Through the Narrow: Where Is Your Fear Of The Lord? – By Tami Dykes

Where Is Your Fear Of The Lord?    

Do you have any fear of the Lord? I can tell you according to Scriptures God says we should fear Him. This is a problem for many people. Many don’t think it’s right to fear the Lord because why would a loving God bring fear to their children?   

Fear of the Lord is something different than just being scared of Him or fearing for your life or feeling terror…it’s having respect and reverence for Him as our Lord.  I love Him and respect Him and I know He is a just God and He rewards and punishes those He loves and having fear of the Lord is right and holy and it’s fear that keeps me humble and keeps me seeking Him. Hebrews 12:28–29~ Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.   

Another verse Proverbs 1:7~ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.   

I have joy and peace in the Lord and when I sin there is a degree of separation from God for a time that I fear. I instantly know I’ve stepped out of His will that has protected me and I feel the separation of his presence. Isaiah 59:2~ But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.   

It brings shame, guilt and I can even feel nauseous. He knows what I’ve done or didn’t do, said, thought, or felt that brings me so much sadness. The separation hurts because you know He can’t be with you when you are in sin and all you feel is regret and disappointment in your own self. Then as always, Scriptures remind you of how loving and forgiving God is because He offers repentance. God will not leave or forsake Christians that do sin. We experience separation from our Lord as a form of discipline to grow us. Those that don’t believe in God don’t have a fear of Him or His judgment which only leads to the worst separation of all, the eternal separation from God. 
   

People that read the Bible, attend a Biblical church, and bear the name Christian should have no excuse to not fear the Lord. In my last article, I spoke on how short life is and where people may spend eternity. I spoke of several that were shown mercy by God and saved such as the blind man and the thief on the cross. Both were able to understand their need for forgiveness and salvation when they met Jesus and didn’t reject Him. However, there are people that claim to be Christians and believers in Christ that write books and hold studies and even serve as Pastors that live without fear of the Lord. They teach others a false God and blaspheme His character and tag God’s name on teachings that are NOT Biblical at all. These teachings are done without having fear of the Lord or the fear of consequence in any way for going against God. They don’t seem to be worried about the false teachings they spout that God never taught. They didn’t seem to show any concern that they put more faith in their own feelings than the truth in what God actually tells us in the Scriptures.    

The deaths of a well know man and woman come to mind with this subject. The first one is Billy Graham. He died on February 21, 2018, at the age of 99. He seemed to have changed his belief from his younger years as one that believed the only way to heaven was through Jesus, compared to his later years of believing there were many ways to heaven. In an interview with ‘Robert Schuller, Graham is asked, “What’s the future of Christianity”.  Graham says, “The body of Christ that comes from all the Christian groups from around the world or outside the Christian groups from around the World I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ whether they are conscious of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. And that is what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their heart they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.    

       

Ok, lots to unpack here. If people can be saved without knowing God or knowing the Gospel then why does God tell us to go out into the world to find those that “don’t know God” and preach the gospel? Graham believed people who are outside the Biblical Christian groups are saved, meaning they are not Christian and are non-believers. This doesn’t sound like the Gospel of Christ as written in the Scriptures. Let Scriptures reveal the truth to you, read Matthew 7:21-23 where we are told not everyone who calls on Him will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. They are to know God’s will, which means they need to know God. In Mark 16:15-16, we are commanded togo into the entire world and preach the gospel to everyone,“He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” This clearly points out you can’t be an unbeliever and be saved.  It’s just not going to happen. John 14:6~“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 1 Corinthians 1:17~ “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”       

These verses explain why people can NOT find their way to God in any other way except through knowing and believing in Jesus Christ. We cannot be Muslim, or Buddhist, or a non-believer and still, be saved. How can a non-believer be of the body of Christ if they don’t believe in Jesus?  If a person is truly saved, they would only claim to be a believer in Christ. Remember, “He who does not believe will be condemned.”Graham’s words and God’s words contradict each other.       

Graham says that They may not even know the name of Jesus so they turn to the only light they have and will be in heaven.”    

Ok, so let’s think about this…How can we believe in something we don’t believe in? How can you love or even know something you are not conscious of? How can we be aware of something we aren’t aware of? How can we know something we didn’t know? Scriptures even tell us in Romans 10:14~ “How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? Good question! We all know that Graham was a preacher but he wasn’t saying what people needed to hear. Graham should have been bold and said that if they don’t know Jesus and are a non-believer or practicing Buddhists, or Muslims then they are not saved. All kinds of false religions say they believe in God but their god is not the God of the Bible. You can’t go to heaven believing in a different God like the god of Buddha or the god of the Muslims or the god of “Everyone can get to heaven without believing in Jesus” god.     

In Deuteronomy 6:14 and Jeremiah 25:6 we are warned not to go after other gods.Isaiah 44:6 says “besides me, there is no god.” With Graham being a pastor it’s very strange that he credits a “light” to salvation when he says, “they turn to the only light they have.” Salvation is through Jesus, not through having a light. If they are turning to the only light they have yet it’s not from Jesus, then it’s not of God, and if it’s not of God, it’s not the true light they need. Their light is counterfeit and weak. I might also add that Satan is “LIGHT” too! 2 Corinthians 11:14~And no wonder, for Satan himself, masquerades as an angel of light.”      

In another interview, Larry King asks Billy if God loves Satan, all he said was, “Well, he created him as Lucifer. In the 22nd of Ezekiel, it tells us about it, and he must love him, but the end of Satan is hell. Hell was created for the devil and his angels, or his demons, not for men.” Then King asked if he thought homosexuality is a sin. Graham says he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Then King says, “If homosexuality isn’t a choice, it can’t be a sin. Right?” Graham says, “Well, maybe. God will make that judgment, not me. I’m not deciding who’s a sinner and who is not.” King says, “How about abortion?” Graham says, “Same thing.” King asks him if he is against it totally and Graham says, “yes but I won’t get involved in it.” King asks if he believes it’s the taking of a life and Graham says yes, he does. King says, “But to protect the life of a mother you would permit it, right? I think you said that.” Graham says,“Oh, yes.”     

(you can find both links to these interviews at bottom of this article)    

       

With Graham being a preacher, his job is to warn the sheep of dangers and keep them safe. Doesn’t that mean for him to warn when something is sin and that Jesus is the ONLY way? Anyone that teaches the Word of God needs to be careful in handling God’s Word, and be very respectful of it, don’t you think?  As Christians, we should know what sin is yet every time King asks Graham if something was a sin Graham never just says, yes, it’s a sin. He just gave what appears to be his opinion on things and then tells the viewers that God judges, not him and that he’s not deciding who’s a sinner and who is not. He had a platform in which to speak the truth and point people to Christ but doesn’t. Oh, I understand his fear, I’ve been there and it’s not easy. I’ve upset many but you do it anyway. We either have a fear of man or we have a fear of God. Obviously, Graham had more of a fear of man because he doesn’t speak the truth. Graham makes the statement that Christians don’t judge. So, how are we to discern God’s commands if we are not allowed to judge sin or discern right from wrong? Having discernment means knowing right from wrong according to the law of God. If God says not to commit adultery, to keep the marriage bed pure, do not murder then to do any of that as a Christian or preacher or pastor means to know it’s a sin. Graham should have exposed the sin and said, yes, homosexuality is a sin, yes abortion is murder and murder is sin. Graham taught that he doesn’t judge sin and everyone goes to heaven. What’s troubling is Graham did teach some good things so it makes him look good but then turned around and contradicted God’s own Scriptures. When Graham says “God must love Satan because God made him” makes light of Satan. Satan is evil, why would God love evil? He doesn’t. Psalm 11:5The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.   

Psalm 5:5~  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.   

There is a perfect answer to this simple question with the following link below, “No, God does not love Satan, and neither should we. God cannot love that which is evil and unholy, and Satan embodies all of that. He is the enemy (1 Peter 5:8); the evil one (Matthew 6:13); the father of lies and a murderer (John 8:44); the accuser of God’s people (Revelation 12:10); the tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5); proud, wicked and violent (Isaiah 14:12-15); a deceiver (Acts 13:10); a schemer (Ephesians 6:11); a thief (Luke 8:12); and many more evil things. He is, in fact, everything that God hates. The heart of Satan is fixed and confirmed in his hatred of God, his judgment is final, and his destruction is sure. Revelation 20 describes God’s future plan for Satan, and love for Satan has no part in it.”   

https://www.gotquestions.org/does-God-love-Satan.html

There is a very popular yet unbiblical saying that goes around in the Christian community, “God loves the sinner and hates the sin”. Although that seems loving for a God to love, love, and love some more and love everyone even if you live in sin, it’s just not biblical. We need to understand that it’s the sinner that is thrown into Hell, not the sin.   

Sadly, Graham is still leading people astray today with those videos and interviews even though he is gone. Where was Graham’s fear of the Lord? Saying those things should have convicted him instantaneously. I noticed when King asked a question about a certain sin; Graham never truly addressed it or called it sin or quotes Scriptures of what God says about it. He just gently reminds the viewers that God forgives whatever sin you have. Nothing is said about them needing to repent and ask for forgiveness. Many will see it as they don’t need to repent because God loves the sinner and automatically forgive us.   

Next, the woman I referred to is Rachel Held Evans, she died May 4, 2019, at the age of 37, and left behind a husband and two children. She died so young and so suddenly it was a shock to many people. She wrote books, had blogs and many believed in her teachings to be good. None of that is wrong until you look at what it was she actually taught. Long story short, she taught that God is not a ‘dude’ (her words) and has referred to God as a woman and mother at different times. She supports LGBTQ causes and contradicts what God says women’s roles are in the church and denies and rejects the authority of God’s Word and teachings.         

For more information on RHE, Michelle Lesley provides info below with attached links as well.  https://michellelesley.com/2016/10/10/the-mailbag-do-you-recommend-these-teachersauthors-volume-2/       

I know many believe that talking ill of the dead is wrong and disrespectful but I say it’s downright evil to speak ill of the Lord and make Him out to be something He’s not. Rachel has disrespected God and His teachings in the things she has said about Him. It’s out of respect for God and His Truth that I speak of her false teachings because we should not hold our tongue when it comes to exposing lies and sharing the truth of the Scriptures. According to God, we are to warn of false teachings and that’s more important than respecting someone’s death. I’m sure people could say she was a nice person but the deception and poison she taught to the thousands of her followers are very concerning and wrong. What is more concerning for her is if she never repented of them, God will hold her responsible for every careless word she spoke and taught. Matthew 12:35–37~“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, son the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”       

I knew nothing of Rachel until a few days after she died. I saw pictures of her posted on Facebook by several different people and became curious about who she was and why so many were posting about her. I discovered many things about her beliefs but it was an article by Pastor Gabriel Hughes that shocked me most and showed where she stood just weeks before she died. I was disheartened by the deadly teachings she spewed just shortly before her last breath. She defended her beliefs in her comments to the very end of her write-up to Pastor Gabriel which was concerning a video he made titled, “Is God a Woman?”, below       

Gabriel says, “Though I will never have another opportunity to address Rachel, what she taught continues to damage the souls of countless thousands of people, and will do so for many more years. What I had prepared to say to her, I say now for the sake of those misled by her teaching.”       

Below is Pastor Gabriel article; http://pastorgabehughes.blogspot.com/2019/06/remembering-and-responding-to-rachel.html       

Her beliefs were so disturbing but my heart truly hurts for her. I found it surprising that not knowing anything of her before; I would now suddenly find my heart so sad concerning her. I then started thinking of those who are still being fed her books and teachings. Sadly, and unfortunately, there is no more we can do for Rachel. No one can try to reach out to her and help her see her unbiblical ways; no one can help her know the truth of who God is. It’s too late. What time we Christians do have should be to fight for the faith, to fight for the Truth. Her very last act as a living, breathing human being was to take that dark stand and completely destroy the truth of who God is, and then suddenly, just 3 short days after that she became seriously ill and put into the hospital with the flu and infection. She died about 3 weeks later. No one knows if she could have been aware enough to even repent of all that. She could have, but no one knows. Even if she did repent, she left behind teachings that many will still be hurt by today and will cause some to doubt God for years to come. Rachel Held Evans is described as a progressive Christian author but I don’t think of her as a Christian because she taught a different God and a different Bible and she had no fear of the Lord even up to her last posts with Pastor Gabriel.    

Links to Billy Graham’s interviews below.       

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/16/lkl.01.html       



Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford

Through the Narrow: What About the IF Gathering Part 2 – By Gina Cook

In my last article I warned about the 2021 IF:Gathering that was soon coming up.  I went off of what I already knew about the speakers.  Here is the link: https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2021/03/02/through-the-narrow-what-about-the-ifgathering-part-i-by-gina-cook/ 

After the IF:Gathering concluded and while they had most of their videos free to watch I sat and listened to as much as I could. I’m going to share what I heard from most of the speakers and briefly explain why it’s good, bad or ugly. 

The speakers I’ll be covering to some degree or another are Jackie Hill Perry, Christine Caine, Joni Eareckson Tada, Francis Chan, Lysa Terkeurst, Rebekah Lyons, Mike Todd, Anne Voskamp, Bianca Olthoff, Dr. Anita Phillips, Dr. Curt Thompson, Isabella Garza, Latasha Morrison, David Platt, Jennie Allen, and Eugene Cho.   

Some of these speakers are not as well-known as the others but after watching them I can imagine the lesser-knowns could become more known and followed, sadly.  I want to warn about them just as equally as the others for this reason.  I want to also clarify that I’m not necessarily going to cover the speakers in the order they spoke.  Also, I was not able to watch the entire conference because the breakout sessions were not free to watch.  I also didn’t watch every minute that was available because I simply ran out of time before it was offline. I tried to focus on what seemed the most concerning and in need of explaning. 

I’ll warn you now, this will be longer than my other articles

That is because there is so much to address and I honestly will still only be scratching the surface.  If you are short on time, feel free to scroll down and find a specific teacher/speaker that you are particularly interested in knowing more on as far as their message at IF:Gathering.  I hope you find the time to read the whole thing only to help you better understand the larger and more dangerous picture of IF:Gathering.   

I believe what was the most disturbing for me was the fact that there were some very good things said, especially the first day (No coincidence I’m sure.  That’s all a part of the design).  This may sound strange to some.  Why is “good” disturbing to me?  It’s because I’d rather the poison be more unveiled.  I’d rather it not be masked with goodness and beauty.   I don’t want the less discerning lured into the spiritual woods to get beat half to death with hellish lies before they may or may not escape.  As we already know from Scripture, Satan loves to portray himself as an angel of light, just as his workers do.  Satan rarely starts off looking like a monster. 

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 

The two speakers who seemed to display the most biblical accuracy, the best masks, were Jackie Hill Perry and Christine Caine. 

Jackie Hill Perry 

When most didn’t open their Bible and only flailed it around while expressing squishy opinions of the SJW types, Jackie opened it and read it.  Not only did she read it she went deeper than others with the Scripture.  She had some accurate things to say especially on God’s holiness, explaining it meant He is transcendent and separate from anything or anyone else.  She also accurately talks about how we are to be holy.  However, she focused on a few confusing ideas about God and how we come to know Him or want to know Him.  She states that when we see His beauty it’s “then we want to know Him, love Him, trust Him” and out of that comes the fruit.  It seems she has a different idea of what it means to know the Lord than what we are taught in Scripture. I can see where she could mean “knowing” as trusting Him more with everything in our walk yet there wasn’t enough clarity given. 

Even though she happened to mention repentance and taking up one’s cross earlier in her presentation, she landed the message on knowing Him because we first see His beauty and want to behold Him.   

To know God is to know Christ and to know Christ is to be saved.  “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  John 17:3 

Only at salvation can we say we know the Lord and only with our new spiritual eyes and new birth can we behold Him and His beauty, His mercy, and loving-kindness towards us, knowing He has forgiven us through His atoning work on the cross and His resurrection.   

God doesn’t necessarily look beautiful to us at first or in our times of repentance. When a the repentant sinner is confronted with the Holy God there is not this mere observing of His beauty and all the more positive attributes but instead contriteness before the Great I AM. 

I was surprised she didn’t go more into the social justice talk being she is so vocal about it elsewhere.  From what I heard, she wasn’t entirely that bad.  Again, I wasn’t able to watch the entire conference.  There may have been other times she spoke that I couldn’t see.  If not, if she didn’t say anything way off in any other part of the conference then this is where it concerns me.  Again, that may sound strange but I say it’s a concern because people will listen to her message at IF and be convinced she’s safe enough to follow when in reality she is dancing with dangerous teachings/teachers often. 

