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If:Gathering: more information

By Elizabeth Prata

Three years ago I had an inquiry from a sister in the faith about the woman of She Reads Truth and the IF:Gathering. In looking at these two organizations, which feature overlap of the woman who founded and participate in them, I discovered they adhere to and teach an aberrant theology that is unhealthy for woman. A series resulted.

Three years later, the IF:Gathering and its woman have only embedded themselves deeper into the faith and are tainting even more women with their brand of liberal theology, shaky hermeneutics, usurping lifestyles, and their idol of social justice. Continue reading “If:Gathering: more information”

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I’m not broken

Do you hear a lot of conversation these days involving the word ‘broken’ and ‘brokenness’? I do. It is the newest trendy word.

Words matter. They present reality, create meaning, knit a cultural understanding. Words matter.

The Lord revealed Himself to us by His Word. He IS the Word made flesh. He could have revealed Himself to us in pictures, symbols, or any other method. He chose the Word.

We will be judged by our words. Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36).

Words matter.

In Genesis 11:1 we read, “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.” In Genesis 11:7 God said, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” [Literally, ‘one lip’].

How did the LORD choose to restrain man? By confusing their languages. He will reverse that on His Day. Zephaniah 3:9 has the prophecy-

For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.” [literally, “one lip”].

Words matter.

Christians speak the one language of faith. Or we are supposed to, anyway. The Bible clearly explains the important concepts by which we live and construct meaning. They are in words, and the words are: sin, wrath, grace, sanctification, justification, imputation, atonement, good, evil … & etc. When we speak them to each other the meanings of these words should be clear to Christians. When we say, “I am a sinner” we know what we mean. When we say “God is good” we know what is meant by it. “I’m a depraved sinner” is understood. We should be ‘of one lip.’ But we’re not. By dropping and substituting words commonly understood for millennia, we are creating new understandings of the basics of the faith.

In today’s example, no longer are we sinners. We’re ‘broken.’

Brokenness the way it’s used nowadays does not mean what you think it means. In this piece by The Gospel Coalition, the opening paragraph succinctly describes my concerns with the increasing use of the word ‘brokenness.’ Unfortunately, the rest of the essay goes on to state the exact opposite of my point here today, so I don’t endorse the article.

In Christian circles, much has been made of brokenness, vulnerability, and authenticity in recent years. Some have expressed concern that these ideas have been overemphasized while holiness has taken a backseat. Brokenness in this context has tended to be of a faux variety. Much of it amounts to a confession of socially acceptable sins and mommy bloggers making messiness cool.

How does using brokenness the trendy way it is being used in Christian circles underestimate sin’s power? Brokenness evokes minor imperfections, not depravity. It removes the impetus from the sinner as the one performing the sin. We’ve gone from ‘I am a depraved sinner in need of grace’ to ‘I’m broken through no fault of my own and I need a heavenly butler to fix me’.

These mommy bloggers with messy lives authentically telling you about their brokenness are no different from the Pharisees who lengthen their tassels or make long prayers with long faces in order to show they are good.

Showing you are ‘bad/broken’ is no different than the Pharisees showing they were ‘good’. It’s still ‘look at me’. The result is the same also – hypocrisy.

“Maybe wholeness is embracing brokenness as part of your life.” Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way.

Maybe NOT. When we display our shining faces and our heavenly glow, we are demonstrating His victory to the world. Embracing brokenness is not displaying a victorious life.

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:16).

I do not know where these women are getting all this brokenness from, because before we’re saved, we’re not broken and in need of a little fix, as Lysa Terkeurst seems to think-

Brokenness where we are split open. Redemption where God knits us back together. Lysa TerKeurst

Before salvation, we are whole. Wholly evil, wholly depraved. We function unbroken and unabated in a cursed world where we fit in perfectly fine. After salvation, we are not fixed (as is the opposite of broken.) We are made a new creation. It’s not that our thoroughly depraved soul is dented and needs pounding out and fixing like a car mechanic doing body work on a bumper or a little knitting and voila, we’re fixed. We are so thoroughly evil that we must be made a new creation. So after salvation, nothing is broken then, either.

We’re not supposed to promote our brokenness by mooning around with a long face, writing endlessly about how broken we are. Personally, I believe doing so is an insult to Jesus, who saved us perfectly. Lest someone think I am being heartless, I do know that both before salvation and after salvation, we grieve, are bereft, lonely, sad, melancholy, stricken, and all the rest. Life hurts. It really does.

If ever there was anyone who had cause to call himself “broken” it was Paul. He was betrayed, abandoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten, lonely and even at one point “despaired of life”! He wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8,

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

Broken! For sure! But did he write anywhere in the Bible that we should dwell in our griefs? Wallow in brokenness? Embrace it? Never! What a ghastly thought! He wrote,

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Philippians 2:18).

