I love church. I love the music, hymns & songs connecting me to my ancestors in the faith, all the way back. I love the sermons, God’s word expositionally preached is thrilling and fascinating every moment the preacher speaks truth to his flock. I love the people, singing praises to the Lord and singing His attributes to each other. Communion is an especially sweet time with the Lord. Just the thought that I can pray to Him asking for forgiveness of sins, and He will forgive them, is humbling. Dipping the bread into the wine is an act that Jesus performed as His last supper, when He instituted the ritual. My arm picking up the bread and dipping it feels like a long line holding me to time past, and in between, and the now with a oneness with all the other believers who have done the same thing. Continue reading “Art and beauty have a place in church”→
People don’t refer to cardinal directions of north, south, east, west very much any more. If someone asks for directions and you tell them to go north three blocks, they look at you like you just lapsed into Hindi.
In the days before we were too reliant on GPS, people traveled by using the sun, moon, and stars. They spoke of cardinal directions.
In the Bible there is a lot of talk about the east and the west. (Of course, north and south is also spoken of but I’m concentrating on east-west today).
East is a major direction in the Bible and not just for the directions, but for the symbolism. Let’s look at a few examples.
The Garden of Eden was planted toward the east. (Genesis 2:8).
The scriptures specify the LORD placed cherubim at the eastern entrance of the Garden, to protect it and the tree of life.
After God drove out the man, He placed a cherubim with flaming sword to protect this eastern entrance. (Genesis 3:24).
When God’s glory comes/came to the Temple, it comes/came from the east:
Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:1-2).
The wise men followed the star which had risen in the east.
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:2 KJV)
The Lord will return from the east. (Matthew 24:27): For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
The sun rises in the east and its rays shine from that direction. John 1:5 says God is Light, in Him there is no darkness at all. The west is where the sun sets, bringing darkness. The east is where the Light is.
When the sun rises, the light comes from the east. When the Son returns, His Light comes from the east.
There is much more that can be studied on even so mundane a topic as cardinal directions. The wonder of the Bible is that you can take practically any topic, any word, and explore. And do you know what you will come up with?
That’s why the Bible is so great. All scripture points to Jesus.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)
If you listen to old time radio pastors from the 1930s through 1950s and later, each one at some point, has said that this generation of church-going Christians or this era of Christianity is going downhill. Charles Spurgeon famously published an anonymous article actually written by his friend Robert Shindler (with input from Spurgeon himself) addressing a visible downgrade in an 1887 issue of his magazine, Sword and Trowel. That article, and its follow up, famously brought the “Down-grade controversy” to the public’s attention.
A hundred and fifty years before Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards wrote about the devil’s triumph in squelching a religious revival in New England and a lack of religious affections that had become evident in the people.
We can trace the genealogy of apostasy back to Genesis 6, or to Genesis 3. So is it anything new to say that this generation of church-going Christians are weak or falling away, that visible Christianity itself is downgrading itself in a compounding manner, faster and faster as we go? No.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:15-20)
Often forgotten in the prophecies are the warnings Jesus gives to the churches in Revelation. As with many prophecies, there is a near fulfillment that is and a far fulfillment. The 7 letters to 7 churches that open the Book of Revelation were actual letters sent to actual churches and actually read as warnings, encouragements or indictments against them. The second reason the letters were sent was to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God’s truth.
The last verse is the one I want to point to. Jesus is not ‘knocking at the door of your heart’ in this verse. It is obvious he is knocking at the door of the church. The church had become (and will become, like it is now) so pale and non-Gospel oriented that Jesus is outside it! Just think of Joel Osteen’s church at Lakewood and you have a perfect fulfillment of the kind of church Jesus is warning about here. Mr Osteen never preaches sin or wrath or judgment because he doesn’t want to offend anyone, wanting to stay positive. But how can a person repent if they don’t know they are sinning? He refuses to put a cross on his stage, because it might prove an “obstacle to anyone who might come.” But if they are not coming to the cross, what are they coming to??? Jesus is standing outside Mr Osteen’s church, knocking to get in.
That sad indictment is repeated over many parts of the body of Christ today. I pray you find a good church that has solid beliefs, and participate there. Support your pastor, if he stands on the foundational principles of the faith, and preaches them. He is a rarity these days, and precious. Treat him like he is.
The decline of belief is symbiotic. If you attend a church like Lakewood for any length of time, then you will fade into lukewarmness because the fire of wrath and rebuke from a holy God has disappeared. With the full counsel of God being preached, His perfect message of sin & wrath/mercy & redemption is held up and you will grow in Christ-likeness. Without the cross preached, who are the Laodicean congregants growing into looking like? Man, not God.