Here is a video I found of her message at IF:Gathering 

Christine Caine 

Like Jackie, Christine gave some deep biblical truths.  She talked about the death and resurrection of Christ and repentance.  She talked on His return.  She gave a touching testimony of the time she was in another country where they were dying for their faith and she felt she had nothing to give to them as they already were living so devotedly for Christ, willing and expecting to die for His name’s sake.  She stressed how we also need to give our lives to Him.  I was sitting there thinking, wow this is going to sell to a lot of people, understandably so.  I can almost hear the masses of ladies saying, “Well there you go, she may have some differing views than us on some spiritual things but she loves Jesus so passionately, therefore she’s a Christian.”  The problem is, she mixed a whole lot of poison with that big healthy glass of Truth.  

For starters, she was sitting there with Jennie Allen talking about how she was the one who helped catapult the beginning of IF:Gathering.  When Jennie was having manifestations from “God” about “disciplining a nation”, apparently it was Christine that helped explain and encourage that message from “God” to Jennie and helped her understand that IF Gathering is “part of the preparation for an end-time harvest.”  Christine pointed to the audience and said, “You can thank me later.”  So very humble of her to say (insert sarcasm).   

Later there were comments about seeing signs, wonders, and miracles happening now.  The online conference, according to Caine, was a miracle.  She saw it as a miracle because it reached so many women for Jesus.  She said it’s a revival.  Sorry, but that is not the definition of a miracle or a picture of a revival.  Salvation in Christ is a miracle, yes, but the tool to supposedly bring the Gospel is not the miracle.  I’m not the miracle if I share the Gospel of Christ with someone and they become saved from that encounter with God’s Truth.   Also, these women have absolutely no idea of any revival that could come from this conference.  They are in the middle of it at the time this is said and do not know the majority of those watching and how they are responding.  It’s a classic trick from the old bag that holds no truth or fact yet makes many wondrous claims.   

Caine also says she believes healing/racial reconciliation will happen.  Being Jesus is coming back it makes her want to fight for racial reconciliation more than ever, as well as, human trafficking.  

There’s so much wrong to unpack there.  First off, there’s that expected dose of woke we thought would be there at IF:Gathering.  It’s the thing IF is best at- social justice rhetoric.  Instead of Christ’s return being fuel for reflecting on our own walk and for the furthering of the Gospel for all of the lost, somehow for Christine she mostly thinks of racial issues and human trafficking.  Those are not bad things to be concerned about yet it’s a very strange focus to have when talking about Christ’s return, especially when we consider the culture’s direction these days.  It’s interesting that she starts out sharing how those people in the other country were dying for Christ and wanting to know how to share the Gospel with their executioner, but then switches it to talking about racial issues.  She did later make a small reference to sharing the Gospel, but social issues were front and center. When the Gospel is heard and one repents and trusts in Christ, all sins are dealt with and forgiven.  We don’t pick out a few sins as the main focus in our preaching the Gospel or in our urgency before Christ’s return.  

More truth was sprinkled in, more focus on dying for Christ, His death, resurrection and ascension, and so forth, but the big ol’ plop of poison came at the end when she started talking about circles.  Yeah, that’s right, drawing a circle and getting in it to come before ‘Jesus”.  If you don’t already know, this is a pagan practice that has been practiced and taught by a few professing Christian teachers/authors.  Pricilla Shirer is one of them.  You can read more on the danger of this belief and practice here: Through the Narrow: People Honor Me with Their Lips – By Tami Dykes – Tulips & Honey (wordpress.com) 

There was such a lack of discernment and obvious contradictions with Caine and her message.  She was obviously trying to appease all ears but in the end revealed where her heart really is, which is more in herself than it is in the true Jesus. 

Joni Ereckson Tada 

Joni’s involvement with IF:Gathering was a surprise for many, including myself.  She has been an encouragement for many solid believers and preachers as she has shared her walk with Christ through severe disabilities.  She has expressed relatively solid doctrinal beliefs in prior years.  Yet, as with all the speakers at IF:Gathering, there was truth mixed with error, sadly. 

In a pre-recording Joni was talking with Katherine Wolf- another woman who is in a wheelchair and who has been disabled for a long time.   

They start off alright when speaking about the “wheelchairs” of life- the thorns in our sides.  They talk of stewarding our sufferings and not wasting them.  Joni talked about not kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14) which she explained as the sufferings and hardships (Not quite the context of that verse – it more so speaks on kicking against God and not wanting to submit to Him although I believe she was on the right track saying not to kick against what God wants to do in our lives).  She said to not grumble but rather give thanks (Philippians 2), and to “fake it till you make it.”  It wasn’t deep, exegetical teachings or too focused on Scripture, but it wasn’t necessarily false teaching or unhelpful.   

Then comes the part where Joni dropped the ball in my opinion.  Instead of focusing on the Lord’s written and more sure Word, we get instead a conversation Joni had with God while she was sick with COVID-19.  Joni said she kept hearing Jesus say, “Joni, would you trust me?  Whether it means calling you home or having you remain on earth to do my work would you believe that I am your ever-present help in this?  Would you believe I am not going to leave you or forsake you?  Would you please believe in even this – it is going to work for your good?  Would you trust me Joni?”   

She never clarified whether or not this was audible, a feeling, or just something she thought God was impressing on her heart as she pondered His Word.  It was made to sound like He was constantly telling her this.  We must be very careful assigning words to God.  When we put words in His mouth, even if it sounds biblical, we are in grave sin.  It’s best to say “God said” when we are reading God’s Word. 

She said her answer to God was “God I don’t think I can do this but You think I can.  Where else will I turn, you have the Words of Life so yes I’m going to believe you and I’m going to start mouthing that thankfulness and trust you’re going to give me courage and endurance and patience and perseverance,” 

She ended with, “And He did.”  She also quoted 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” 

Her answer to God troubled me.  “You think I can.”  Even though she later says she trusts God to give her courage, endurance, patience, and perseverance, which is good, she doesn’t correct her previous statement to clarify that it’s not actually God thinking we can do something as if He is cheering us on saying, “you can do it!”  He wants us to lean on Him in faith, to obey Him, and know He must increase while we decrease.  We are to exercise great humility.  Christ is everything, we are mere vessels. 

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 

People have asked where the proof is that Joni holds to a social justice mindset.  Being a speaker at IF:Gathering, something so bent on social justice, could be convincing enough but here is one of her quotes from another conversation she had: “God is truly on the side of those who work for social justice, especially when we accompany that work with the giving of the Gospel!” (Joni Eareckson Tada on Wilberforce Award, ‘Better Off Dead Than Disabled’ Mentality – The Christian Post

I believe she is focused on social justice regarding disabilities, such as the persecution, discrimination, and oppression of those disabled all over the world. The problem is we don’t define any justice as social justice and that’s because God doesn’t.  There is one justice in God’s eyes.  Although Joni will speak of it as simply “justice” she will at times call it “social justice.”  Her stand on social justice for the disabled, along with “hearing from God”, fits well in the narrative of IF:Gathering.  Although Joni has been used by God in giving attention to the horrors done to the weak and disabled and she has shared the truth of God, we must be careful not to possibly follow her into the deep bushes of social justice and personal revelation and therefore further away from the simplicity of the Gospel and biblical justice.  I pray for her discernment; to distance herself from those of IF:Gathering and the false justice they stand for. 

  

Francis Chan 

I didn’t need to see Francis speak at IF in order to know whether or not he was wading in the muck, but I was again reminded of his ill-directed focus as he talked with Jennie Allen at the conference.  He again discussed the so-called miracles he was a part of in Myanmar, in actual faith healer style.  He claims he had touched kids and they were healed.  You can check out his explanation of it here when it first came out: https://disrn.com/news/every-person-i-touched-was-healed-francis-chan-says-he-supernaturally-healed-numerous-people-in-myanmar 

In his discussion with Jennie, he again said that deaf kids were healed.  He also said that swollen eye pain was healed.  Interestingly enough, there was a sequence to this “healing” that we don’t see in Scripture.  He explained that the first time he prayed and touched those with swollen eyes the pain was healed but the eye was still swollen and red.  Then he decided to do it again.  After the second time, the swelling went down a little.  Third times the charm right?  Well, after the third time swelling went away further but still had red marks on the eye.  At that time he says, “I’m going to try and get rid of that too.”  Ahhh so HE is going to get rid of that?  The healing is from Francis?  He didn’t ever say the fourth time worked, instead, he became very vague, especially on all the other miracles that he supposedly did, saying “whatever they are.”  That is not what we read when reading about authentic miracles in Scripture.  They were complete and instant and definitely not clouded. There was no actual healing done with the sentiment, “ok, let me try again.” 

Chan said that he prayed to God He would authenticate His message (the Gospel that was supposedly shared during this time) with these miracles.   

God does not need these “miracles” to further authenticate the Word already authenticated, written, and canonized.  Being there is no longer anything to add to Scripture and there are no longer Apostles of Christ, authentication is not needed. It’s done.  Francis said the miracles caused these people to believe in the message.  That is not true.  First of all, if someone doesn’t believe the Word there is no other miracle that can convince him or her (Luke 16:28-31).  Secondly, Francis is not to be authenticated as a messenger of God when Francis believes that Catholicism is Christian and is simply a label for some believers (here are videos on Chan’s ecumenism and seeking false unity: Francis Chan: Keynote (pt1) // Catholic Ecumenical Track – Bing video Francis Chan: Foot washing (pt2) // Catholic Ecumenical Track – Bing video Is Francis Chan A Roman Catholic? – Bing video  ) and when he is partnering with and encouraging some of the most notorious false teachers there are (listen here: Too Wretched For Radio 08/19/2019 – Wretched ) 

I encourage you to read more on why modern faith healing and believing the need for modern miracles to authenticate Gospel preaching is wrong, here: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-60/does-god-still-heal  

Again, no open Bible in Chan and Allen’s discussion, just Bible flailing. 

Lysa Terkeurst 

The time I heard Lysa speak was when she was in a group discussion.  It was alongside Rebekah Lyons and Annie F. Downs.  She talked about forgiveness. But before you think it must have been a good thing, she made sure to turn forgiveness upside down and inside out.  She talked about how the heart is too beautiful of a place for bitterness, anger, rage, slander, brawling.  She talked about coping mechanisms for pain and knowing how to “care well” for the intense emotion we feel.  She said we shouldn’t deny our feelings.  Yes, she actually said that. 

Her point in all of it is was as victims our feelings are not to be denied.  A victim’s heart is beautiful so keep it that way by forgiving those who hurt us- don’t fill it with anger, rage etc.  Yes, forgiveness is good but biblical forgiveness was not ever the focus with Lysa.  No Bible was opened and nothing biblically solid was taught.  Obviously, it’s unbiblical to say our hearts are beautiful and that we shouldn’t deny our intense emotions/feelings.   

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9 

“And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. “ Mark 8:34 

Does God care about our suffering?  Yes.  Does He want us to turn the other cheek and forgive seventy times seven?  Yes. 

Forgiveness in her eyes was all about healing hurts and ending our own suffering.  Even though those things can come from forgiveness, we also must understand we forgive because God forgave us of far greater debt.  We are undeserving of forgiveness yet we received it anyway.  To not forgive someone who has sinned against us angers God.  Our impossible debt was paid by Him but us not forgiving others of far less, that is sin. See Matthew 18:21-35  

Rebekah Lyons 

Ah, rhythmic living.  “Daily rhythms” is something I was introduced to a few years back when our old church was studying material from one of the leaders/pastors of the Soma family of churches. It was explained to mean routines.  It was unclear to us at the time why we just couldn’t say routine and move on.  Yet as my husband and I looked into it further we noticed it is meant to change meanings and teachings.  For example, Rebekah Lyons (in a conversation with Lysa and Annie) at this years IF:Gathering spoke much about rhythms (as well as others).  Different rhythms were mentioned, such as “confession rhythms”, “restore rhythms” and “connect rhythms”.  She said, “Rhythmic living is inviting God into those secret places.”   

First off, do we invite God?  He can’t come in when He wants and He isn’t already aware of our secret places?  She also said we should have sustainable daily rhythms that help us to “be more in tune with our own heart.  Then we can release something to God that He can speak to.”  So, we need to be more in tune with our heart…. a heart that is more deceitful than all else and desperately sick?  I don’t think so.  We release things to God so that He then can speak to it? Hasn’t He already spoken in His Word?   

Most phrases coming out of her mouth were new age, nonsensical fluff.   

“Rhythms” was said so.many.times.  Scripture was mentioned once and not in the proper context of course. 

How about we read our Bible, Rebekah, and let God speak to our heart and reveal our sin?  How about looking to His Word, not our heart for truth?  No?  Too biblical? Okey dokey. 

Mike Todd 

Mike is someone I hadn’t heard of before but after watching him at the conference it was apparent to me he is a charismatic, fun-loving, and intelligent.  He has great speaking skills and is very engaging.  He is an author and lead pastor of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma man who has gone through tough things in life.  I wish I could like what he said because it seemed he had a passion for living for God in a more meaningful way and tried to bring in a lot of Scripture.  Sadly, his presentation was riddled with personal revelations from God/prophetic claims and false teachings. 

He had talked of what God told him, claiming God said, “This is the year that we’re not drifting.  This is the year we are going deep.  I want you to write this point down because it’s not safer in the shallow.”   

This is New Age mysticism and is dangerous, false, and actually done in the occult/pagan circles.  God isn’t giving any more revelation that needs to be written down.  Sarah Young found great success and wealth doing this with her book, “Jesus Calling.”  It was NOT the true Jesus who was talking to her and it’s not God talking to Mike Todd.  See more on why here: 

Blog Post – That’s Not Jesus Calling (gty.org) 

10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling | Tim Challies 

Mike also stated that as he was talking he sensed “someone’s heart is crying out like David’s heart- as I am speaking someone’s heart is ready to leap.”  Such a vague and worthless statement but meant to give his message relevance and importance.  This is a common tactic in many false teacher’s messages.  They hear from God, they claim they are given a revelation about particular listeners yet it’s always vague, no specifics, and no real proof it’s God.  I saw Mike’s book sitting there at Hobby Lobby the other day.  Bypass his book and just go straight to the décor, please. 

Ann Voskamp 

She made sure to tell us she is done with simply believing in Jesus.  She said, “I’m done with that life.” 

She explained that life turned out to be “cuttingly hollow and empty and frankly, not enough.”  After the last year of trials (2020), she lands on this: “I live in Jesus.”  She points to the closed Bible and says, “All I’ve got is this.”  Her bible remained closed. 

She said we need to be followers, not believers.  She said Jesus isn’t a belief to her, He is breath to her.  He isn’t some theory, He is gravity.  He isn’t a lens for her life but is her life.  He is not some sphere of a multi-dimensional life- He’s atmosphere, terra (means land), lung, and the way to not suffocate in self.   

Ugh, where do I start!?   

First of all, I agree that we do not want to only believe in Jesus but rather we should want to live as if He is our all in all; our life.  However, we would never say that simply believing in Him is wrong or that He/the Word isn’t the belief we have.  Yes, he’s more than just Whom we believe in but He is still Whom we believe in.  

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”  Romans 10:9-10 

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 

Also, I agree that all we really have is His Word.  It’s the power of God for salvation.  It’s the lamp to our feet and light for our path.  Read Psalm 119 and it becomes clear real quick that The Word of God is all the Psalmist desires and holds to.  Instead of actually focusing on the Scripture, which Voskamp says is all she’s got, she goes into gobbledygook that does not sound like God’s Word at all.  

Christ said He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as well as, the bread of life and living water.  Voskamp says Jesus is atmosphere, gravity, land, lung/breath, and a way not to suffocate.   This type of mumbo jumbo is nothing new with Voskamp. She loves to use poetic and inappropriate language when talking about God, instead of using His own words about Himself.  Apparently, His Word is not “all” to her. 

She spoke of an apostate who lost his faith because he didn’t enjoy God.  She said a lack of joy or enthusiasm for God reveals a lack of belief in God.  At that point I’m like, wait, I thought we were trying to get away from the word “belief”?  Then instead of going on a good track with this train, she derailed and said, “There’s the hope only found in deeply inhaling the atmosphere of love Himself.  The overflowing reality of the Trinity.  And this is what it means to enjoy being alive.  Breathe Him in.”  No, that’s not it sister.  That’s closer to the language of mystics than the Word.  How in the world does a lady listen to this and know how to “deeply inhale the atmosphere of love” and then proceed to grow in Christ?  It’s not helpful and it’s not biblical. 