In whatever circumstance Paul found himself in, he urged rejoicing in the Lord. He never urged his people to wallow in brokenness. He never even said that as grief-stricken as he was at times that he himself was ‘broken.’

Sisters, we are not broken. If the current trendsetters using the word mean broken as in prior to salvation, well, before salvation we’re evil and depraved sinners who have no chance to please God, not broken. After salvation, we are a new creature, not broken.

If the trendsetters using the word broken to indicate a certain emotional state, well, call it what it is. Grief, broken-hearted, depression, melancholy, annoyance, overwhelmed. That’s OK, we all feel those things at times. But again, that’s not being broken. And in any case, as Paul said, rejoice, sisters, rejoice! Mooning around with a long face as a broken individual doesn’t earn you any points with Jesus. He said as much regarding the Pharisees, as I stated above.

If you’re sad, depressed, rejected, melancholy, whatever it is, rejoice! I know it’s hard. I’m not making light. But watch the words you say (and sing, and write). Saying that you’re broken is insulting to Jesus and unnecessarily transforming the Christian vocabulary into something trendy and indistinct.

I’m not broken. Are you?

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Are we “broken”? Should we celebrate “brokenness”?

On this blog I’ve mentioned numerous times that words matter. The words we use within the faith to express things do matter a lot. “Our” words should not be changed, or ‘updated’. This is because the faith is born in the mind, kept in the mind, and fought in the mind. Words reflect our understanding of concepts, and when satan attempts to change those words, it changes our understanding of the concept. Therefore, sin is no longer sin, but a mistake. Faith is no longer faith, but following. We’re missional instead of disciples, and we have conversations around the truth rather than proclaim the truth. We’re authentic and on a journey rather than evangelists standing our ground.

Another word that is emerging to change our common understanding of the faith, is ‘broken’ or ‘brokenness’. Over time, the faith has been feminized from Paul’s descriptions of a gritty spiritual war, to a romantic fling with a heroic boyfriend. We’re not, as Paul said, athletes pressing on for the prize, nor are we soldiers fighting for the faith, but we are gentle doves with broken wings looking for someone to fix us.

An example of the prevalence of this word and its concept is author Ann Voskamp of One Thousand Gifts. She has written a new book which was released last week. Its title is, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life. Rick Warren’s wife Kay added her blurb to the review of Voskamp’s new book, describing it thusly,

In The Broken Way, a deeply personal revelation, Ann Voskamp leads us on a journey toward embracing and celebrating the brokenness in each of us. The passionate words that pour from her soul will make you weep and shout hallelujah at the same time. (Kay Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California)

Let’s take a look at what is at the root of this move toward the concept of brokenness.

You might have heard of the doctrine of ‘total depravity’. This does not mean that all humans are totally as bad as they could be. There is such a thing as benevolence in the world, people who help. Total depravity means that humans are born with a total inability to be pleasing to Christ. It is the biblical doctrine that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful as a result of the Fall. Our sin-nature drenches us from head to toe, and there is not one spot, corner, or area of our nature that contains what Christ deems as goodness.

The doctrine understands the Bible to teach that, as a consequence of the the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation. Theopedia.

Total depravity, or total inability, is based on numerous verses. Here are two:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23).

Because we cannot please God in any way of our own works, we need something or someone external to the human condition to resolve this devastating status of our inherent nature. That is why God in heaven sent His Son Jesus from heaven to live the perfectly holy life required to please God, and die on the cross while absorbing His wrath, punishing sinless Jesus for our sins. Satisfied with this sacrifice, God raised Jesus to life and imputes Jesus’ righteousness onto those humans who are called to believe. We become wrath-free and righteous in His eyes.

To the point of this essay, we become a new creation. This change in condition is my all-important point.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15).

Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3).

Brokenness bespeaks of fixing, not of being made new. By its own definition, it means the creature retains some inherent worth, and simply needs a fix in some area or other. To say ‘we are broken’ is to say that we are not totally depraved, not totally unable to please God, do not require anything more than a fix-up in one area or another of this body before becoming pleasing to Jesus.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We are familiar with the hymn Rock of Ages. In the third stanza, we sing- “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling;”

When we are born again, humans retain nothing, absolutely nothing we can reuse in service to the Savior. We are made new, we are a new creation. Teaching about our brokenness is an idea that undermines the critical doctrine of this truth of our position in Christ.

Moreover, when by grace we are saved, we are made whole. Colossians 2:10 says that when we are made a new creation, we have been made complete, full. Other verses speak to this-

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. (John 16:24)

And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)

We begin our lives completely unable, offering nothing of use to Jesus, and when we’re saved, we become a new creation and are completely able to please Him. There is nothing about our lives before or after salvation that is “broken”. Our lives entering through the narrow gate is one of submission and humility. Our lives after entering the gate as we proceed on the path of sanctification include repentance and strength. We go from complete depravity to complete righteousness.

