18 NASB]

    for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." [Revelation 7:17 NASB]

    Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [Revelation 22:1-2 NASB]


"Well done, good and faithful servant"
Jones goes on to say

    And, frankly, your career will someday end, but then you will meet Christ at the altar. Will you then hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant"? If so, your life's work will have been a success. [11]

Lets take a brief look at the context in which Jesus used the above quoted praise ("Well done, good and faithful servant").  In the parable of the talents, Jesus told the story of a master who gave his servants some money (the talent was a measurement of money) to use while he was away. He gave the first servant five talents, the second two, and the third just one talent. When the master returned from his journey, he found that the servant with the five talents had earned an additional five, and the servant who was given two talents had, similarly, doubled what he had been given. It is at this point that the master told each of these servants, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21-23).

Laurie Beth Jones has tied these words to successful career that flows like Ezekiel's river, with fishermen on both banks reaping the benefits. However, the question is what Christ was praising the "good" (diligent and fruitful) servants for. This paragraph by Bob Deffinbaugh, sums up the the essential meaning of the parable...

    Just as a businessman expects to make a profit, and rejoices when his employees increase his wealth, so God expects a profit and rejoices in it. He has granted the time and the resources for men to make a profit for the kingdom of heaven, until He returns. The question for us to consider is this: Just how do we measure "spiritual profit"? This is probably a sermon in itself – perhaps even a book. I think we could all agree that the salvation of lost souls is a profit for the kingdom.

He goes on to say

    And so it is that those who over time work with what they are entrusted, in order to make a profit for their master, are rewarded for their faithfulness. Those who are unfaithful lose not only their reward, but their stewardship.... God expects a profit, and He holds us accountable for what we have done with what He has entrusted to us. Pressing this matter just a little further, if the church were to be considered a business and every member were to be viewed as an employee, how many of us should reasonably expect to "keep our jobs"? Each one of us needs to ask the question, " Just what is it that I am doing that is kingdom work?" "Just what is it that I am doing for Christ and His kingdom that is "profitable"? This is a sobering question. [12]

Note: I have spent a great deal of time on LBJ's application of Ezekiel 47, and the fact that she ties Christ's potential words of praise to a fruitful career. The latter is especially dangerous because His words will have nothing to do with our business life, but how profitable we are to the coming kingdom.  In any case, a person cannot use the praises and obvious rewards given the profitable servants, but ignore the fate of the servant who buried his talent and did not bear fruit. As verse 30 says, he was called an "unprofitable servant" "cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth").

The problem with the unprofitable servant was not a lack of faith in in the master, but that he did not bear fruit for his master. In the same way, those who claim to be disciples of Jesus, but do not bear fruit for the kingdom, will also be rejected by God.

Note that exactly the same principle underlies the parable of the fruitful and unfruitful servants and the parable of the sower who sowed seed on different types of soil. In brief, the latter says that seeds that fell by the road were eaten by birds, those on rocky soil did not have enough of a root system to survive, etc. It was only the seeds that fell on good soil that yielded a crop. [Matthew 13:3-11]. We know the parables are related because our Lord ended both with the same words...

    "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. [Matthew 13:12 NASB]

    "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. [Matthew 25:29 NASB]


1998 Business and Consciousness Conference... Labyrinths
Laurie was a featured speaker at the 1998 International Conference on Business and Consciousness. The two topics she spoke on were "Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership" and "Defining Your Personal Mission Statement" [13]. While I am not familiar with most of the other presenters at this conference, two names stand out...

Gay Hendricks, author of The Corporate Mystic and executive producer of the feature film, Conversations with God spoke on The Corporate Mystic: An Introduction to the Quantum Coaching System. Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations With God is a well known New Age leader

Barbara Marx Hubbard's presentations were entitled Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential and The Path of The CoCreator: Bringing Spirituality into Action. Christian apologist, Warren Smith, tells us this about Hubbard

    Barbara Marx Hubbard writes that in 1966 she heard an "inner voice" that came in response to a question she had asked aloud and directed to God — "What is our story? What in our age is comparable to the birth of Christ?" Over the coming months the "Christ voice" gave her more information and insight about the vision she had in 1966 and more first-hand detail about what will one day be taking place in the world. Hubbard understood that it was her mission to continue telling the story of humanity's "birth."