Our joy is found in the Lord of our salvation.  We were saved from His wrath and given new life and eternal hope.  I agree, if you have no joy in the Lord of your salvation you are probably not saved but joy isn’t going to come by breathing in some Atmospheric Gravity Terra God, whatever that means.  Repent and believe in Christ Jesus as Lord. 

David Platt 

How sad it is when someone seems to have a legit grasp and solid stand on the Gospel; to have a heart for Truth but then goes into the cultural clouds and loses their touch with reality.  That’s what David Platt did.   

Platt is another one of those who loves to talk about miracles and then drifts off into an awkward and vague place because there is really no proof or biblical alignment for the miraculous claims he loves to talk about. 

He starts off talking about village people praying over a dead man’s body shortly before the body coughed and sat up.  He says this “allowed” the whole Gospel- people came to faith then.  A little later on he admits the dead man may have not been really dead- no way to know for sure.  Ah, so an undocumented and uncertain miracle “allowed” the Gospel to be heard and only then could these people come to faith?  This is mysticism and worthless babble.  Give me the truth, give me the proven and written WORD of God, not this soppy wet mess. 

Don’t get me wrong, Platt mentions the Word but as others at IF had done, there was very little accurate explanation or application of Scripture.  Platt told his sisters in Christ that God put them where they are to bring light and save lives.  They are to share the great news because they are the light of the world.  Yet, he doesn’t explain the “great news.”  He says we are to rise up and be light and ask God’s light to come upon us, through His Word.  Any woman of any church background could listen to this type of message and say “amen.”  Sadly his message severely lacked what many really need to hear, solid and clear truth.   

Isabella Garza, Dr. Anita Phillips, and Dr. Curt Thompson 

All three were in a group discussion with Jennie Allen who was asking the questions.  They were at one point asked if they would sum up in one word the biggest problem we are facing now.  Curt said “shame”, Anita said “trauma” and Isabella said “identity.”   

Those are the biggest problems?  

To social justice warriors who are disconnected from Scripture or from the reality of what the world really needs, yeah I can see those being the biggest issues to them.  How about problems like the softening of sin, discernment, or lack of Gospel literacy?  Perhaps maybe the problem of preaching a different gospel such as the social gospel? 

Curt needs to remember verses like 2 Thessalonians 3:14 when talking against shame, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person so as not to associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 

Or 1 Corinthians 15:44, “Sober up morally and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 

Shame isn’t the enemy, sin is.  Shame isn’t always bad.  It’s a tool God uses to restore us to a right relationship with Him. 

Isabella further explained the problem of “identity” being we need to know identity in Christ.  That’s great because it’s true but there was no clarification from the Word on what our identity is exactly.  In fact, “community” was the emphasis of her statements on identity.  Again socially-focused instead of biblically focused. 

Anita picked “trauma” saying, “Anything that has changed your view of yourself or God for the worse is trauma.”  So if someone was to tell me I’m a sinner or wrong and therefore making me look more negatively towards myself than before, have I just been a victim of trauma?  Can I consider myself traumatized?  I remember reading the Old Testament as an unbeliever and seeing God being worse than I did before.  The one Christian in my life refused to try and remedy that for me, thankfully.  Aren’t we supposed to see ourselves and God as He says and change our viewpoint to be more like His, even if it stings or makes us feel worse or see ourselves in a worse light?  The problem with modern “Christianese” is we are too focused on feeling loved and reassured instead of being holy and loving others more than ourselves.  Jesus said this regarding His disciples who may expect special honor or rewards for doing what they should do: “So you too, when you do all the things which were commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” Luke 17:10.  We are unworthy. 

With her and the other speakers, things were kept so vague you could come up with literally anything you wanted out of what they said and rightfully not be challenged on it.   

In another segment, Anita really went deep in “Wokeville” when she talked of racial blindness and Christians persecuting other Christians (no examples given of this, just presented as being fact without facts).  She said white Christians can be blind to having the capacity to persecute.  She talked of “black woundedness.”  Sadly she doesn’t seem to understand that blacks are just as much a sinner as whites and just as capable of being a persecutor.   

Again, no facts were presented just an obscure and ever so popular narrative.    

Bianca Olthoff 

Oh this poor woman has so much energy and passion and so little discernment.  It was painful to watch. 

She starts off by saying, “I can only teach out of personal experiences.”  Yikes.  I don’t think that is the direction we want to go when we are at a “Christian” conference and supposedly trying to learn more about God and how to live for Him.  Yet in the charismatic/new age world of professing Christians, this makes perfect sense.  They must believe what someone said God said to them or what dream they had from God.  When speaking from a social justice perspective, they must believe personal injustices are happening without any facts to back it up.   It’s feelings before facts.  It’s a personal narrative before the Word of God. 

Bianca talked a lot on Scripture yet injected us into the biblical accounts.  Eisegesis was her distinctive talent.  For example, when talking about Daniel 3:18 she talked of “getting thrown into the fiery furnaces of life.”  She said we have all been in situations like this (fiery furnace).   

Really?  I’m pretty sure I haven’t experienced anything like that.  

She explained that when “fire” is mentioned in Scripture it means two things; lives are transformed radically and the presence of God is revealed.  Scripture verses were not mentioned in order to back these two ideas up.  If she knew Scripture and read about when “fire” is mentioned she would know that fire usually symbolizes judgment (Isaiah 66:15, Joel 2:30, Amos 1 & 2, Malachi 3, Luke 3:9, Luke 3:16, Luke 12:49)  It also symbolizes purging or purifying. Fire is purifying to believers and it’s consuming to unbelievers.  Those truths were never mentioned in her message on fire.  Instead, she focused on the furnace in Daniel and made it about “furnaces of life.” 

She asked, “Who are you listening to?”  Yeah, good question Bianca, who are you listening to?  She said that we shouldn’t let anyone rename us, especially the enemy.  She said, “I refuse to let the enemy call me, “Mrs. Doesn’t Have What It Takes” or “Mrs. Humiliation Awaits Her.”  She continued with, “I know who I am – I am a prophetic declarer over God’s people.”  No, Bianca.  You don’t have what it takes.  Christ is Who has what it takes. 

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Bianca needs to be reminded that we all need to be humble, to have humility in our hearts.  It sounds like the thing she would like to await her is pride.  Humility is not the enemy and if Bianca thinks the enemy wants her to experience humility then perhaps God is her enemy?  

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  Matthew 23:12 

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,” 1 Peter 5:6 

Bianca is no more a prophetic declarer over God’s people than Satan himself.  I don’t mean that to say she is Satan but what she is teaching and claiming is not of God and yet she most definitely claims it is.  She mixes truth with error, just as the real enemy does so well and desires her to do. 

Jennie Allen 

She is the founder of IF:Gathering.  Throughout this conference she was asking the questions in several discussions.  She would say the prayers many times and give the topics to discuss.  A few things I heard from her to add to our concerns about Jennie: 

She would mention repentance but then go into a direction about social justice.   She talked about how her inbox is flooded with hate mail asking “why are you doing this (regarding social injustice narratives)?”  She just didn’t understand why others would not think this to be a good thing. 

She was very vague, of course, and although at times seemed to be going in a more biblical direction with her speech, she would soon veer off into mystical and fluffy language or into the social justice narrative.  Most times she would just throw a morsel out there for others to go further with. 

Latasha Morrison 

She is known for radical woke directives, such as having a whole group of white students at Campus Crusade (CRU) stand up and lament their white privilege. (See here: CRU Speaker Has Stadium of White People Get Up and Lament Their Skin Color (reformationcharlotte.org)

For a while now she has called for reconciliation- not in Christ’s Name but in the name of the social justice “god”. 

During IF:Gathering she says, “Pray for them (racist whites)”.  Although she says blacks shouldn’t have hard-hearts and should have a posture of humility, she doesn’t address the sins of all colors and the forgiveness of all sins.  The Gospel is the answer for sinful hearts and lifestyles yet God’s truth is not allowed by her to take center stage.   

Matt Chandler  

During a group discussion with Jennie Allen, Dr. Anita Phillips and Latasha Morrison, Matt went on a delusional woke tantrum, talking about those who don’t want to listen (those against the social justice agenda), who create these categories such as “Marxist” and “Critical Race Theory” and are infested by worldly thinking. He called them fools and explained “if calling sin sin is Marxism to you then I will walk away from you because you aren’t trying to understand; you aren’t submitting to the word of God.  If you want to go “Ahhh he’s woke” as if that’s a bad thing then I don’t know how to have a conversation with you – you certainly don’t love me.”  He had more to say that was just awful and needless. 

This is some of the most twisted and emotional talk I had heard during this conference.  Leave it to Mr. Chandler.  

First off Chandler is endorsing a movement that needs no facts, that elevates bitterness, fails to talk about forgiveness, ignores personal responsibility and has nothing to show for it but more bitterness, labels and division.  And those against this “conversation” are the ones who don’t love him?  He’s making this about love and about him?  And he is the one that is understanding and not about categories?  Secondly, Marxism and Critical Race Theory are exactly what he is pushing; he knows it and those in his camp even admit it.  He can at least have the decency to reject the lukewarm cesspool he is wading in and just openly admit he is not for the Gospel truth- for the love and forgiveness of Christ but only for the saving of his own face as cultural pressures progressively force him to publically choose a side. 

I recently read on Twitter a quote by Thomas Sowell:  

“The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything – and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’”  

Chandler is one of those slathering it on everything because the cool kids are too.  Mark and avoid them. 

  

Eugene Cho 

He starts of redefining what the whole Gospel is – it’s now evangelism AND justice.  He says we must pursue and embody both to be serious disciples of Christ.  It would seem evangelism to him is just focusing on the love of God and that evangelism hasn’t ever been about giving the whole truth of what God has done for sinners.   

He is a mighty Scripture twister.  He accuses the Church of extracting justice out of God’s character and called it an agenda (umm no, the true Church knows all about biblical justice and God’s hatred of all sin and destruction of sinners who don’t repent and trust in Christ alone.  Those speaking at IF:Gathering were the actual extractors who hold to an agenda).  He says he understands it to be “complex, messy and challenging” but Scripture is clear in Isaiah 61:8 and Micah 6:8.  Of course these passages are not saying what he and all the woke “church” want them to say. They aren’t about social justice, they are about what God loves and what are heart issues not social causes that divide.   

The twisting continued as he spoke on identity, racism, marginalizing, etc.  He had the audacity to say the Samaritan woman may have been a victim, regarding having too many relationships, due to the men’s sins.  

Seriously? Jesus didn’t think to blame the men in front of her, not even the woman said it was the men’s fault, so why is Cho blaming the men?  Jesus provided truth and salvation to HER.  He forgave HER sins.  She says in John 4:29, ““Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is He?”” 

Cho avoided real biblical accountability for the supposed marginalized.  It was a horrible message through and through. 

To Wrap It Up 

I don’t know how this version of “Christianity”, the kind IF:Gathering founder and speakers peddle, survives much longer with how the world is going.  They talked a lot in this conference about how to survive difficult things and trials and to follow Christ even if things get bad… yet I’m thinking they won’t survive their own emotional twisting of Scripture, the “conversations” they believe are heart and life transforming, the men pleasing, face saving or the focus they put on societal troubles and sad things rather than on real repentance and forgiveness of all sins and the salvation of souls.  They won’t find refuge in this form of “Christianity” when real persecution comes.  No “conversation” will save the day then. That imaginary fence will disappear.  They will have to confess Jesus as Lord, claim His Word and suffer for it or denounce Him entirely.  God will reveal their hearts. 

The world doesn’t need the social gospel, they need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Whites don’t need to be labeled white racists who must repent of things they are not personally guilty of.   The world doesn’t need to focus on “racism”, Critical Race Theory, or the past evils this country was supposedly founded on.  The world needs the Gospel.  The world needs to know about repentance of all sins, forgiveness of all sins and the saving of any soul in the name of Christ.   


Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford

Through the Narrow: Life is Short, Eternity is Forever – By Tami Dykes

Life Is Short, Eternity Is Forever 

While waiting in the E.R. my youngest brother says to me, “Tami, I’m dying.” This was already understood by the whole family but he had never said those words before.  After a few seconds, I broke the silence with, “Well, we are all dying, none of us get out of this life alive.” I know that probably sounded insensitive but it was true. But I also desperately wanted my brother to think deep and hard about the statements we were both making. I then asked him if he got right with God and repented of his sins. Our conversation pretty much fizzled out after he said, “Yes, I did. “ I so needed him to understand that he did need to repent for the sin in his life, he wasn’t innocent, none of us are. The conversation was awkward, to say the least, but awkward was the word of the day it seemed. You could cut the air with a knife it was so obvious I was offending him. He was in constant pain and organs were failing, I had to try and wake him up before it was too late.   

You see, according to my brother he was saved and didn’t need to worry about his judgment day because just a few years earlier he was in a church that had an altar call in which the person next to him said, “Do you want to go to the front?” The look on his face said, no way, as he just stood there silently watching it all but the person was so persistent, they took him by the arm and lead him to the front of the church. He seemed to go reluctantly so as not to call attention to himself but they shouldn’t have done that to him, it needed to be his choice, not theirs. Besides, I didn’t agree with the whole alter call farce in the first place. https://www.gotquestions.org/altar-calls.html   

My brother followed through, repeated a sentence, and they said he was saved. He walked away that day believing that was all it took. My brother continued in the same old ways he did before and I never did see a change in him in the years that followed. He never expressed a desire to even talk about God or what the Scripture said. In fact, he hated it whenever I did, which was all the time. Many times, he would humor me and listen briefly until he became exhausted with it and changed the subject. He claimed he didn’t need to talk about Jesus anymore because he was saved. One time he said, “Tami, I know Jesus, stop worrying about me” but I replied, “Satan knows Jesus, but that means nothing.” Anyone can claim they know Jesus but do they really? Just because they go to church, just because they pray at a meal or talk about Him means nothing. It’s not just knowing of Jesus that makes someone a Christian but desiring to know about Jesus and living our lives for Him that brings about change in us and gives us hope for our eternity. My brother didn’t live a life that reflected Jesus or salvation. I say this because God says in Matthew 7:16-20~ “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”      

This means we can know a person by how they live, what kind of character they have; do they live as a Christian and show evidence of salvation? This can give us an idea of their spiritual life and if they truly are living as a person that is saved. Any one of us could look at a friend or loved one and judge by how they live if they know ‘OF’ Jesus or really ‘KNOW’ and love Jesus. If your best friend never goes to church and has a record of cheating and lying, then just because they say they know Jesus and are a Christian means nothing. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that when that person dies, they can’t turn to Christ in the very last hour of their life and be forgiven and saved, as the thief on the cross did. Luke 23:39-43 talks of a thief nailed to a cross for his crimes and as he hung next to Jesus he repented and acknowledged Jesus as his Lord. Jesus tells us he went to paradise with Him. Remember salvation isn’t based on how perfect you are but on our faith in Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. The thief was lost one moment, found the next, what a celebration! 

Just as the thief got a chance to know Jesus, in John 9 a blind man also gets to know Jesus. When Jesus meets the blind man, He explains that the man was born blind so that God’s works might be displayed in him, and then Jesus heals him. The Pharisees brag to the blind man that God speaks to Moses and they are disciples of Moses but Jesus is a sinner and they don’t know where he comes from. The blind man says in John 9:31, 33, “You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” In John 9: 35-38 Jesus asks the blind man if he believes in the Son of Man and the man asks, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him? Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you. He said, Lord, I believe, and he worshiped him. The Pharisees ask Jesus, Are we also blind? But Jesus answers, If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”    

It’s important to understand that the blind man comes to know who Jesus truly is because he was given the gift to understand and comprehend through his sight. After Jesus heals him, he realizes that Jesus was from God and proclaims his ignorance of who Jesus is and his need to see spiritually so he could worship Him. The Pharisees on the other hand had the gift of sight but were spiritually blind because they had the opportunity to see the truth. They claimed to know God yet wrongfully accuses Jesus of being a sinner and not from God. They willingly remained in sin and rejected the truth to not believe in Jesus, making them guilty.     

Now, I do not think Jesus is saying that blind people don’t have the ability to know Him, because they do. They can hear the stories of Jesus in the Scripture today and be presented with the Gospel but back then Jesus was making a point that the blind man didn’t have the same opportunities as the Pharisees. He couldn’t read, no one shared with him the knowledge of who Jesus was, he couldn’t ‘see’ the works of God’s creation to be without excuse as explained in Romans 1:19-20 but that people can be guilty of sin when they have opportunities to know the truth as the Pharisees did but then reject it.   

