by Dale Reeves
Recently my wife and I returned from a short visit to Arizona. On Sunday of our trip, we traveled from our resort in Flagstaff (thank you, Greg Henderson) just a short trek down the Oak Creek Canyon to a town that has become a spiritual mecca for many—Sedona. People from all over the world flock to this place because it is said to be full of very spiritual energy. Healers, artists, psychics, and spiritual guides from many backgrounds have made Sedona their home in hopes of assisting (and profiting from) those seeking spiritual enlightenment. In the uptown area of Sedona you will find all kinds of New Age shops and spas touting their brands of self-help spirituality—palm reading, tarot card reading, chakra balancing, past life regression through hypnosis, or aura photography that captures “the colors of your electromagnetic energy field” that radiates from your body. Or you can visit a bazaar and purchase up to 300 varieties of crystals that might help “inspire, heal, or keep you balanced.”
As we drove down the Red Rock Scenic Byway, marveling at God’s magnificent creation, we enjoyed finding the various red rock formations that Sedona is famous for . . . Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Rock, there’s even a Snoopy Rock! We got lost in search of an elusive photo op picturing a creek flowing over a red rock crossing in front of Cathedral Rock—but at least we got our 16,000 steps in that day!
A Spiritual Smorgasbord
In addition to seeing the spiritual wares of the shopkeepers, we passed churches of almost every kind of denomination you would expect to find—Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Unitarian, Catholic, as well as a Jewish temple. And, on this given Sunday, in silence we entered the Chapel of the Holy Cross located in the red rocks. This Catholic church was constructed in 1956. I lit a candle in honor of my mom (who is enjoying her reward in Heaven) and thanked God for the spiritual heritage she passed onto me and my family. Then, I knelt in the chapel, thanking God for the church he has called us to at Christ’s Church in Mason.
As we headed off to visit our next destination, I was struck with the thought of the spiritual smorgasbord that is available in this town. Whatever brand of spirituality one aspires to can be found in this spot on Earth. One of my friends, Lena Wood, has researched many false teachings and New Age practices and has compiled much information in her WOTNODY (“Watch Out That No One Deceives You”) Files. Lena comments, “Sedona New Age practices are an all-you-can eat buffet of sorcery, necromancy, and mumbo jumbo. It is hard to know what is just made-up silliness, and what is evil. But Sedona is full of it.”
Do You Believe in Vortexes?
One of the reasons that Sedona and other places in the world such as Machu Picchu are considered places with a high concentration of spiritual powers is because of vortexes, “centers of swirling natural energy arising from the earth.” According to Fodor’s Travel book:
“New Agers believe that there are four major vortexes in Sedona: Airport Mesa (which is said to strengthen one’s masculine side, aiding in self-confidence and focus); Cathedral Rock (which nurtures one’s feminine aspects, such as patience and kindness); Boynton Canyon (which offers a balance between the masculine and feminine); and Bell Rock (the most powerful of all, strengthening all three aspects: masculine, feminine, and balance).”
Juniper trees, which are abundant in Sedona, are said to respond to vortex energy in a way that reveals where this energy is the strongest. The stronger the energy, the more axial twist the junipers reveal in their branches.
New Age adherents believe that by meditating at these special locations, one can experience spiritual and sometimes even physical healing. I picked up a brochure from an outfit called “Sedona Spirit Journeys.” In three easy steps, they offer to take you on a spectacular vortex tour that consists of a guided journey “through the Energies of Sedona’s Red Rocks, Major and Minor Vortexes, and Sacred Lands.” You get to choose your own path among options such as “power spots, circles of energy, meditations, guidance, medicine wheel teachings, and more.” This 3-hour tour (thank you, Gilligan!) in which you can be “realigned in the Energies of Sedona’s Red Rocks” can be yours for the low, low price of only $288 for one person or $333 for two.
My wife Karen and I decided to pass on the tour since we already have the Spirit of God guiding us into all truth. The Holy Spirit has given us his revelation and is involved in our daily choices and spiritual acts of worship.
Does It Matter?
Why do I bring all of this up? Because we are living in an age when many good-intentioned and far-from-God folks are seeking any kind of help they can to alleviate the ills they see in our society and the dissatisfaction they see in their own lives. And, they are so easily deceived. When we preach that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT), we are viewed as narrow and intolerant of all other faiths. I recently watched a video that tries to tell us that every year around this time when the full moon is in Taurus, during something called Wesak Festival (which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha), The Buddha appears with Jesus Christ in a unified front. Listen to the news and you will hear words trying to move our country and our world to a one world, one faith position. These lies from the pit of Hell are espoused in the name of “unity” that we are all supposed to buy into.
Yes, it matters. The gospel of Jesus Christ must not be compromised. We must not preach “another gospel,” as our lead pastor preached from Galatians 1 this past Sunday. We must not be taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8, NIV).
God’s Word admonishes us in Romans 12:1 to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (ESV). We worship him by offering our bodies, minds, and spirits to him and him alone. We don’t need to visit a vortex in Arizona, or anywhere else, to draw near to God. We don’t have to purchase expensive crystals or pay for a spirit guide to take us to special sacred places for revelations about our personalities, our pasts, or our futures. A place isn’t sacred just because people decide it is. Anywhere we set apart time to be alone with God can be a sacred place.
Lynn Lusby Pratt, whom I worked with for many years at Standard Publishing, shares these thoughts:
“We could think of the Lord himself as our sacred space. We’re with him 24/7. We live in the ‘shelter of the Most High’ (Psalm 91); and ‘in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28).”
What’s Your Spiritual Act of Worship?
In our recent teaching series at Christ’s Church entitled, “Breaking Bad,” we’ve been talking about man-made traditions and how they can get in the way of the heart transformation Jesus wants to see happen in the lives of his disciples. The brand of spirituality that I see in the New Testament is not a buffet or cafeteria where you can pick and choose what you’d like to put on your spiritual plate. “I’ll take Jesus plus . . . throw in a few crystals, a spirit guide, some eastern mysticism, a palm reading, praying to some dead people . . . so that I can earn my way into Heaven.”
No, it doesn’t work that way. It’s really pretty simple, like the menu we ordered from at IN-N-OUT-BURGER in Phoenix. . . keep it simple, just a burger and fries and a drink—or if you’re really hungry for more of God, get the double-double with the special sauce.
Whether you grew up with a complicated, man-made brand of religion, or you are just starting out in your faith journey, can I just encourage you today to keep it simple! Jesus has already done the work for you on the cross, where he died on the top of a rock called Golgotha, and that ROCK became RED because of the crimson blood of our Savior that was shed for you and me that day.