    Since 1966, Hubbard has fulfilled her commission from "Christ" to tell his New Age/New Gospel story. From NASA to the former USSR to the United Nations, she has spoken to thousands of people and hundreds of groups and organizations about the "planetary birth experience" she had been shown in her vision. In the process, she has become a respected "world citizen," known and loved by many for her insights about "God" and "Christ" and the future of humanity.

    Hubbard and "Christ" "rewrite" the Bible's Book of Revelation. In The Revelation,  Hubbard's "Christ" provides specific instructions on how a united humanity, purposefully partnering with God, can literally re-create the future. This "Christ" teaches that the "violent" Armageddon script described in the Bible does not have to happen, that it is only a "possible" future, emphasizing that a more "positive" future can and will manifest when humanity, without exception, openly declares its "oneness" with him and all creation. This positive scenario and the means to attaining it is called "the alternative to Armageddon." [14]

See more about Barbara Marx Hubbard HERE and HERE

However, it doesn't take much digging to investigate the spiritual views of some of the other presenters at the same conference. For example...

Sat Nirmal Khalsa and Avtar Hari Khalsa spoke on "The KIIT Corporate Model of Spirituality and Success in Business" [13]

Avtar Hari Khalsa, President and CEO of Intuitive Century Enterprises, Inc., is on the Sikh Dharma (religion) Worldwide Board of Directors. A short write up on him on the Sikh Dharma Worldwide web site includes the following.. [Emphasis Added]

    Since 2000 Avtar Hari Singh has focused his professional energies in the non-profit arena. Most recently he was CEO of 3HO Foundation, a secular educational 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1969. 3HO is dedicated to fostering personal inner peace by teaching a healthy, happy and holy lifestyle. It accomplishes this mission through its worldwide network of yoga centers and certified Kundalini Yoga instructors and through its International Peace Prayer Day event and global peace efforts. [15]

So what is Kundalini?

    In Hindu tradition the goddess Shakti, the energy giving power behind all creation takes many forms, including being the consort of the god Shiva.. the destroyer. Kundalini has been described as a concentrated form of prana or life force (associated with the goddess Shakti), lying dormant in our bodies, conceptualized as a coiled up serpent awaiting unfoldment (In Sanskrit kundalini is literally that which is coiled). This force, or Shakti, lies coiled at or in the sacrum, a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine.

    The goddess Kundalini is said to awaken and unfold each chakra as she ascends through the spine, ensuring the free flow of life energy (prana or qi) throughout the body, thus balancing the chakras and promoting general health and well-being. When she has risen to the crown chakra, located at the top of the skull and associated with elevated spiritual consciousness, then all chakras have been opened and a person is said to experience enlightenment.  The goddess is also said to unite with the Shiva, or the male polarity when she arises to the crown chakra.

    The 'awakening' of the Kundalini brings about an expanded states of consciousness and can be achieved through three main practices, the most effective of which are meditation and yogic postures such as those taught in Hatha Yoga, or a guru or spiritual teacher conferring the spiritual "power" or awakening, often by means of a touch to the forehead. [Read More About Kundalini

And ...

Neil Douglas-Klotz Sufi Founder of the worldwide network of the Dances of Universal Peace and co-chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion spoke on "Body and Spirit at Work". Klotz is featured on the web site of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, which says he founded the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace (now based in Seattle, WA) in 1982 [16]

The Dances of Universal Peace are a group of simple dances to live music. The focus of each dance is in the singing of a particular sacred phrase or phrases, inspired by many spiritual, religious and mystic traditions from around the world. They were begun by "a visionary mystic, teacher" Murshid Sam, who was a "disciple of the great Indian Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan" and "a recognized Zen roshi and a student of Jewish and Christian mysticism". [17]

Dances are held  at the Keystone Church in Seattle every Wednesday evening.     