We can read more on the meaning of that verse here, “Barnes’ Notes on the Bible~ “If ye were blind – If you were really blind and had no opportunities of learning the truth. If you were truly ignorant and were willing to confess it and to come to me for instruction. No sin – You would not be guilty. Sin is measured by the capacities or ability of people, and by their opportunities of knowing the truth. If people had no ability to do the will of God, they could incur no blame. If they have all proper ability, and no disposition, God holds them to be guilty. This passage teaches conclusively: 1) that people are not condemned for what they cannot do. 2) That the reason why they are condemned is that they are not disposed to receive the truth. 3) That pride and self-confidence are the sources of condemnation. 4) That if people are condemned, they, and not God, will be to blame. We see – We have knowledge of the law of God. This they had pretended when they professed to understand the law respecting the Sabbath better than Jesus, and had condemned him for healing on that day. Your sin remaineth – You are guilty, and your sin is unpardoned. People’s sins will always be unpardoned while they are proud and self-sufficient, and confident of their own wisdom. If they will come with humble hearts and confess their ignorance, God will forgive, enlighten, and guide them in the path to heaven.” 

Saying we know Jesus just doesn’t mean much if we turn from Him in our lives as the Pharisees did. The criminal and blind man came to faith but the ones that were seen as a religious sect that accepted the Old Testament as inspired by God didn’t. When I talk about the thief, the blind man, and the Pharisees these were men that didn’t know Jesus and when presented with the truth, they were all given the opportunity to believe in Jesus. So, what about people that don’t have the ability to understand the truth when presented to them such as babies and the mentally disabled? What happens to them at death. 

In 2 Samuel 12:22-23, we read about the death of David’s infant son, “He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”      

This shows that David had found comfort knowing he will see his child again but only by going to the same place his child went. We can only assume he believes the child is in heaven. He was in such sorrow while the child lay sick but after his child passed away David appears to have peace about where he believes his child to be and he stops fasting, cleans up, worships, and eats. David knows about God’s mercy and grace and believes the Lord will show his mercy and grace on his child and they will be together in heaven someday. 

It’s always heartbreaking when a baby passes but looking at the story of David can bring us comfort as well.  It’s common for people to wonder where babies go when they die or even the mentally disabled. How can we know for certain? Babies, and mentally disabled don’t know any better and don’t understand even what a sinner is, or why they need to repent, and even more so, know who Jesus is. You could explain the gospel to them a dozen times and they would never have the ability to understand it. That’s the difference, the blind man was given the opportunity to know the truth and he understood it yet with babies and mentally disabled they can’t comprehend the truth even if they were presented with the opportunity. Scriptures don’t specifically talk about where babies or the mentally disabled go after death. The only thing we have to go on to gain any knowledge from is within the Scripture’s accounts that speak of those that have died and by knowing the character of God such as in the story of the thief, the blind man, and David. Unfortunately, some faiths add to or take away from Scriptures to fit their own man-made beliefs such as infant baptism. Baptism is biblical but infant baptism is not. Some believe infants should be baptized so if they die, they go to heaven. Biblically, baptism doesn’t save babies or anyone, instead, it is a profession of faith, and a baby can’t profess faith in Jesus not to mention, Jesus wasn’t even baptized till he was an adult, which should tell us something. Baptism illustrates Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and is done publicly of one’s own choice in a desire to express their love for Christ in the washing away of sins and believing the old life has died and a new life begins. It represents the dying of our flesh by fully being submerged in water (just as people that die are completely buried in the ground and not just sprinkled with a handful of dirt). Then when we rise from the water, we are a new person through Christ and have the hope of resurrection and eternal life. A new believer often shows evidence of their salvation by the desires for a biblical baptism. A lost person normally wouldn’t desire that at all. So, basically, baptism is pointless to a baby or someone that is mentally disabled because they are not capable of understanding the meaning behind it.      

Matthew 18:1–6, and Matthew 19:13–15, are comforting examples of how God loves children and says for believers to be like children. He speaks of them being the greatest in the kingdom and that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. I think of all the small children and infants that have died through abuse, abortion, and sicknesses and are in heaven now. God’s character is shown through such gentle words that bring much peace.   

​The reality of how short life is becomes painfully clear when a child dies. Life is short no matter what because the moment we are born we start to die, some faster than others. Job 14:1~“Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” Compared to eternal life it is but a blink which is why God commands us to share the gospel to help people know the Lord and find salvation before they die. Once a person dies there are no more chances to get right with the Lord. Although God does the saving and ordained us before birth to be sealed for salvation, we are still called by God to point people back to Christ and His Word and share the gospel. We will never know the true outcome of anyone we share the gospel with but we just need to be obedient, reach out to the lost, and speak the truth. 

Unlike the thief on the cross spending his life as a criminal yet becoming heaven-bound in his last moments with Christ, there are people that live their whole life as Christians doing good works on a daily basis yet will be Hell-bound without Christ. The word ‘Christian’ is a title that anyone can claim and anyone can fake but one thing’s for certain, they can never deceive the Lord. Anyone can say they read the Bible and know Jesus, remember, Satan knows Jesus! The question we need to ask is, does the Lord know us? Well, of course, our Lord knows everyone, but that’s not what I’m getting at. If you don’t have faith in Jesus and desire to seek after truth, even though you defiantly have the opportunity to you won’t know the Father’s will and instead, you will believe in things not of God. Then He will declare to you He NEVER knew you. Matthew 7:21-23~“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”      

This is stating that they are not identified as true believers. They believe in a different god, a different Jesus. They may seem like a good Christian when they brag about doing good deeds like prophesying, casting out demons, and doing many good works in the name of God but that will not get them into Heaven because God sees right through them and knows their hearts.  

When a person dies, no number of good deeds spoken at their funeral will get them into Heaven either. In fact, normally people speak about the deceased as a good person who’s in Heaven with Jesus now and suggest they are no longer suffering. I can only assume people say these things because they don’t know what else to say and they desire to comfort those in pain. There isn’t anything bad in what they say except biblically it’s misleading because we don’t know where they are. Sure, in some cases, there are people who do go to Heaven but not everyone. When people die, they ARE with Jesus but for the purpose of being judged, Hebrews 9:27~ ”And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after thatcomes judgment,”Revelation 20:11–15tells us that the dead stand before the throne and are judged according to what they had done and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Matthew 7:13–14 speaks of the difficulty in going to Heaven and says it’s a narrow gate and only a few will find it but many will go to the wide gate that will lead to Hell. Doesn’t seem like very good odds.  When anyone dies, they are judged; they stand face to face with God but will they remain in His presence or be cast out? I’d like to challenge you that for every funeral you go to, remember these verses. This should cause you great concern for the lost. It shouldn’t be easy to assume everyone you know is Heaven bound because the truth is more people will go to Hell. This is why the saying, they aren’t suffering anymore, isn’t true for everyone either. For those that are condemned to Hell, it is a place of torment and pain. In the Bible, even the rich man in Hell wanted to warn his family about it but couldn’t. One of the more disturbing phrases I’ve heard at funerals is, “they are looking down on you” or “they are watching over you.” For many, this also means the dead are active or invested in the lives of the living somehow. Unexplained activity is often blamed on dead loved ones suggesting the dead are ghosts. Ghosts are not real, but demons are and they are not to be messed with. Turn to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and pray, for He is the only one they fear. Just as people believe the dead watch over them, some believe Saints in Heaven are a bit different because they are seen as holy and will come to watch over us if we pray to them. They have been credited with helping people find lost articles and even selling houses, none of which is biblical.  

After someone dies, they do not remain on earth or come back from Heaven or Hell because in 2 Corinthians 5:8, the Bible tells us that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. Hebrews 9:27 says man dies once then judged. Revelation 20:11–15 tells us the dead are judged and if they are not in the book of life they are thrown into the lake of fire.  

So, it’s apparent that the only one that watches over us is our Lord. Psalm 121:7-8The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. It is also written in 1 John 5:18 that Jesus holds us securely, and the evil one cannot touch us. Jeremiah 1:19 says the Lord rescues. Psalm 3:5 says the LORD was watching over His children. Psalm 31:23 says “the LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.” If God is watching over us, then why would we want anyone else doing that? What makes us think our loved ones in Heaven want to watch over us when they are in a place that is so wonderful? I’m thinking I wouldn’t waste my time watching over anyone on Earth when I have all the wonders of Heaven to explore. Those in Hell wouldn’t be able to either or care because sadly they are suffering. Nowhere in Scriptures do we read the dead in Heaven or Hell are able or even unable to watch over us. But we can be sure that if they are watching us, they will be in complete agreement with the Lord’s dealings on earth. Those in Heaven are changed to have perfect understanding and complete peace with God’s will. There is a time where those in Heaven will follow Christ into battle and witness the wrath of God taking place as He kills and destroys everyone who’s evil. 

My heart ached so badly when my brother died because all I knew of him was his fruits and they were not good fruits. Sure, there were times he was kind and had ways of bringing laughter to people but again being nice doesn’t get you to Heaven, it’s having faith in Jesus and being transformed in the mind and heart through salvation. You hate sin and desire to live a righteous life. The only thing I can hope for is that my brother had a ‘thief on the cross’ moment that was truly genuine and humble just before he died. God shows us an act of love in giving us the ability to repent and be forgiven but only while we live.   

1 John 2:2~“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” God provides THE way to the Father through Jesus; we can’t find Him in any other way. God is also so merciful to forgive but we mustn’t forget that God is also just, which means our sins must be punished. In order for us to escape punishment, Jesus must cover us with His blood and if we deny that gift then we pay for our sins apart from Jesus. Someday God will come calling for us all and you will either stand guilty before the throne of God or you will stand covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven. 

Everyone’s days are numbered and no one knows when God has appointed us to take our last breath. But think for a moment when we do, what is going to be the last thing we leave behind? What will be the last words from our lips? Are we going to leave something that honors God or will shame God? What will people say about you?  

I know I deserve hell because I’m a wretched person but I am also grateful and thankful that God called me to be saved and Jesus has covered my sins and I will someday be in the presence of God for eternity. Not because of any good deeds I did or because I’m a swell person-I’m not. I can only brag that Jesus was the reason I was saved, changed, and forgiven at all. I don’t deserve any credit or a “Well done good and faithful servant”. 

Do you have the assurance of salvation? “1 John 5:11–13, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life”. Who is it that has the Son? It is those who have believed in Him (John 1:12). If you have Jesus, you have life. Not temporary life, but eternal.”  

From, https://www.gotquestions.org/assurance-salvation.html 

For more on sharing the gospel click on this link https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/through-the-narrow-casting-and-clutching-your-pearls-by-gina-cook/#respond    


Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford

Through the Narrow: What About the IF:Gathering? Part I – by Gina Cook

In a few days, the IF:Gathering will be back at it again.  Sadly it seems terms such as “love”, “God”, “hope”, “messy”, “mission” and “gospel” will be made into a soppy salad served alongside a big ol’ meatless woke burger.  Nothing much good or true about it.  It saddens me that so many women are ingesting this mush without question.  What IF serves is not biblical, it’s not really beneficial and in many ways, it’s dangerously unhealthy.  I want to explain why.  

Last year I had written about the IF:Gathering and why we should avoid it.

(See here; https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/through-the-narrow-what-about-the-ifgathering-by-gina-cook/hering )I want to shine additional light on the IF:Gathering, the topics and some of the speakers for this year. I’m not going to be able to do a deep dive on them but I will provide many helpful links to aid those who want to know more of why there are concerns.  

Changing the world

 “Changing the world” is the theme of this years IF:Gathering.  Jennie Allen, the founder, talks in her monologue about the message of changing the world and how she sees us changing it. 

“This is what I still believe can change the world.  I still believe you, in your places, loving your people, doing simple things well can change the world.”

 She ends with,

“Do not miss this. Join us live.  Gather your people.  Tell everyone you know and let’s go and imagine a world that is unified again and on mission for the glory of God.”

In just this short statement there are several things that concern me.  For the most part, it was very ambiguous.  Nothing in her statements was biblically clear.

There was absolutely no mention of Christ or Scripture.  There’s no hint of the Gospel.  Isn’t she talking about changing the world?  How does a Christian really do that?  We can’t see any meaningful or lasting change without proclaiming Him and His Gospel.  Ultimately we don’t change anyone in this world for the better- He does.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26.

Also, she says it’s “you in your places, loving your people and doing simple things well”

To say we must do things well in order to change the world is putting too much focus on us.  It is Christ Who saves, changes, and sanctifies.  We are simply the messengers and examples of what God does with a stone-cold dead sinner.  We are made alive because of Him.  He is the reason for any good.  Our deeds reflect who resides in us, so may our thoughts, words, and deeds be God-glorifying (Matthew 5:16). 

Also, what “simple things” is she referring to?  All I know is carrying our cross (Luke 14:27), counting the cost (Luke 14:27-33), enduring various trials (1 Peter 1:6), and being hated (John 15:18) are probably not best described as “simple things”.  But then I’m thinking she isn’t talking about any of those things. 

Did she actually say “unified again?”  When was the world unified in the first place?  I suppose that brief time before Adam and Eve sinned, the world (two people) was perfectly unified.  Since then, world-wide unity hasn’t been possible or even wise.

God says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.”  Matthew 10:34.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:19

We are NOT going to usher in any world-wide unity, especially with our good deeds and PC talks.  We won’t and can’t see world-wide unity until the Millennial kingdom (Revelation 10:1-7) and even then, Christ is the reason for it.  Things get much worse before then (Matthew 24:7-9). 

As I explained in my previous article, the true Gospel, repentance, and faith in Christ alone, are not the focus of any of their messages at the IF:Gathering.  Those were never explained or presented biblically.  The social gospel and easy-believism are central to what most of the speakers teach. 

Jennie Allen uses the term “on mission”.  I have found in my own experiences in churches who use this term frequently it’s less about what God actually defines the mission to be for Christians and it’s more about friendship evangelism.  It’s ALL relationship building and zero fidelity to preaching the Gospel no matter the cost.  All zealous fluff and no sustenance.

After looking into the guest speakers this year and what topics they are going to be covering it’s clear, social justice is still going to be a major focus in their teachings once again and what else would we expect, especially in 2021.

The Speakers

Latasha Morrison and David Bailey – They are going to talk about the Church’s next steps for racial reconciliation.  On the IF:Gathering site, it says, “Join Be the Bridge founder, Latasha Morrison, and Arrabon Executive Director, David Bailey, for this conversation on racial justice and the Church.

Latasha Morrison, founder of “Be the Bridge”, who is a “diversity expert” and “unity champion” says on her website she is “committed to educating people on cultural intelligence and racial literacy” and is “Certified Trainer in Cultural Intelligence and Unconscious Bias.  No surprise she is strongly supportive of Black Lives Matter.  Critical Race Theory seems to be her passion.

And just a real quick note on CRT- it’s is an absolute evil.  It’s racism packaged in “justice” and “healing.”  It’s devoid of any godliness.   It has no room for forgiveness, impartiality, grace, or hope.  It’s a factory of bitterness, hate, and perpetual victimhood that can never really be remedied.  It’s a destructive religion.  Social justice is not biblical.  There is only one justice, biblical justice.  What Critical race theory actually does is demonize being white, eradicates the hope of redemption or forgiveness, keep victims as victims, and ironically resuscitates white supremacy from its near-death into a revised and strengthened form.  That’s because it is about poor blacks needing help and handouts from whites.  Blacks have no power until the whites, and all that is supposedly created by whites, are out of the picture in some way.  CRT ironically keeps blacks in perpetual need of the white man’s lowered hand and has whites viewed as all-powerful and superior in a way that most whites would never think of or want, especially true Christians. 

To hear an EXCELLENT and clear cut discussion on CRT, check this out, it is well worth your time:  EP # 108 | Critical Race Theory – Just Thinking Ministries)

Dr. Anita Phillips – the site states:

Trauma therapist and life coach, Dr. Anita Phillips is an expert at unraveling the human experience. Known for her paradigm-shifting insights at the intersection of mental health, spirituality, and culture, her work is guided by one simple idea: most things that seem complicated are actually just hard. From overthrowing anxiety to re-imagining the path to equity, Dr. Anita helps people, groups, and organizations accomplish hard things.