Voskamp’s book and Warrens’ exultation advising us to embrace the brokenness in us is wrong. To do this demeans the Spirit’s ministry which completed us in Christ and is sanctifying us for life. It ignores the verses such as the ones below which advise us to cast away those weights which hinder us in the task of worshiping God and pursuing holiness. I’m not picking solely on Voskamp’s book but any and all teachings so common today which tell women to wallow in brokenness. Hebrews 12:1b-2 advises us to-

lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lay aside the weight of our initial sin which hindered us, a hindrance which we lost at entering His gates. Lay aside accumulated broken feelings after salvation which weigh us down. We have the joy of Jesus. (John 15:11).

Women, you’re not helpless doves waiting to be fixed, you’re gracefully saved spiritual soldiers marching in truth toward glory.

Now, I understand the female notion of teaching to the emotions. I know it’s easier to teach that way, and it’s a basis for a study that will be better received by the students of it. This is because we’re all hurt in some way. Life on earth hurts. We are maligned and rejected. We accumulate a broken heart full of wounds. Our job may break us. Boot camp may break us. We may feel broken as a grieving surviving spouse, overcome by sadness or despairing in some way. Remember the old days when divorced couples were known as having a “broken marriage”? Or children of divorce were from a “broken home”? I understand that sometimes we feel broken. It’s a useful word that describes a temporary emotional state. But it has nothing to do with the permanence of our status before Christ.

Those are emotions, surface, temporal and fleeting. Our basic conditions as humans is either-or. We are either totally unable or we are totally righteous (in His eyes). When we are saved we come with a knowledge that there is nothing fixable in us, we leave with Him our entire nature as depraved sinners and enter His gates with joy, knowing His righteousness is now imputed to us. Nothing of the old is left.

The issue is, are we broken, or depraved?

Or depraved?
photo by Sparrows-love-the-snow

Christian wholeness is a doctrine that exalts Jesus. That and “brokenness” are irreconcilable and contradictory. Every Christian should fully appreciate everything that Jesus has done for us to make us whole in every way. Even though some Christians may temporarily feel broken in some areas of their life, no Christian should be content in remaining broken nor should we seek to become broken. We definitely do not pursue brokenness, as Ann Voskamp’s book teaches, and Kay Warren exults! It’s not pious to do so. It’s sinful because it rejects Jesus’s work which made us into a new creation.

The Holy Spirit who resides in us does comfort us. He helps us. He restores relationships. He is not a fix-it guy of “broken” people, He is God who loves and manifests His glory when He is faithful to His promises to us to comfort, help, and restore.

You might think it’s picky to pick on the word brokenness. But you saw at the start of this essay the words that have already been co-opted and redefined by liberals. It’s important for believers to retain each word describing a foundational faith-concept. Understood, it is the yarn that knits us together into the tapestry of believers comprising the worldwide church. If you pull one yarn the sweater is soon corrupted. Protect our words, they are ours. What they mean communicate important information from God’s mind to fellow believers. They even mean something to unbelievers who hear and see us using them. Ladies, don’t wallow in brokenness, rejoice, because He has made us whole!

But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Matthew 9:22)


The fluidity of word use and their meanings is rife in the world, that’s just the way it is.Yet Christ’s word is eternal, and the meanings of the words of faith should remain so.  George Carlin was a hilarious but profane atheistic comedian who died a few years ago. His incisive and accurate observations on many topics became well-known over his long career. Here is one riff from a comedy set he used to perform regarding how the secular world is unaware of changes in meanings of words. It’s a long and funny set, but too profane in its entirety to post a video of. I post instead a cleaned up excerpt from a transcript. It’s a useful little exercise in tracking word meaning changes over time.

Read the following and you’ll see just how many words have changed. (If you’re as old as I am, that is, lol.)

One of the reasons is because we were using that soft language. That language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I’ll give you another example. Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn’t notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy became partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest-room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity.

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Beware of desiring a vision/dream/word from the Lord

dream women
Women who claim to have heard God’s voice. Clockwise, Kim Smith, Beth Moore, Joanna Gaines, Ann Voskamp.

I hear so many of the false teachers saying these days they had a dream where they were loved on by Jesus and it was so emotionally sweet. Or they say they had a vision where Jesus called her honey and babe and He took her to the zoo so she could have a nice play date. Or they have a word from the Lord where He softly whispered sweet nothings. Or they are communing with Him in a garden and He audibly calls her name and gives her specific career instructions and encouragement and personal promises of success if she would just obey what is already written in the Word. Or they describe their vision of how he showed them how they complete Jesus.
Others hear about these visitations, and become jealous or discouraged that they are not also receiving such personal ministrations from their heavenly boyfriend Almighty Ancient of Days.

Have you noticed that whenever these women speak of having a personal visit/dream/word it is always sweet and wooing, but never GOD-like? Two weeks ago my pastor was teaching on the passage in Genesis 20, the section on Abraham and Abimelech.
Continue reading “Beware of desiring a vision/dream/word from the Lord”