What kind of church would host dances, "which are set to sacred texts and mantras of the world's spiritual traditions"?  I guess one that doesn't mention Jesus Christ anywhere on their site, but says they are "...a place where the open table at weekly Eucharist actually means that the abundance of God is for absolutely everyone. [18]

But I fear I am getting slightly off track and need to return to...


Laurie Beth Jones, Labyrinths and Jesus in Blue Jeans
Judi Neal, associate professor of management and Director of the Center for Spirit at Work at the University of New Haven who attended the above mentioned 1998 Business and Consciousness Conference and heard LBJ speak, mentioned that one of the things she really enjoyed doing during the conference was walk the labyrinth. In her words...

    This is a beautiful meditative practice, and if you have never done it I encourage you to find the opportunity to try it. I found myself moving into beautiful states of altered consciousness there and this stayed with me throughout the rest of the conference. [19]

There was, apparently, a labyrinth at the conference, something that LBJ could hardly have missed. But then again, she probably didn't.

The April 04 Lead Like Jesus Celebration was hosted by Ken Blanchard and Rick Warren and featured "special guests" Bill Hybels, Rosey Grier and Laurie Beth Jones among others. According to a transcript posted by a church in Birmingham Alabama, she touted walking the labyrinth as "an incredible experience" during her time to train leaders to "lead like Jesus" [20].

While I can not personally verify the above information, it is quite clear that Laurie Beth Jones endorses the practice. In her book Jesus in Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality, she says "Many of us are wandering through life with questions, not realizing there is an answering place", and then gives several example of people in the Bible supposedly going to an "answering place"..

    "When Jesus was wrestling with the question of his upcoming crucifixion, he went into the garden to pray. He went to the answering place.

    David often went up into the hills, "from whence his help came." He went to his answering place.

    Moses went into the hills to receive his instructions from God. He often "talked to God face to face," and asked him many questions. When he was given specifications on how to construct the tabernacle, he was told, "See that you make all these things according to the pattern that you saw on the mountain." Exodus 25:40. It was in the answering place that Moses received his directions.

Jones compares labyrinths with these examples of Biblical "answering places"...

    .. "Because the labyrinth is devoted solely to meditation and reflection, it is "an answering place". [Pg. 146]

... adding that during the labyrinth walk the person is

    "asked to shed her resentments... a gradual shedding of fears, asking for courage, shedding of anger, and asking for reconciliation, until at the end of the walk the person is said to emerge more clear about her direction. [Pg. 149]

Sometimes when confronted with drivel by the truckload, I am often at a loss as to where to start. In this case, the obvious place seems to be the so called "answering place".

Jones says "David often went up into the hills, "from whence his help came." He went to his answering place". This comes from Psalm 121, the first verse of which reads "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? It says absolutely nothing about him going to the mountains, just that he looked to them. And why would he do that? Simply because mountains have some significance in the Scriptures... the "holy mountain" of the Lord often mentioned by the prophets [See Other Examples]. David did not go to any "answering place" but was looking to the God of Israel for help. The very next verse makes it perfectly clear that his help did, indeed, come from the Lord Himself.... "My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth" [Emphasis added].

Moses went up to Sinai because God Himself alighted on the mountain and instructed Moses to come up there and receive the law.

Jesus, "wrestling with the question of his upcoming crucifixion" did not have to go to the garden of Gethsemane to commune with His Father but since, so much of His ministry took place on the Mount of Olives, it seems perfectly natural that it was here that He would spend His final hours in prayer.

We do not need to go to a place but to our God for answers, as Laurie Beth Jones would know had she bothered to read Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman, when He de-emphasized the importance placed on location.

    The woman *said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus *said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. [John 4:19-23 NASB]

Jones also speaks well of Dr. Lauren Artress, canon at Grace Cathedral who has "devoted herself full-time to a ministry that encourages the construction of labyrinths in public places around the world. [21].