Ahh, “paradigm-shifting insights at the intersection of mental health, spirituality, and culture “ and “re-imagining the path to equity”.  Smells familiar, like a woke burger deluxe.  When someone starts using spirituality and culture in the same sentence, and on top of that, says they can bring insights on the subjects, run!Also, I noticed now we are talking about hard things.  Simple things, hard things.  Clear as mud.

Jackie Hill Perry – She is actually well known but perhaps some of the more recent and most concerning endorsements and associations are not as known to most. 

Sadly she was once a seemingly solid believer, being saved from a life of homosexuality and false religion but has now fully embraced dangerous teachings, especially in the social justice arena.  She has partnered with false teachers in various events for a few years now.  After being called out for her close ties to false teachers and false churches she vehemently defended it, not showing any concern for what they teach as being wrong, saying “I don’t define false teachers as others do.”

She also preaches to men.

You can find out more about her here:

https://michellelesley.com/2020/04/03/jackie-hill-perry/Too Wretched For Radio 09/16/2019 – Wretched (16:00)

Christine Caine  – Although she is likable and has done a lot for important causes, such as human trafficking, she should be avoided for several reasons.  She is known to preach to men, to have strong ties to the prosperity “gospel”, mishandle Scripture, and to closely associate with false teachers.  That’s enough to know she can’t be a trusted teacher of the Lord’s Word.

You can read more on her here:

Francis Chan – It’s heartbreaking to witness a man who had a strong start only to embrace a soft, ecumenical, and extra-biblical mystical belief system.  He supports Catholicism, prosperity gospel, and false prophets for starters.  Francis Chan has written and taught some good things, some very biblical things, but that’s why he’s so dangerous.  When you have truth mixed with poison, when you embrace and endorse wolves, people will be more easily stumbled and wounded. 

To learn more about the concerns regarding Francis, check out these links:

Too Wretched For Radio 08/19/2019 – Wretched

Francis Chan: Q&A (pt3) // Catholic Ecumenical Track – YouTube

A few further resources on Francis Chan – The End Time (the-end-time.org)

David Platt – Again, another man who seemingly started out solid, who was even warning against false teachings, and unbiblical practices such as  “asking Jesus into your heart”.  Sadly he is now taking off in dangerous directions.  David, like others, has taught biblically solid material.  However, he is now embracing Critical Race Theory/Social justice gospel.  He openly supports false teachers, such as Beth Moore and Louie Giglio.

David Platt Promotes False Teacher, Louie Giglio (reformationcharlotte.org)

David Platt Preaches Jesse Jackson-like Sermon on Racism, Turns Out to Be Racist and Unjust (reformationcharlotte.org)

Ann Voskamp and Lysa Terkeurst – I wrote about these two ladies in my first article.  Nothing has seemed to change. No repenting of extra-biblical, gross emotionalism and nonsensical teachings.  The concerns are very serious with these two ladies.  The partnering with false teachers and the embracing of false teachings should not be downplayed.  These two women are very good at making false teachings funny, heart-warming, and seemingly needed for your spiritual growth.

https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/31/through-the-narrow-ann-voskamp-seductive-romanticism-by-tami-dykes/

Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries – Michelle Lesley

Bianca Olthoff – She preaches to men, dabbles with extra-biblical revelation, has close associations with false teachers such as Steven Furtick.

On her website, it states a few ways she wants to “transform lives through the saving power of Jesus Christ”.  Here is one of them:

“Social Justice.  We are made in the image of God to do good and act good. Our initiatives are created to catalyze others to be socially responsible and care for others.”

Again, social justice is not real justice/biblical justice and has nothing to do with Jesus, with caring or with being responsible. Yes, we are to “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor, Obtain justice for the orphan, Plead for the widow’s case.” (Isaiah 1:17)  Social justice in its true form is not any of that.

https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/through-the-narrow-steven-furticks-heretical-views-on-satan-sovereignty-by-tami-gina/

Rebekah Lyons – She preaches to men, believes false religions can have unity with Christianity, seeks to be culturally relative, has close connections and praise for false teachers such as Rachel Held Evans.

Lauren Chandler – She is the wife of Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church, another one of those whose discernment has seemingly bit the dust.  His endorsements of false teachers such as Anne Voskamp, his embrace of extra-biblical revelation, and very sloppy handling of Scripture is not good at all.  Does his wife embrace the same?  Although not sure how far she shares the exact same convictions, she has no doubt embraced some troubling teachers, practices, and beliefs.

Matt Chandler saw a pirate ship, cannons, and a shark. Oh my! – YouTube

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3 – Michelle LesleyI have not mentioned all the speakers for this year.  There are several more.  I wouldn’t put them all in one class.  There are a few that are respectable for the most part.  There are a few others who are questionable but not enough evidence yet to determine which side of the fence they are really on. Overall it’s not wise to try and “eat the meat and just spit out the bones” here.   I strongly suggest avoiding IF:Gathering, doing your homework, and warning your sisters in Christ.  The salvation of souls and the health of the church depend on it.

Remember, the only hope for anyone is the whole Gospel.  The only way to redemption and righteousness is THE Way, our Lord Jesus Christ – not the dumbed-down, fluffy soft version of “jesus” topped with all of our sugary “good” works.  He is the righteous King, Almighty Savior, and the great I AM. Let Him be heard by proclaiming what is God-breathed.  Only through Him will good and everlasting change come!

Additonal notes:  Michelle Lesly and Elizabeth Prada’s older articles on IF:Gathering are a great help in outlining some of the concerns that have seemingly not changed over the years. 

Michelle Lesley: Jennie Allen and IF:Gathering – Michelle Lesley

Elizabeth Prada: Search Results for “IF Gathering” – The End Time (the-end-time.org)

The official website of IF:Gathering:

IF:Gathering 2021 – IF:Gathering

Through the Narrow: Casting and Clutching your Pearls – By Gina Cook

Casting and Clutching your Pearls

Sharing the Gospel is the command of the Lord, the joy and duty of a Christian and often times where believers struggle most in their walk with Christ.  Either we labor too long in trying to reach the obstinate mockers and become gravely discouraged or we find ourselves around the rankest of sinners and immediately tuck and run for the nearest exit.  Mission abort.  

It’s the undiscerning pearl “casters” vs. the fainting pearl “clutchers”.  

We can be either one at any given time.  I know I have!  These are not identities I believe a Christian has continually.  There are moments, maybe many, where we tend to fall in one or the other category depending on the situation.  

Why am I talking about pearls?

Pearls are mentioned a few times in Scripture, usually used metaphorically in communicating the value of the Word and Kingdom of God (see Job 28:18, Matthew 7:6, 13:45-46.)  

Pearls were the most valuable gem obtainable at that time.  If you had pearls, you had a fortune. They were THE symbol of great wealth.  They were the rare diamonds of the time.  Their beauty and, most importantly, what it took to acquire them attributed to their high value.

A pearl diver in ancient times would risk a lot to get them.  Dr. John MacArthur explains, 

“Basically, what they did was tie rocks to their body and then jump off the side of the little boat and go to the bottom amidst all the monsters of the deep that they would know little about, and the sharks and whatever else, and they would scour the bottom in the mud trying to come up with those oysters, holding one long deep-drawn breath, and fearing lest they go too deep and burst and die.  And they would come up with these treasures. 

And when once discovered, a pearl that was of perfection and beauty would be worth literally an unnamed price, incredibly valuable.  So valuable are they that the Talmud says, “Pearls are beyond price.””

 (taken from: Entering the Kingdom (gty.org) )

Once a fine pearl was found and brought to surface a sensible diver would never think of chucking it into the most obviously filthy and useless place.    No way.  How senseless that would be.  

Even more so for Christians to do so regarding the holy things of God.

Casting Your Pearls

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

This is talking about the precious Truth of God, the pearls beyond price. 

(To clarify, the Mormon’s “The Pearl of Great Price” is not to be viewed as biblically sound.  To know why you can check out this link: What is The Pearl of Great Price in Mormonism? | GotQuestions.org.)  
No one would think to give their most precious possession to a filthy, wild animal for it to trample underfoot. 

So who are the spiritual swine this verse is talking about exactly and why not share the Gospel with them?  Aren’t we to share Christ with all the world? (Mark 16:15, John 17:18)

“Swine” doesn’t refer to all unbelievers but only to unbelievers who are particularly disrespectful, resistant to and hostile towards the Gospel.  These are pig-headed people; existing proudly in their muck and having no concern over what is truly valuable.  They will treat it with contempt and attack.  

Remember the command for the disciples in Matthew 10:14 to “shake the dust off your feet”?  

“And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.”

It was the swine-like unbelievers had to leave behind.  These people did not see any value in the truth nor would they pay any cost for it (Luke 14:28).  They were the spiritual “swine” that mock and reject the truth of God.

We even read about Jesus Himself refusing to “cast pearls to the swine”.  In Matthew 21:27 when the chief priests and elders questioned Christ’s authority it ended with Him saying, “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.”

Matthew 27:12-14 says, “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not offer any answer. Then Pilate *said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they are testifying against You?” And still He did not answer him in regard to even a single charge, so the governor was greatly amazed.

“And the disciples came up and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” And Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”  Matthew 13:10-11

Sadly for them, the conversation was over and the door was shut.  There was nothing more to say.  Their rejection of what was most precious brought upon His rejection of them.  

This doesn’t mean we know for sure one who seems to be a swine will never become a sheep.  We don’t have the ability to see as God sees.  Yet, if they are being swine at the time we must dust off and move on.  We must trust God to use any seeds already planted and prayerfully walk on as we leave them with His warning for their soul.  We take our pearls elsewhere and trust the Lord with it all.  Our hands are clean and He is glorified.  

We admire the passion of the pearl caster to share Truth.  The Gospel is paramount in our Christian life.  It is the power of God for salvation.  We are to go into the world and give the Good News.  After all, how can one know Jesus without hearing about Him?  As Romans 10:14 says, “How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?”  

This is true.  However, God wants us to know caution must be exercised regarding the pointless and exhausting chucking of what is most valuable to those who refuse to receive it.  The Kingdom is a priceless treasure, never to be treated with contempt.  The value of this “pearl” is incomprehensible.

God says in Matthew 13:45, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything that he had and bought it.”

The wise understand and appreciate the value of it.  They know it’s worth their livelihood, even their own life.  Some who look like possible swine from a glance may be the very ones who appreciate the Truth the most.Clutching Your Pearls

Jesus did not keep priceless pearls from the lepers, prostitutes, swindlers, and the like.  He was ridiculed for His compassion for the drudge of society.  He saw them, He called them out of their filth and they responded in faith.  He is the Healer of those who know they need healing.  When the Good News was cast to them they received it with great joy.  

Pearl “clutchers”, or perhaps one could refer to them as “Jonah-ites”, can have the tendency to cling tightly to their precious pearls as they look upon the sinfulness of this world in horror.  Perhaps a particular sinner, the most repulsive and intimidating kind, has the Christian clutching and running rather than sharing and trusting.  They quickly retreat in the opposite direction without allowing the Word of God to be cast at all.  

The “clutchers” do well to hang on to the Word of God.  They cling to it with love, especially during times of distress and difficulty.  To them it is precious but at times forget it’s not just for them.  Again we are to go into the world to reach the lost for Christ (John 17:18).  We can’t be picking and choosing who gets to hear it according to outward appearance, biases or fears.  

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

We don’t want to be like Jonah, running away from the people who need to hear it and are actually willing to receive it.  We don’t want to be more concerned about our earthly comfort than one’s eternal torment.  Don’t be Jonah in the sense of retreating to your shelter without a care for the souls of your least favorite sinners.  Jonah was more concerned about a withered shade plant for himself than the possible torment of a large group of people.  

“Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant, for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not also have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 people, who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left, as well as many animals?”  Jonah 4:10-11

As Christ has compassion, so should we.  And not only compassion but courage and confidence in the Word and work of God.

 “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” John 6:68

The priceless pearl of the eternal kingdom of God is worth whatever cost we may need to pay here.  There is a sacrifice to having the finest of pearls and perhaps great cost in our attempts to share them with the world.  One thing is for sure, we have nothing without what is most precious.  No one does.

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ,” Philippians 3:8

Let us strive to not mishandle, dishonor, or hoard the Pearl of great value! 


Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford

Through the Narrow: It’s A Bird… It’s A Plane…No, It’s Sacred Scripture! – By Tami Dykes

There are millions of people in the world that do some amazing things. People such as firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, just to name a few. Millions of people go into careers like these and are often called heroes for saving lives all the time. However, there are some that are even more unique to the world that comes along very rarely. Have you ever seen a movie when the main character becomes famous when they discovered they have a special talent or gift? Maybe a movie about a genie granting three wishes? How about a movie where someone gets superpowers or where someone was chosen to save the world? It’s all focused on that one person and how it’s up to them to do something great. This one person finds out that they were chosen for something special.

With all these are movies, it makes people walk away secretly wishing they were the hero of their own story in life. How exciting. Strangely enough, I do hear people talk as if they do have real unique abilities and they speak of it on a daily basis. They will speak of being someone special, someone with powers, someone that tells stories about their own moments in life that cause others to be in awe of them. Well, allow me to explain more. My first experience with this was with others close to me. They talked of some pretty special, even bizarre abilities and experiences they personally had on many different occasions. Stories that just seemed too bizarre but had just enough “what if” to intrigue me and kept me captivated every time something new happened. They would say God spoke to them all the time. I remember thinking about how it was so cool that they got to hear from God…God!!! I mean think about that. He’s the creator of all things and He chooses to talk to ‘them’ about stuff. However, the stories they told intrigued me but of course today I look back and don’t see God in them at all. One story was how God called them to do something “unfamiliar” and it would make people upset but it was for this person to have faith and trust in what was to happen. This thing God had them to do was something not Christian at all. They were told to get a person’s attention by cussing at them, and another time God gave them the ok to steal something. One time they said God wanted them to cast out a demon in a person and it took several people and they spoke of how strong the demon was in fighting so many at the same time. I remember it sounding like a battle between good and evil, kind of like superheroes.  

I remember another time how they discussed how many people they saved and then asked me, “How many people have you saved?” They spoke in tongues which I found amazing because I couldn’t do it and they talked of healing people. Sadly, this eventually caused me to think I too could be like them someday if I was found worthy enough.  

I wasn’t mature in the Word of God to even know the truth and they weren’t teaching me Biblical truth either and that was harmful to my faith. I was being fed deception left and right. I just remember thinking, is there some kind of greatness inside all of us or is it just some? How come they could hear from God and do those powerful things and I couldn’t. Are there just some that are special? Or is everyone special? Although, if everyone is special, then truly no one is, right?  I was left with so many questions and so confused but I knew I wanted to be like them. Now, that was a problem for me but I didn’t realize it at the time. My desire to be like them was sadly poisonous because it dismissed God completely. It wasn’t that I wanted to be saved because I desired God in my life but because I wanted to be seen as worthy enough to hear God speak to me and heal people and speak in tongues, and look important. Yeah, not good! It was all a very selfish place to be. When people become false converts it’s often because they want to get something not because they have been changed by God. I’ve heard many famous bible teachers do this such a Priscilla Shirer when she preached to her audience about getting saved; that they could get to a place where they were in tune with God and could hear Him speak. People would quickly and joyfully approach her stage to be saved because they believed they would get something amazing in return. You can read the article here: https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/26/through-the-narrow-priscilla-shirer-wants-more-by-tami-dykes/ 

Now to be fair there are some true stories of real individuals that have been picked just for special times and purposes in the world such as the 12 Apostles or Noah, Moses, and Mary and Joseph even in the future God calls the 144,000 Jews. All of these people were not anything special outside of God though. They had no powers and no unique ability that was unheard of. Yes, God did call them to do some really great and powerful things but they were done by God, not them. God used them to showcase His powers. God had a reason for using those people, even though He could have done it Himself faster. Even as He used them, they were scared and uncertain and had feelings of doubt. We read, however, that in the midst of all the fear and doubt they felt, they were willing and obedient. God used their patience, kindness, and obedience and taught us through His Word the importance of good character and being obedient.  

So you can see how people in the churches today twist how God works. A false convert may be false because they bought into a lie another person told them about God. They may say something was said by God but if they research what they were being told they would obviously see it’s not the God of the Bible that person is talking about. The God they speak of is of their own making. The false convert sees this person’s life and special abilities and desire it in their own life and hear that all they need to do is accept Christ into their life and they will be special too. They will gain a supernatural connection with a powerful entity that will use them in an extraordinary way. They will be given special messages or visions or power. Yeah, that sounds amazing!  