So what's wrong with the Labyrinth? Only this... touted as a medieval tool for the Postmodern Age, it originated with pagan spirituality, was directly imported from a Cathedral where the focus of worship is the Black Madonna, and was introduced to the western church by a Den of Vipers called Grace Cathedral. Yet, discernment being at such an all time low, thousands of Christians are embracing this age-old occult practice. [See Walking The Labyrinth]


2008 Business and Consciousness Conference... Iyengar Yoga
Laurie was, once again, a featured speaker at the Ninth International Conference on Business and Consciousness (The Future of Business) held in January 2008, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Every morning of the four day conference started with a 45 minute session of Iyengar Yoga, conducted by Gail Ackerman. [22]

Iyengar Yoga was named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. According to the Yoga Journal "The huge popularity of yoga in the West can in large part be attributed to Mr. Iyengar, who first introduced his style of yoga to the United States several decades ago. Many of his innovations are standard features today" [23]. In fact Iyengar was so popular that, in 2004, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. His own site says [Emphasis Added]

    Yogacharya B.K.S.Iyengar (Guruji) is a living legend who has taught yoga in unique way to all his students. He finds the meaning of the yoga sutras by his practical search and regular practice of yoga. Thus, he has helped all to experience the wisdom of the yoga sutras. [24]

So what is Iyengar Yoga? Stick with me for a minute...

    Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, which are 196 Indian sutras, or aphorisms, that constitute the foundational text of Yoga. An aphorism is a tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion, while aphoristic collections are sometimes known as wisdom literature.

    Patańjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books, two of which are particularly interesting in the context of this article.

    Samadhi Pada (51 sutras). Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. Samadhi is the main technique the yogin learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya.

    Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras). Kaivalya literally means "isolation", but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation, liberation and used interchangeably with moksha (liberation), which is the goal of Yoga.

Since in Indian religions, human life is seen as bondage to a repeated process of rebirth, moksha the liberation from samsara, the endless cycle of death and rebirth, thus ending all suffering involved in this cycle. In summary, the final goal of Iyengar Yoga is to achieve liberation from reincarnation... the most basic and fundamental concept of Hinduism and Buddhism.

(What to me is particularly fascinating (in a very negative way) is the fact that no one knows who Patanjali was. While some believe Patańjali lived in the second century BCE, others claim that Patańjali is an incarnation of the mythical serpent Ananta).


Continue on To Part II. Here
An examination of some some statements made and concepts advanced in three of Laurie Beth Jones' books... Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, Jesus In Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide To Everyday Spirituality, and JESUS, Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work in 2010.

Also a Review of Laurie Beth Jones' Four [Pagan] Elements of Success by Bob DeWaay

 

Footnote I
Gleason Leonard Archer... Biblical scholar, theologian, educator and author, says this about the Jerusalem Bible

    In its twentieth-century garb does the Jerusalem Bible offer to the public a reliable rendering of the original Hebrew Scriptures as they have been transmitted to the church? Unfortunately no. To an even greater extent than was true in the RSV there has been careless, inconsistent, capricious handling of the text of the original. Instead of confining themselves to an accurate rendering of the received text of the Masoretic Hebrew Bible, as amended on the basis of the ancient versions under careful controls of scientific textual criticism, the translators have allowed subjective considerations to have free rein. The interpreter’s conception of what the ancient author ought to have said permits him to substitute entirely different Hebrew words for those of the Masoretic Text, even where such a change finds no support whatever in either the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Targums, the Syriac Peshitto, the Old Latin, or the Vulgate. Such inventions of the translator are usually footnoted as “correction,” but quite often they are not.

    In conclusion we may describe this ambitious work as attractive in format, vigorous in expression, often felicitous and vital in its wording. But its cavalier treatment of the Received Text renders it unsafe for doctrinal study or biblical exposition. It often translates an original text which never existed except in the imagination of the translation committee.