What they need to understand is, God uses us whether we are a believer or not, whether we know it or not. We are the ones that are lost without Him, we need Him not the other way around. We can’t save ourselves or anyone else, only God has that power.   

Many uneducated believers argue that our feelings are important when we worship God because when God speaks to us, we can feel Him in some way. I’ve heard that God may give us a chill or the hair on the back of our neck stands up or we feel strongly in our hearts about something good or bad. Is it all about our feelings, all about us doing special things?   

It truly amazes me that the “feelings” phenomenon is so hard to break when dealing with people that believe in an Almighty God who created the Universe. If our feelings were so in tune with God, wouldn’t God tell us this in His Word? Wouldn’t God tell us to follow our hearts and listen to our thoughts on things or our gut or trust in our self when we get that shiver down our spine? I realize it seems I’m being repetitive and I know I have a habit of doing that, but being repetitive does help us to learn and remember. Jesus repeated many things in the Bible and many books in the Bible had the same stories in them as well, just worded differently. 

So, ask yourself again, why point people to a human feeling and promptings or new revelations that came from our own interpretation? Is it to look good, or to get what we want? Have you ever been deceived by your own feelings? I have many times. Have you been deceived by your own heart? God even says our hearts are deceitful, Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 

 Feelings CAN’T be trusted or reliable because they deceive us.  But the Bible IS reliable AND trusted. God gave us the Bible and God tells us it’s Him and His Word that is “perfect” and “complete” for all our needs. 

So, if we can’t save ourselves or anyone else and we can’t hold certain supernatural abilities what is it we are to do as a Christian? What is important to God? We are to test, research, and get an understanding of who God is and what He wants by reading His Word and obeying it.  

Revelation 1:3“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near.” 

God says in 2 Timothy 3:15–17“how important His Word is in helping us stay wise…..” how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you “WISE” for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be COMPLETE, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  

It literally means we need nothing more, no feelings, no listening to our hearts just God’s Word. We are “complete” with the doctrine of Scriptures. We are absolutely “thoroughly equipped”. It doesn’t say “kind of equipped”, it doesn’t say a “little bit equipped”. God says we are “Thoroughly” equipped when we read His Word. Other translations say “PERFECT”, thoroughly furnished”. You can’t get better than perfectly furnished with the Word of God. 

Romans 12:2“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

Look back at where it says, “that by testing”, do we understand what that means? How do you test something to make sure it’s the will of God? Well, it’s by reading the Bible of course. God points us right back to His Holy Word, we test things to the Bible, we hold it up to Scriptures. 

In the next verse, it says, “This Book“. 

Joshua 1:8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” 

The verse tells us to do what is “written in it”. It points out that God’s desire for us is to “read His Words” day and night. When it says, “Book of the Law”, what’s that mean? It’s the Bible! When it says, “be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” This is reminding us the Bible is important, and it’s not about having personal messages, visions, or hearing an audible voice from God but instead, obeying the written Word. 

Psalm 1:1-2~ “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” 

What’s the Law of the Lord? The Bible! So many verses of God pointing us to Scriptures and telling us that He wants us to study His Word and take what we read very seriously. We are called to love His Word and be obedient to it. Not strive to look special by saying God gave me a special message. We shouldn’t think we can stand in the place of God and claim we did anything supernaturally, and certainly not presume we could ever hear God speak apart from Scriptures. It should cause great concern to anyone that would be told to believe a prompting or someone’s personal message from the Lord because all that does is point to ourselves or glorifies “people”, instead of God. 

1 Timothy 6:3–5“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming togodliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes.” 

 2 John 9–11“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” 

1 Corinthians 4:6~ “Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, do not go beyond what is written. Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.” 

When it says, “learn from us the meaning of the saying”, “Do not go beyond what is written” and people say they have new revelations from God (not what is written in the Bible), well, they are going beyond what is written. People follow a certain teacher that isn’t teaching what is written but going beyond it. People that go to Bible studies listen to one person’s personal teaching and not to God’s teaching because they want more or they want something AMAZING and they want a wow factor in their studies are going beyond what is written. The first teacher I thought of is Beth Moore! 

Hebrews 4:12”For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” 

The Bible which is a living book (the word of God) is alive and active. The Word gives us wisdom and instructs us and equips us, strengthens us and protects us, even convicts us, and judges our thoughts, and attitudes which should bring fear when we tend to drift in the direction of feelings. The law of God commands us to grow spiritually with the truth of Scriptures. 

Romans 15:4~ “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

Here again, it’s talking of Scriptures, not feelings, voices, hearts, or promptings. God is pointing back to the Bible and that is where we find instruction for our life’s choices. 

Deuteronomy 4:2~ “You shall not add to the Word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” 

Deuteronomy 12:32“Whatever I command you, you shall “be careful” to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.” 

Revelation 22:18“I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book. 

Proverbs 30:4-6~ “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know! “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” 

Above are 4 different verses that are talking of God’s “written” Word, the prophecy of Scriptures, not our prophecies or others. We are also repeatedly warned by God not to add or take away from what He says in His Holy Word. I’m thinking this is a big deal and the warnings are serious and it should cause us to check ourselves to keep us from violating God’s commands. 

Matthew 4:1-12~ “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But he answered, “it is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. “ 

Here we read that Jesus points to the authority of God’s written Word. The verse continues… 

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  

Interesting how Satan catches on to Jesus’ teaching and says “It is written” because he sees how important Jesus makes obeying the Word. Satan thinks saying this will be convincing to Jesus somehow by using the word, “written” to point to the authority of Scriptures to Jesus in hopes to tempt Him.  However, Jesus continues on with His point to teach us how important it is to trust His Word not our feelings or our own desires. I’m sure Jesus had many feelings that would have swayed anyone else to give in. Jesus was hungry, tired, and weak. But Jesus stands firmly on the Scriptures and not His feelings and emotions. In these verses, Jesus points us back to the “WRITTEN” Scriptures and its authority. 

“Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” 

Jesus said in John 14:16, He would send the Spirit to us to be our “Helper”, “Comforter”, and “Guide”. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever”. 

Believers in Christ will receive the Holy Spirit and He will “guide” them however there is nothing in the Scriptures that says we will know when that happens. The best response I’ve ever heard was from John MacArthur when he said, “One of the follies of the Charismatic movement is to say, “The Holy Spirit is leading me,” or “directing me.” You have no way to know that. I have no way to know that. I don’t have a red light on my head when it’s the Holy Spirit and goes off when it’s just me. I have no mechanism of understanding when it’s the Holy Spirit or just me. All I know is I can experience the result of His moving in my life. And it started when I was saved.” 

When we become saved the Holy Spirit lives within us believers. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the “Word” that we read and study. God is sovereign and works in our lives without us knowing anything of what He does, this is where we exercise our faith. We believe God is in control and accept it. There is nothing we can do to change God’s plan or spoil God’s plan in our lives. Not long ago when I was pointing out the false teachings of Priscilla Shirer, someone said to me, “Be careful that you do not hinder God’s work.” They did not like that I was warning about and calling out a false teacher who they must have looked up to but I found their response to me interesting. Their comment made God seem powerless against our choices. If I needed to be careful not to hinder God’s work, that meant God’s will could be interfered by my will, doesn’t it? Is God at the mercy of what people do? In which case makes God seem less of an authority. God will do whatever He wants to do and nothing I do will change it or stop it. I am not that powerful and never will be. We only need to read His Word, have faith, believe it, and obey it. We only need to look to the Scripture to learn of God’s authority, and that no one, not even Satan can alter it. The “God told me” fad is said by many out of ignorance because they don’t know God and they don’t understand the severity of those words yet at the same time people hear a preacher at the pulpit or well-known bible teachers who should know better say God told them a message. They like to make themselves look good by making others believe they actually hear directly from God Himself. They are quick to manipulate others and say, “God told me this or that,” when He didn’t tell them anything. That is a serious offense in God’s eyes as said in Deut. 5:11“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD, will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” People are quick to put God’s name to their stories or testimonies or reasons to do whatever in life because then who could argue? God said it, right?! No one could tell them they are wrong. How do we know its truth? We don’t! I remember several years ago my daughter came home from college to tell me that a guy said that God told him he was to marry her. She very confidently said, “Then why wouldn’t God tell me that too?” 

Matthew 12:36 ~”I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” 

Matthew 16:24~”Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” 

The hardest thing for us to do is deny ourselves and our desires which is our flesh. We are commanded not to obey the flesh, but to slay it. Following our prompts, feelings, or what we “feel God wants us to do” is obeying our flesh. We are going with our own idea and voices in our minds. Instead, we are to slay all that and point ourselves back to the Scriptures. 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5“If a prophet were a dreamer of dreams rises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or the wonder comes true concerning which he spoke to you saying let us go after other gods, let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is TESTING you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him. And you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him and cling to Him. But that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death because he “has counseled rebellion” against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to SEDUCE YOU FROM THE WAY IN WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD COMMANDED YOU TO WALK so you shall purge the evil from among you.” 

Basically, it’s saying if a prophet comes to you preaching good things, and even if the prophet does things that seem unbelievable or says things that come true, be warned because they will lead you away from God’s truth. God says they are rebellious and against Him. 

Below taken from https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170626 

2 Peter 1:19–21“We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy, was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 

“The last three words here make the point that God says all along. Yet Peter goes on to say that even what he heard with his own ears and saw with his own eyes was not as authoritative as the eternal Word of God contained in Scripture. Peter is not saying that his eyewitness testimony makes the “prophecy of Scripture” more sure. He is saying that the written Word of God by its very nature is more sure than his own experience. This is confirmed by Peter’s argument in verses 20–21, where he establishes the authority and divine origin of every “prophecy of Scripture. The Greek word order in verse 19 also supports this as the true meaning of the text: “We have more sure the prophetic Word.” More sure than what? More sure than experience—even the valid, genuine, eyewitness experience of the apostles. Peter is saying that the written Word is an even more reliable source of truth than his own experience. To paraphrase Peter’s message to his readers, it is this: “James, John, and I saw Christ’s glory firsthand. But if you don’t believe us, there is one authority even more certain than our testimony: the written Word of God.” Scripture tells us that the Devil masquerades as the light. If the Devil can deceive so many of God’s heavenly angels, then the Devil can and will deceive us mere humans. That’s why we need to rely on the Scriptures, it’s the only thing we know as solid truth and that we can trust because the Word is God

Through the Narrow: Warren and Worship – By Gina Cook

Recently the well-known pastor and author, Rick Warren, had told Relevant Magazine that COVID-19 has “revealed a fundamental weakness in the Church.  Most churches only have one purpose: worship.  And if you take worship away, you’ve got nothing.  They’re in a hurry to get back to worship because that’s all they’ve got.”

He explains, “Saddleback is built not on one purpose, but on five. You take one circle out, we’ve still got four other circles. We’ve got ministry going on. We’ve got mission going on. We’ve got fellowship going on. We’ve got discipleship going on. Those all stand on their own.”

Desiring to gather to worship is to him “a fundamental weakness”.  Critically he says, “that’s all they’ve got”.

Is it true?  Are some in the Church too focused on worship?  Is that a “circle” that can be set aside?  Are there other things to rest on in the times we live in or is corporate worship really at the crux of Christian living?

Maybe we need to define worship first.  

Worship is gratitude and thanksgiving towards God for all that He has done.  Worship is a genuine spiritual service. Worship is prayer with the right heart attitude.  Worship is recognizing God as He reveals Himself to be in Scripture, understanding what all He has done, especially in the salvation of souls, and then responding with gratitude and praise.  Worship is believing, obeying, and sharing what He has said in His Word.  Worshipping the true and living God is the core of living as a Christian.  

“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  Romans 12:1We worship in various ways, such as singing, praying, and preaching, but it’s not true worship unless it is in line with Scripture.  It’s also not true if it’s not from the heart.  We are commanded to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. 

“But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”” John 4:22-24

When knowing what worship means we can see that worship is not always about corporate worship, meaning the gathering with the local saints.  We most definitely can worship God alone in our closet, out in the middle of the woods, or on the moon.   

It’s corporate worship that Mr. Warren is calling worship.  With the COVID-19 outbreak, staying at home has been encouraged by many, including pastors like Rick Warren.  Many have done services via the internet.  At the beginning of the outbreak, pastors struggled to know what was the smart and obedient thing to do.  It’s understandable to stay at home for a time when serious sickness is an issue.  No one wants to spread diseases, especially potentially dangerous ones.  We are to care for others and be concerned for their well-being.  Also, we are also told to obey our governing authorities when it doesn’t go against God.  Does all of this mean we are to implement home worship as a new and necessary normal?  Are we to set aside church attendance indefinitely for the sake of public health?  Should we listen to governing authorities on this?  Who is the ultimate authority in this situation?

Really, how important is corporate worship? 

“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-21

“and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  Hebrews 10:24-25

God says, “do not abandon meeting together, as is the habit of some people.”    This is emphasized in the context of living in an increasingly turbulent world leading up to the coming of Christ.  We are to encourage one another as we gather and worship the One Who deserves all worship, honor, and praise.  As the body of Christ worships together they are there to encourage one another through trials, temptations, and turbulent times.  Continued isolation is disastrous and depleting, it leaves the soul vulnerable.  When pandemics and disasters strike, forsaking the gathering of the church body is the opposite of what should be done.

Church attendance isn’t something we do to be saved but it’s something saved people are to do.  

Some argue that “it’s just a building, I don’t have to go to the church service to worship.  I can watch and connect with others online.”

That is not enough in the long run.  Go ahead and assemble in a tent, tunnel, or cave instead of a building, that’s fine, but you have to assemble somewhere.  You need to gather in a physical place in order to obediently carry out all the Lord has instructed for His Church to do.  

In many letters written in the New Testament, you will see phrases such as “to the churches”, “in the churches;” to the rest of the churches, “as I directed the churches”, and “they are messengers of the churches, a glory toChrist” to name just a few of many verses that mention churches, little “c”.  We see in Scripture mentions of specific local churches: “To the churches of Galatia”, and “send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea” (Revelation 1).  We see the churches in Corinth and Thessalonica being addressed.  Apostle Paul says, in Romans 16, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.  Receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and help her in whatever matter she may have need of you, for she herself has also been a helper of many and of myself as well.” She was on her way to the church in Rome.

These churches were bodies of local believers gathering together for the purpose of worship- worship through singing, prayer, fellowship, proclamation, and teaching of the Word and the partaking of the Lord’s Table.  Believers were never encouraged to forsake this gathering.  In times of trial, pain, loss, and persecution especially, believers need one another.  Continuing to “do church” through a screen physically separate from one another is not a solution, it’s a problem.

Think about it.  Persecuted Christians for centuries have risked livelihood, their own lives, and families’ lives to worship with one another in underground churches.  Why?  Why risk your life for something that Warren suggests isn’t needed?  Why risk your life for corporate worship?

There is no way to measure the value of it.  During hardships, it’s even more important.  Being with fellow believers and encouraging one another in the Truth is nourishment to the soul and a great source of joy.  Most importantly it honors God and gives Him glory.  

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing.  But we ask you, brothers and sisters, to recognize those who diligently labor among you and are in leadership over you in the Lord, and give you instruction, and that you regard them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15  

It’s critical that we not only gather to support and encourage one another but we must gather under biblical and God-ordained leadership.  We are to be instructed in the Word by those with the gift of preaching the Word.  They are our shepherds.  How are the shepherds supposed to shepherd when the body isn’t gathered together?  How is exercising church discipline possible?

“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17

Leadership cannot lead, rule over, teach, and exercise church discipline if the church body is dispersed and not faithfully assembling.  The body can’t encourage the leadership either.  You can’t observe or pour into one another lives while remaining apart.  

GotQuestions.org says this about church attendance:

“We should want to attend church so we can fellowship with others who have also experienced the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. We should avoid missing church, whenever possible, because we recognize the importance of hearing God’s Word, applying it to our lives, and sharing it with others. We should attend church, not to collect spiritual bonus points, but because we love God, love His people, and love His Word. Every Christian should attempt to attend church regularly. At the same time, missing church for a good reason is in no sense a sin or something that should cause feelings of guilt.

When you miss (do not attend) church, do you miss (have a longing for) church? If so, that’s a sign you have a good connection with church. If not, that is a sign you need to re-evaluate your choice of church and/or participation in church. God knows our hearts. God is not impressed by a person simply because he attends every service. God’s desire is to build us up in Christ, and His method in this age involves the local church.”