Note Gleason Archer was awarded a PhD at Harvard University in Classics and, in 1945, received his Bachelor of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary where he studied Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. [See Full Review]
 [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote II
The law was given on Mt Sinai

    The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. [Exodus 19:20 NASB]

Jacob sacrificed on a mountain

    Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal; and they ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain. [Genesis 31:54 NASB]

as did Abraham

    He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." [Genesis 22:2 NASB]

Elijah called down fire from Heaven on Mt Carmel [1 Kings 18]

The "holy mountain" of the Lord was often mentioned by the prophets

    Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. [Isaiah 2:2 NASB]

    "For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel," declares the Lord GOD, "there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land; there I will accept them and there I will seek your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things. [Ezekiel 20:40 NASB]

Jesus often taught and spent the night on the Mount of Olives

    Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. [Luke 21:37 NASB]

    When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. [Matthew 5:1 NASB]

He was transfigured on a mountain

    Six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. [Matthew 17:1-2 NASB]

Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified is a hill resembling a skullcap located very near to a gate into Jerusalem.

    And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. [Matthew 27:33-35 NASB]

After  His resurrection, ascended to Heaven from Mt. Olivet (he Mount of Olives)

    And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. [Acts 1:9-12 NASB]

And, on His return He will first set His feet on the same mountain

    In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. [Zechariah 14:4 NASB]

And will be joined by the 144, 000 on Mt. Zion.

    Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. [Revelation 14:1 NASB] [PLACE IN TEXT]

 

End Notes

[1] http://www.lauriebethjones.com/about/

[2] http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/22086.Laurie_Beth_Jones?utf8=%E2%9C%93&sort=original_publication_year

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Beth-Jones/e/B000AP9F2E/ref=la_B000AP9F2E_st?qid=1380813444&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB000AP9F2E&sort=daterank

[4] About Laurie Beth Jones. http://www.lauriebethjones.com/about/

[5] Laurie Beth Jones. Jesus, Entrepreneur: Using Ancient Wisdom to Launch and Live Your Dreams. Crown Business; Reprint edition (June 25, 2002) Page 227

[6] ibid. Page 13

[7] ibid. Page 227

[8] Bob Deffinbaugh. A New Beginning (Exodus 34:10-35) https://bible.org/seriespage/new-beginning-exodus-3410-35

[9] Laurie Beth Jones. The Path Leader blog. Light Pouring From You.
http://thepathleader.wordpress.com/category/books-by-laurie-beth-jones/

[10] Laurie Beth Jones. JESUS, Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work. Howard Books; 1St Edition edition
(May 4, 2010) Pages 120-121

[11] ibid.

[12] Bob Deffinbaugh. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28)
https://bible.org/seriespage/parable-talents-matthew-2514-30-luke-1912-28

[13] The 1998 International Conference on Business and Consciousness. http://www.bizspirit.com/PDF/audio_bus98.pdf

[14] Warren B. Smith. Barbara Marx Hubbard: Her New Age Christ's Selection Process, by
http://www.mountainstreampress.org/barbara-marx-hubbard-her-new-age-christs-selection-process/]
Also See http://www.crossroad.to/Books/TwistofFaith/5-Give.html#hubbard

[15] Sikh Dharma Worldwide. Sikh Dharma Worldwide Board of Directors.SS Avtar Hari Singh Khalsa.
http://www.sikhdharmaworldwide.org/about/board

[16] http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/teachers/teachers.php?id=241

[17] Seattle Dances of Universal Peace. http://www.seattledup.org/

[18] http://www.keystoneseattle.org/

[19] Judi Neal. Report from the Field: The 1998 Conference on Business and Consciousness.
http://www.bizspirit.com/bsj/archive/articles/jneal1.html

[20] Lead Like Jesus Celebration, The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Alabama, November 20, 2003. Transcript posted at
http://www.gprxnow.com/bonuses/BlanchardLeadLikeJesus.pdf, p. 38. URL is now obsolete.

[21] Laurie Beth Jones. Jesus in Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality. Hyperion; First Edition edition (September 2, 1998). Pgs. 149-150

[22] http://www.bizspirit.com/business/Business08Archive/b_schedule.html

[23] Yoga Journal. Light on Iyengar. http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/1843

[24] Our Guruji. http://www.bksiyengar.com/modules/Guruji/guru.htm

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