(taken from https://www.gotquestions.org/missing-church.html )

Yes, there are good reasons to miss gathering with the rest of the local church body.  Every situation needs to be individually evaluated to see if it’s a good reason or not.  The real issue is whether or not we are desiring to regularly be a part of a church family.  If not, we need to examine our hearts.  Desiring fellowship is woven into the fabric of a Christian’s new heart; we want to fellowship with one another and praise God together.  Christians seek to worship God as a family to encourage, teach, strengthen, and pray for one another.  Assembling together is the visible expression of unity within Christ’s beloved Church.  If we don’t want to sit under the preaching of God’s Word, to serve and to worship together as a family, there’s a problem.

You certainly don’t want to be the professing Christian who fails to see this as crucial.  

Going back to Mr. Warren’s comments, where he says, “Saddleback is built not on one purpose, but on five. You take one circle out, we’ve still got four other circles. We’ve got ministry going on. We’ve got mission going on. We’ve got fellowship going on. We’ve got discipleship going on. Those all stand on their own”…. let’s dissect that a bit.

Ministry, mission, fellowship, and discipleship are all connected with the faithful gathering and leading of the local church body.  Neither one can successfully stand alone.  The teaching and preaching of God’s Word, the accountability believers have with one another, the shepherding and rule of the leadership, the monetary giving to the church and all that the church supports, etc. – it all supports and provides ministry, mission, fellowship, and discipleship.  When we look at Scripture we don’t see these things as isolated entities and disconnected from one another. 

I know I don’t want to be discipled by a person not attending and not caring to attend church who is not being fed and led regularly.  I don’t want to be a part of missions that is trying to function apart from local leadership and accountability.  Fellowship is not fully realized or glorifying if it’s kept separate from corporate worship.  When we become comfortable with not worshipping with the local church body, when we dismiss its importance, we are in trouble.

The worldly professors of faith don’t understand the vital importance of this biblical and physical fellowship.  Church gathering is an unnecessary risk to them.  To them, the gathering together to worship the Lord as the local Church body is expendable.  Perhaps they have always desired an excuse not to partake in it.  Perhaps they don’t want to be under any real leadership, they don’t want to serve weekly, they don’t want to extend themselves or they simply fear the wrong things.  Perhaps they aren’t even Christians.

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be evident that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19

You are right Mr. Warren, without worship we believers have nothing.  Worship of the true God is core to the Christian faith.  He deserves our daily and devoted worship.  Assembling with other believers is so vital that God said not to forsake it.  It is so vital, that for millennia, believers have risked their own lives to have it.   

Mr. Warren, the fundamental weakness I believe COVID-19 has revealed within the church is the fact there are so many tares among the wheat.  There are far too many of those professing to be followers of Christ who truly do not desire to love God and His Church, who don’t fear God.  More of the tares are being exposed as the pressures and fear tactics of the world increase.  These sort of weaknesses will always be in the churches, most times hiding until trials come.  When trials come and Satan tests the devotion of the tares, asking them to compromise, they will most certainly compromise and not think twice.    

Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you.” Hebrews 13:15-17

Warren’s full interview:

https://www.relevantmagazine.com/faith/church/rick-warren-on-the-year-we-had/

Through the Narrow: When our Children Don’t Believe – By Gina Cook

Sadly, a child may be brought up properly in the Lord and still reject Him. The more light in one’s home; the more Jesus is glorified, the more His sword is evident.

We can often times look at other faithful Christian families and the sweet faces of their obedient and well-versed children and assume those parents must have all of their spiritual ducks in a row.  We wonder where we went wrong as our children only grow further from the Lord.  We are tempted to compare ourselves to the other parents, sometimes causing great and unnecessary discouragement in our own walk.  Although parents are called to lead their families in the Lord, and should take that responsibility seriously, I believe it’s also important to remember no matter the Christian family and what they do, their children may not respond in faith. 

Charles-Spurgeon-Quote

The family with Jesus

Joseph and Mary were faithful and humble followers of the Lord who had been chosen by God to be a part in His miraculous earthly arrival and given the blessing and honor to care for the growing Jesus.  They were people who loved and trusted God and His Word, and undoubtedly demonstrated this devotion to their entire family.  Sadly they also had to witness the rest of their children doubt Jesus as Messiah.  Their children, even into their adult years, didn’t believe.  The Savior was right there among them and still, they refused to see Him any more than just an obedient brother.  Sadly, they later came to the desperate conclusion that Jesus was insane (Mark 3:21). How heartbreaking that must have been for their devoted parents.

We know Mary and Joseph had four sons and an unknown number of daughters after Jesus was born (Matthew 13 and Mark 6).  It seems none of the siblings believed in Christ as Lord until after HIs resurrection (1 Corinthians 15, Acts 1:14).  After Joseph’s death, Mary didn’t have the spiritual support from the others in her immediate family.  Mary sat weeping at the cross where Jesus had to appoint the Apostle John as her caretaker because her actual sons were not only absent but simply not spiritually fit to care for her.  

“Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” John 19:25-27.  

It was obviously very difficult for the half-siblings to have a perfect older brother.  He wasn’t only perfect, He was the reason for your parent’s joy and salvation.  Joseph and Mary unquestionably had a special relationship with Jesus.  That probably caused resentment and the resentment only intensified as the years went on and as Jesus began to display His deity and preach His Word.   The level of rejection by those who were acquainted with Him the most is summed up in Mark 6:3-4: “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.”

As believing parents with unbelieving children, there is something we can really learn from that statement and from the unbelief of Jesus’ household.

The more righteousness and perfection is displayed in a home, the more the unbelievers may fight against it.  His perfect righteousness had only magnified the reality of the unbelievers’ desperate state; of their own wickedness.  

Jesus was loved and honored by his parents. Truth was personally present amongst the entire household.  The Light was living and breathing next to them.  Perfection resided with them and constantly showcased righteous living.  That exposed them all the more.

So we must remember, the more Christ is loved and honored in our own home, the more truth we hold fast to, the more righteousness we desire and exercise, the stronger our convictions and the deeper our knowledge of God’s Word, perhaps the greater hardening and quicker turning away for those in the house who are unrepentant.  

It’s the harsh reality that we read about in Matthew 10:34-36:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.”  

Sadly, a child may be brought up properly in the Lord and still reject Him.  The more light in one’s home; the more Jesus is glorified, the more His sword is evident.

As Charles Spurgeon said, “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins.”  In a Christian household, one child may be softened and saved and the other may be hardened and distant.  That shouldn’t cause us to hold back our love and devotion to the Lord and His Word.  We should strive harder to live for Him and share His Gospel.  We know the Gospel is the power of God for salvation.  

My own heartache

I’m going to give you a glimpse into the heartbreak of being a mother of unbelievers.  

I’m a mother of five wonderful kids and have been blessed with a stepson.  Their ages range from 6 to 23.  With a couple of adult children, a preteen, and two elementary-aged kids, we’re living in almost all phases of parenthood.  There was a time I thought I had a handle on this parenting-in-Christ thing.  It was when I only had two little ones to care for.  In our pretty little picture, we loved Jesus, talked about Jesus, prayed to Jesus, sang sweet songs to Jesus, and involved ourselves in the church activities with others like us.   As they grew, my kids were taught the serious things about God, not just the comfortable stuff.  We highly value gathering with the Church body and serving.  We pray together.  We test all things to Scripture and call out error when we see it.  We share the Gospel often.  

The point of saying all of this is to say the Truth is honored in our home- He is loved and desired- although very imperfectly. My husband and I know we are far from where we need to be as followers of Christ and parenting the way most honoring to Him, yet Christ is still central.

My kids have heard the whole Gospel countless times and each one has made a profession at one point.  Some of our kids have shown fruit.  Some have completely dropped their interest in Christ like a hot potato and have run in the opposite direction.  I have spent countless nights, tearfully praying for my children’s salvation.  I have had some very tough conversations with them.  I’ve pleaded and warned.  Seeing their resentment towards the Lord and hearing how the belief of Creation or in Christ Jesus is “not reasonable”, is devastating as a parent.  

It’s the bitter reality many of us face; no matter the upbringing, children will not always follow the way they are taught and shown. Sadly, this has been the reason for unnecessary shaming.  Parents of unbelievers may get the side-eye from others in the church.  They not only feel guilty but encouraged to feel guilty for something they can’t control. I’ve actually heard a church leader accuse a faithful family of being the cause of their children’s rebellion towards God.  They were unloving “legalists,” he said.  Looking closer, it was obvious they weren’t legalists, they were just unwavering on the Word of God and purely devoted to Him.  Their love for the Truth was solid; their love for Christ was unwavering and it caused divisions with their older children.    

Imagine going back in time and seeing Mary and Joseph’s other children as unbelievers.  Would that cause us to question Mary and Joseph’s heart with God?  Would we assume as parents they hadn’t taught God’s Word or enforced it appropriately with love?  Would we start to wonder if they were legalists?  We know Mary was a humble and submissive servant of God (Luke 1:28, 38, 48).  Joseph, called a righteous man (Matthew 1:19) was obedient to God and led his family in the instruction of God (Matthew 1:24, Matthew 2:14, 21).  They were obviously very faithful and humble people, who loved and obeyed Him.  

Would we accuse Mary and Joseph of being spiritual failures with their family?  No.  Yet these are the accusations we sometimes find ourselves spewing or receiving.  When we see faithful parents with unbelieving children who’ve gone off into the mire of the world we shouldn’t be too quick to assume the parents have failed their children.

First of all, Christ is the One Who saves.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Christ gets all the glory.  It wasn’t Mary or Joseph who eventually opened the eyes of the other children.  It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 we read, “For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”  In verse 7 we see Christ revealing Himself post-resurrection to his half-brother James.  It is Christ Who reveals Himself to James. Then we read in Acts 1:14, “All these were continually devoting themselves with one mind to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”  Praise God!

John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

No one else can open eyes or soften hearts towards God but God Himself, through His Word.  

With that said, the Scripture is clear parents have a great responsibility to honor God and His Word.  We are given charge over our children’s spiritual nurturing.  All Christian parents are to teach the Word to their children and live as godly examples.  We want to be careful to not be a source of stumbling with any unnecessary provoking, discouragements, complacency, false teachings, or lack of compassion.  Perhaps we need to evaluate our parenting as we read the Word and be prepared to make some needed changes.  Perhaps we need to be more prayerful and intentional in our family devotions.  It’s true, we can always improve!  May God reveal any sin in us as we meditate on His Word.  

We do have a great responsibility but we are not the producer of our children’s faith.  Only God gets the glory and praise for that.

There is Always Hope

As we watch our children walk in the world, we should remember there is still hope.  We never want to say that there is no hope for our lost family.  We always pray for the prodigal’s homecoming.    

Even for a child not being raised by Christian parents there is hope.  No matter their childhood, a person can be saved.  I’m proof of that. With God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26).  I know there are single mothers out there who love the Lord and grieve over the fact of the father is nowhere in the lives of their children. They see this causes the children to harden their hearts towards God even more.  The mothers do all they can but the resentment only increases in the teen years and early adulthood.  Godly fathers are extremely important and influential, the Bible is clear on that.  These single moms wonder if having no father, or no Christian father, means there’s little hope.  Timothy’s father was not a believer in the Lord.  His mother and grandmother were, and they lovingly and unwaveringly taught him the word of God.  Paul said to him, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelled in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”  (2 Timothy 1:5).  Paul also writes to Timothy “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Timothy 3:15).  Again, it’s the work of God through His Word that is the power of salvation.  

For any parent, keep shining the love and truth of Christ in your home, even if it makes clearer the division between you and your children.  

Keep teaching His Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) and most importantly don’t forsake your first Love (Revelation 2:1-7).  

In Luke 18:1 the parable of persistent prayer starts out with this:  “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not become discouraged,”

Keep praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and don’t let discouragement take root.  Rest in Christ and His loving-kindness, almighty power, and willingness to hear your prayers.  Most of all, rest in His will no matter what it may be.  Several times Mary and Joseph exhibited their faith in the Lord although they endured ridicule and heartache.  They didn’t always see the fruit they desired to see.  Joseph didn’t live long enough to see his sons come to faith.  When we are at peace with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son we know, no matter what, we can trust the Lord with everything.  It’s all in His hands.  We are only His vessels.

For you parents who love the Lord and His Word, who teach their children the way they should go and yet have painfully witnessed your children’s growing disdain for the truth of God and increasing desire to live for the world, I hope this helps encourage you to remember there’s still hope for your children, don’t stop praying, and don’t beat yourself up.  God can work through impossible circumstances.  There is still hope and joy in the Lord no matter what His will is and no matter if your prayers seem unanswered.

What an amazing ending for Jesus’ half-siblings, that after years of deep resentment and jealousy and of viewing Jesus as just an insane man, they came to not only believe in Jesus as Christ but to be mightily used in their faithful service to God. 

Those who heard Him said, “And so who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27

All glory be to God!

Here are some links to check out:

https://www.gotquestions.org/godly-parenting.html

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-394/james-the-brother-of-our-lord

Through the Narrow: Deceived Humans Deceive – By Tami Dykes

The Ironsmith uses his tools every day, heating them up and fashioning the iron, shaping it with his hammers and fire, and his own strength.  

The Carpenter measures and marks and cuts down trees using his tools and his own strength to build. They work long hours and becoming worn down, and tired. To keep up their strength they take breaks to eat and hydrate. They are limited by their own abilities and they are reliant on fire to keep them warm, and on the plants they eat. So many elements of nature help them stay healthy.    

They know that fire fueled with wood or coal helps them stay warm and also helps cook their food. God is good to them in so many ways because He has provided all they need to live. God has grown the trees they use to build homes and furniture. God has grown the plants they eat and provided the water they drink. God made the iron to make the tools they work with and pots they cook with.  

Yet, they craft statues to worship out of the same trees they make fire with to stay warm and to cook their food. They craft idols out of the same iron they use to make tools, weapons, and pots.  

These statues can’t talk, see, hear or walk but are seen as powerful and people bow down to them asking it for help and to keep them safe.  

If men can’t save themselves how is it, they believe they can carve and fashion out of a piece of rock, wood, or iron statues to save them?  

If they themselves don’t have powers to do what they are asking a statue to do, then how can it have power? How is it they don’t realize they are being helped and saved by the very things they already use that God has created and grown for them?  

If my tiny story sounds familiar it is because we read it in the Scriptures.


Isaiah 44: 9-20  

All who make idols are nothing,
    and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
    they are ignorant, to their own shame.
10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
    which can profit nothing?
11 People who do that will be put to shame;
    such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand;
    they will be brought down to terror and shame.  

12 The blacksmith takes a tool
    and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
    he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
    he drinks no water and grows faint.
13 The carpenter measures with a line
    and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
    and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
    human form in all its glory,
    that it may dwell in a shrine.
14 He cut down cedars,
    or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
    or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
15 It is used as fuel for burning;
    some of it he takes and warms himself,
    he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
    he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
    over it he prepares his meal,
    he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
    “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
    he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
    “Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
    their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
    and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
    no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
    I even baked bread over its coals,
    I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
    Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
    he cannot save himself, or say,
    “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”  

I’m not saying it’s a sin to make art or carve or design things. What is wrong is to carve things to worship as if they are gods. I am a freelance artist and I enjoy working with my hands and making art for others and for my own home. I have worked with many media such as drawing, painting, carving, and jewelry. I believe that my art is a gift from God and everything I do with it is my gift to Him.  

What I want to point out is even after thousands of years humans are still trying to make idols, and make their gods out of simple slabs of rock or wood made by human hands. There is nothing I can carve or paint or draw that can become so powerful that it has the ability to save me or to help me in anything I do. Only God can do that.  

Sadly, many people today still believe praying to statues is beneficial in helping us in our daily lives, such as the statue of Joseph.  

Joseph is considered to many Catholics as the saint of workers and fathers and he possesses statues made from plastic to be used to sell your home.  

Almost a year ago we sold our house. It was on the market for some time and an acquaintance of mine shared with me the secret to selling our home. They said, “You need to bury a statue of Joseph in your yard and you will sell your house fast.” Of course, I laughed because I don’t believe in that stuff, but apparently, they did because they did it for their house and seen great results. So many do this when selling their homes and most stories I’ve heard have had positive results even if you’re not a believer. I just want to point out that the Scriptures say that Satan masquerades as the light and can make things happen that you want as well. Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan in Matthew 4:8-10~ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” 

This should teach us that when we pray to a statue and your desire comes true such as selling your home, it’s not the statue that did it. the Statue isn’t alive. Maybe Satan did it, maybe he wants you to believe the statue honored your desire so that you will keep praying to those statues and false gods because that means your focus is OFF of God and on a statue or idol.  Give glory to God for your house selling.

Below is a link that talks about how to sell your home by burying a statue of Joseph. Very mind-blowing.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/st-joseph-prayer-sell-house-how-bury-statue-lori-ballen  


After reading this link I think it’s extremely morbid if anyone believes that Joseph will work harder to sell your house if they bury him upside down because he doesn’t like being buried upside down. Supposedly, it’s a reward to Joseph to be dug back up if he sells your house quick enough and put in a place of honor in your house.  So, is this how people treat their idols of worship? How odd! If a statue has the power to help you why would you treat it so badly? If people honestly believe that a statue doesn’t like being buried upside down, then how horrible of them that they would be ok with doing that. To me, it’s demented to think, “Do what I want Joseph, or I’m gonna beat you or torment you by burying you upside down.” However, these same believers have also turned to Saints and pray to them and worship them if the Saints help them.  


Here is the prayer they pray to Joseph: “Dear Saint Joseph, I know you would do this for me out of the goodness of your heart and in your own good time, but my need is very great now and so I must make you hurry on my behalf.”

“Saint Joseph, I am going to place you in a difficult position with your head in darkness and you will suffer as our Lord suffered, until this [house/property] is sold.
Then, Saint Joseph, I swear before the cross and God Almighty, that I will redeem you and you will receive my gratitude and a place of honor in my home. Amen.”

Ok, that prayer is just wrong in all kinds of ways but the part that is troubling is where it says the person, they “swear” to a plastic statue? What? They swear to the cross and God? That just sends a frightening chill up my spine. People this is demonic and evil. Do not do this! It’s not biblical in any way. That statue was made by weak humans that have no power to give it. Don’t make it your idol.  

Romans 1:25~ “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”  

Exodus 20:4–5~ “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”  

Many people in the RCC also pray to many dead people such as dead loved ones and dead people in the Bible and people that become Saints, and even angels but the most famous one is Mary, Jesus’ mother. The reasons they pray to Mary or any so-called Saint are many. One is that they teach Mary is our mother too and God told us to honor our mother in the 10 commandments.  

Yes, we honor our mothers but we do not pray to them after they have passed. Also, just because Mary was the mother of Jesus doesn’t mean she is to be prayed to or worshiped. We can honor our parents but we do not pray to them or try to communicate with them after they have passed away. When you start talking to or communicating to the dead then it’s not honoring anyone but instead disobeying God and showing worship of another. God says in Deuteronomy 18:10-11~ “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”  

Take note of the bold words “or who consults the dead”. Consulting the dead is basically talking to the dead. Talking to the dead is equivalent to casting spells or witchcraft in God’s eyes or he wouldn’t have put them in the same paragraph.  

Revelation 4:11 ~ “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”  

Deuteronomy 17:2-6 ~ If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to deathOn the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.”  

We are to only worship the Lord and He makes that very clear. God is worthy of our worship because all things have been created by Him. The sun, moon, stars, the whole universe, yet people still look at these objects and think they have power and continue to worship them… even the dead.  

In this verse, God is saying if anyone has been caught transgressing any of His covenants like worshiping any heavenly host then it’s an abomination to God, and He says to kill them. Any heavenly host pretty much means worship of anything god other than the true God, then he feels it’s better for them to die. Now thankfully we don’t have to stone anyone today because Jesus died for us and we only need to repent and turn from the evil deed. But what we need to see is any time we turn to Saints or Mary or angels in prayer then we are indeed worshiping them and that is a serious behavior.  

Isaiah 8:19-20~ “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”  

Another idea people believe as to why Mary should be worshiped is, she is the mother of all people.  

That’s not correct because the Bible doesn’t say that she is, plus if we look further back than Mary, we read the bible says Eve was the mother of all the living first. Genesis 3:20~ “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”  

In Luke 11:27 we read, “One time when Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd proclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed”. Now, this was a great time for Jesus to speak up and honor Mary as his mother and teach us how worthy she is of our worship and praise if we were to truly worship her. However, Jesus responds quite differently by saying, “Blessedrather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28.  

The lesson here was for us to see that Mary should not be focused on but instead for us to be obedient to God’s Word.  

Also, when we look at Scriptures in how Jesus addressed Mary, we see he doesn’t refer to her as mother but instead, woman.  

Mark 3:32-35“A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”   

Jesus is telling everyone that his mother wasn’t his concern at that moment as much as teaching them something about God. Jesus used that opportunity to show them that those that do the will of God are those that are His family.  

John 2:3-5“When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  

John19:26~ When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”  

Now, Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful in calling her woman because ‘Got Questions’ explains that in the original language and culture of that time Jesus was using it as a different meaning such as how we would use the word, ma’am. Scriptures don’t explain this but we just need to understand that Jesus was more concerned in doing the will of His Father in Heaven just as in John 2:3-5 when Jesus tells Mary his time hasn’t come yet. Jesus was meaning that God hasn’t allowed it yet. Of course, we read that Jesus does turn the water into wine but He wouldn’t have if God didn’t allow it. Luke 2:47-49~ “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  

I can speak about my parents that died and still honor them in my conversation by speaking good about them but when I start speaking to them like they can hear me or praying to them then I am worshiping them not honoring them. Does Jesus or anyone else in Scriptures ever instruct us to praise, glorify or worship Mary? In Luke 1:42-44, when Elizabeth, (Mary’s relative) praised Mary when Mary was pregnant, Elizabeth’s praise was because of the blessing Mary had of giving birth to the Messiah…and Mary was very much alive at the time.  

We are told in Scriptures that God forbids us from talking, speaking, praying, worship, or communicating with the dead in any way. The story below tells us how seriously God takes it when anyone consults the dead.  

1 Samuel 28:8~“So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”  

1 Samuel 28:16~ “Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy?”  

A King named Saul becomes fearful of the Philistines making war with him and because God doesn’t answer him, he decides to go to a medium to consult the dead for advice which he knows goes against God’s commands. The dead person King Saul consults is a dead friend of his. Although we know that no one (even Satan) can truly summon up Gods people from the dead, it’s obvious God allows Samuel to appear to King Saul to show His mighty power and to give Saul the message that he will die the following day because he has disobeyed Gods commands.  

1 Samuel 28: 18-19~ “Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”  

What do we know? We are told to Pray to God… only ask God for help, not a statue, not the dead, not the angels, not the sun or moon…approach God in prayer…present your requests to God…. when you pray; pray to your Father.  There is only one mediator between God and men and that is Jesus…Timothy 2:5~ “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (One intercessor)  

Jesus says “You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it,” Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and Him and Him only intercedes for us.  

1 John 5:14-15~”This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”  

Philippians 4:6-7~”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  

Matthew 6:6~ “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  

John 14:13-14~“You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  

Romans 8:34~ Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”  

Hebrews 7:25~“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  


Jeremiah 10:2-16~ “Thus says the Lord: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz. They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earthquakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment, they shall perish. Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the Lord of hosts is his name.”  

Brothers and sisters, please let this be a reminder of how seriously God takes the worship of other gods and consulting the dead. No one has the power the Lord does and no one deserves the glory our Lord God does. Warn others of this because even after thousands of years we still see this practiced today. How is it we can’t understand statues are not alive, the dead have no powers and neither one should take the place of our Almighty Father and Creator?  

Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford

Through the Narrow: Is Nice Kind? – By Gina Cook

Almost every chapter of the Gospels makes some reference to His running battle with the chief hypocrites of His day, and He made no effort whatsoever to be winsome in His encounters with them. He did not invite them to dialogue or engage in a friendly exchange of ideas….. This approach would surely have earned Jesus a resounding outpouring of loud disapproval from today’s guardians of the evangelical protocol.

I know a guy who is pretty much John Wayne incarnate. Most who know him agree. His looks, his demeanor, his voice, his values… the inability to mince words or hold in his opinion for too long. Mr. Wayne has made a few people cry. Made others look for an exit door. He may very well tell you to get a better-looking hat but he’ll buy it for you and never ask for a dime. He’s a bit softer around his grandkids but never a push-over for anyone. It’s been known that in the stormy weather of life, some grew closer to him because he was the only one not tossed around by all the nonsense. He’s the one giving the shirt off his back when you least expect it. He won’t say a whole lot of warm and fuzzy, but no one doubts he cares somewhere deep under that leathery grit.  

I also know someone who is like the cunning witch, Gothel, from Tangled. She comes across as the protective “mother” who “knows best”, nicely brushing Rapunzel’s hair but in reality is a fraud, desperately trying to maintain the masquerade for her own survival. The Ms. Tangled I know is appealing, agreeable, great at kidding around and even giving hugs. She plays the Christian sister role with a smile. “You can trust me” is her favorite line. However, as soon as you turn your back you feel the sting of her betrayal. Oh, but on the surface she’s nice. She doesn’t initially make people squirm like Mr. Wayne. She’s got a softer touch, yet will slip poison into your canteen when you aren’t looking.   

How many people today would take their chances on Ms. Tangled? I’ve heard it so many times; “Yeah, they have flaws… but they’re nice! They dress and speak so nicely! I know they care because they say they do… and they’re nice!”  

People reading this may ask, “is being nice a bad trait?” “Aren’t we to be kind?” “Harsh truth is not good, right?”

It depends… yes….and it depends.

Being nice is defined by the world as being pleasing and agreeable. Those are not bad things in and of themselves, after all the Bible says, “Urge slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be pleasing, not argumentative,” Titus 2:9. He also says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

There is a time for pleasing and agreeable words and attitudes.  

The problem lies within the interpretation, over-emphasis, and even the worship of what is deemed as nice today. I believe what we are seeing take over our society, and sadly our churches are the false doctrine of having to come across nice and pleasing at all times.  

Nice is the Gospel. Nice is everything. Jesus can’t do anything without it.  

Truth is, people just want to feel nice. They want a nice world. They want to look at nice things. They often time get onto social media and become the spokesperson for “nice”. They ask, “what would Jesus do” and then follow up with something nice.  

Being nice, of course, isn’t bad in the right context. We Christians just can’t always be agreeable or pleasing.  

Kindness, however, is what we are called to exhibit as Christians. Kindness is much more than just being nice. The Bible talks about kindness a lot. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Galatians 5:22 (See also Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12, Acts 9:36-41). The Greek word for “kindness” is chrēstotēs, which means “benignity, tender concern, uprightness.” 

Kindness is not about surface agreeability or pleasing others, it’s about compassion, gracious and truthful speech, and acts of love. Kindness is not making sure to never rightfully offend. To show kindness is oftentimes to die to self, even risk being snarled at and getting your hand bit. The end means of kindness is for the kindness of Christ to be known.  

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

Proverbs 27:6 

Kind and pleasant speech as the Bible talks about in Proverbs, for example, does not tickle ears. Kindness is deeds fueled by the love that seeks the best for others, even those that hate you. 

“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21

Kindness doesn’t always feel good. What’s more kind and loving than pushing a man out of the way of a car? You may break his ribs but his life is spared. He may not feel good, but he’s alive. Who would object to saving a life?

At the time of writing this, we are a few weeks removed from celebrating Reformation Day. On this day we celebrate God’s work through imperfect reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, John Knox. We also appreciate the men who came later, such as Charles Spurgeon, who boldly preached the Truth in times so depleted of sound doctrine.  

God used them to bring people to their knees and repent. Countless people. The impact was so immense, the world was radically affected. It was apparent souls were desperately needing Truth. 

The Reformers boldly stood for the Word of God and even gave their life for it. Although imperfect, they loved the Lord, His people, and the Scripture. It showed. They faithfully preached on the kindness of God and they showed kindness themselves, yet… they were not necessarily the nicest of speakers or known for their appeasing speech. They didn’t care to make people feel nice. That doesn’t save souls.  

A few of their quotes:

“If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.” ― William Tyndale (speaking to a priest)

“Your thoughts of God are too human.” – Martin Luther (speaking to Erasmus)

“The world doesn’t want to be punished. It wants to remain in darkness. It doesn’t want to be told that what it believes is false. If you also don’t want to be corrected, then you might as well leave the church and spend your time at the bar and brothel. But if you want to be saved-and remember that there’s another life after this one-you must accept correction.” Martin Luther

“The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.” John Calvin

 “A man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot” John Calvin

 “To search for wisdom apart from Christ means not simply foolhardiness but utter insanity.” John Calvin

 “Right is right though all condemn, and wrong is wrong though all approve.” Charles Spurgeon

 “You and I cannot be useful if we want to be sweet as honey in the mouths of men. God will never bless us if we wish to please men, that they may think well of us. Are you willing to tell them what will break your own heart in the telling and break theirs in the hearing? If not, you are not fit to serve the Lord. You must be willing to go and speak for God, though you will be rejected.” Charles Spurgeon

They had lived up close and personal to the cesspool of deceit. It carried the stench of death. People they knew and loved were perishing in false doctrine and being abused by false teachers. A massive amount of people were slumbering in their sins and dancing straight to Hell. Nice and easy wasn’t going to cut it.  

Of course, the Reformers were in no way the originators of such an approach.

The Old Testament writers, the Apostles such as Paul and Peter and ultimately Christ Himself said some pretty harsh truth.  

“Do not withhold discipline from a child;

 Though you strike him with the rod, he will not die.

 You shall strike him with the rod

 And rescue his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13-14

“One who loves discipline loves knowledge, But one who hates rebuke is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

“But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.” (Peter to Simon the magician) Acts 8:20-23.

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” (Paul talking about having to confront Peter) Galatians 2:11

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

In John MacArthur’s book, “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ, in the first chapter titled, When it’s Wrong to be “Nice” he writes, “The Great Shepherd Himself was never far from open controversy with the most conspicuously religious inhabitants in all of Israel. Almost every chapter of the Gospels makes some reference to His running battle with the chief hypocrites of His day, and He made no effort whatsoever to be winsome in His encounters with them. He did not invite them to dialogue or engage in a friendly exchange of ideas….. This approach would surely have earned Jesus a resounding outpouring of loud disapproval from today’s guardians of the evangelical protocol. In fact, His approach to the Pharisees utterly debunks the cardinal points of conventional wisdom among modern and postmodern evangelicals—the neo ….evangelical fondness for eternal collegiality, and the Emerging infatuation with engaging all points of view in endless conversation. By today’s standards, Jesus’ words about the Pharisees and His treatment of them are breathtakingly severe.” 

(taken from http://www.crossroadsbook.com/firstchapter.asp?mode=view&index=1054 )

Were Paul, Peter, and even Christ Himself unloving? Unkind? Is the severe approach wrong? 

On the contrary!  

Although we are not to make a habit of going around and rebuking brothers and sister harshly or publically or calling people hypocrites, we can gather from the Bible’s examples that the truth is profoundly important and we can’t compromise it or dance around it. We also see what true kindness looks like. It’s not as much about sparing feelings, as it is sparing souls the judgment or severe discipline of the Lord. Not only did the men in the Bible rebuke those they were speaking to, but they graciously shared with the many hearers who need to know what’s right and what’s wrong. That is loving-kindness.  

“For such people are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Romans 16:18

Today people are making some very serious decisions based solely on the “niceness” of others. They are attracted by smooth and flattering speech. It is a dangerous thing to look to be led by what’s likable instead of what is right.  

After witnessing to a close family member with concern in my heart, tears in my eyes, and loving conviction in my voice, she walked out the door and said she never wanted anything more to do with me or my God. She didn’t see me as nice, that’s for sure. I looked every bit the part of evil in her eyes at that moment. Yet that was far from true. Praise God, He used the truth spoken to break her and bring her to repentance a while later. The truth sets us free (John 8:32)! God’s Word is a sword, not a fan (Hebrews 4:12). The Word is a hammer, not a feather (Jeremiah 23:29). Christ is a stumbling block for some (1 Corinthians 1:23), hated and rejected by many (John 15:18). He is not concerned about being nice. He is concerned about the providing of God’s truth in love.

“Peace if possible, truth at all costs.” Martin Luther

If I had to choose between hard truth and nice veneer, I’d take the truth in John Wayne’s style over nice and sweet nothings any day. Any person who has been devastated by “sweet little lies” should agree. Anyone who sees sin and false teaching ravaging souls, should be more concerned about the Truth and doing good than sparkly words and happy feelings.  

Yes, we are to be peaceable, gentle, gracious in our speech and always with a heart of compassion, and to know that doesn’t mean suppressing the truth of God. People may be in grave danger with the Lord! Let them know if you care, even if they don’t see you as nice for doing it. Ultimately, we are to please the Lord, not man.

“For am I now seeking the favor of people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10