It might seem strange to say this, but we are not living to live. Living is not the point of our living. Waiting is. We live while we’re waiting.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13).
Paul is giving Titus some instructions and reminders as to our duties as Christians, to be done while we wait.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible reminds us also that this life is a preparatory for the one to come.
To look for the glories of another world, to which a sober, righteous, and godly life in this is preparative: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Hope, by a metonymy, is put for the thing hoped for, namely, heaven and the felicities thereof, called emphatically that hope, because it is the great thing we look and long and wait for; and a blessed hope, because, when attained, we shall be completely happy for ever.
In today’s time it’s not considered mature to speak of prophecy. I believe that’s wrong. I believe that because so many verses stress that we are to look forward, to hope in His coming promises, to wait for His return. I can’t think of a better encouragement than to dwell on His prophecies. This life is difficult. (John 16:33). It’s full of evil people and seducers waxing worse and worse. (2 Timothy 3:13). It’s full of disease, strife, challenge, and vigilance. (1 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Proverbs 28:25, Psalm 46:1,1 Peter 5:8).
We are being trained while we wait. But waiting is our task, our joy, our hope. We should look to His return for encouragement. He is the blessed hope!
It is Reformation year 504. Five hundred and four years ago this October 31st, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Electorate of Saxony within the Holy Roman Empire. Luther wrote,
Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Here are the actual 95 theses if you want to read them: The 95 theses
Luther spent his early years in relative anonymity as a monk and scholar. But in 1517 Luther penned a document attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to absolve sin. His “95 Theses,” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation
Is there any event that is not connected in time by a previous event? Isn’t time a constant stream of events, all tumbling one after another, connected by their confinement to the visible riverbanks by the hands of God? Did the Reformation emerge all of a sudden, or were there catalysts and stepping stones laid first? Were there forerunners? I believe so.
As RC Sproul said, that before Luther there was Hus, (or Huss, spellings vary) who was preceded by Wycliffe, who was preceded by Augustin who was preceded by Paul who was preceded by Jesus.
The reason there are forerunners to Martin Luther and the Reformation is that Jesus never leaves Himself without a witness, and He as Master Husbandman tends soils so that there is always a soil ready to receive the Gospel. Even in “The Dark Ages”, the Gospel was doing its work in hearts. Salvations were always occurring.
Burk Parsons wrote of this connection from one era to the next, the vine as I envision it. It is planted by God and watered by Him, with men springing up along the vine as forerunners to His particular plan and path regarding the Reformation.
John Wycliffe was the morning star of the Reformation. He was a protestant and a reformer more than a century before Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Through Wycliffe, God planted the seeds of the Reformation, He watered the seeds through John Hus, and He brought the ﬂower of the Reformation to bloom through Martin Luther. The seed of the ﬂower of the German Augustinian monk Luther’s 95 theses was planted by the English scholar and churchman John Wycliffe.
–2017 with an emphasis on the Reformation and how our salvation is directly connected to the work of the Reformers. R. C. Sproul writes, “The Reformation was not merely a Great Awakening; it was the Greatest Awakening to the true Gospel since the Apostolic Age.”
During the days that preceded the Reformation, the Bible had been locked away in a dark dungeon by the Roman Catholic Church. They insisted that the Word of God must be heard by the priests, who would speak it only in Latin. The Roman Catholic Church insisted that the common person was unable to understand the Word of God without the aid of a priest. However, they were unwilling to release control of the Bible, and in order to prevent anyone from getting their hands on the Word of God—they would burn people at the stake as an example to all who resisted their authority.
Under John Calvin’s leadership in Geneva Switzerland, thousands of missionaries were being trained and by 1562, over 2,000 churches had been planted in France. In 1560, the Geneva Bible was published which was greatly used in Europe and was also the Bible that was brought off of the Mayflower by the early Pilgrims of America. Through the Reformation, an explosion of gospel missions took place that shook the world.
The Reformation is an extremely important part of church history. One would think with the release of the Bible in the people’s language, the explosion of missions, the work of the Gospel in the hearts of many subsequent to the reformation, that our ecclesiology would progress in an upward trajectory. But satan does not like upward, only downward. He fights back. He fought back since the moment the first Geneva Bibles were released. And the Geneva Bible’s history is interesting in itself! It was the first Bible to be translated directly from the Hebrew. It had extensive notes and cross references, making it the first study Bible. It was translated so that the people could read it. More here.
Sadly, 500 years after the start of The Reformation, there is currently a definite softening toward the Catholic Church by many people who should know better.
Philosopher and poet George Santayana famously said,
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense. Scribner’s, 1905: 284)
We must remain vigilant because we are not unaware of satan’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11). We should learn the past in order to remember the past and to push forward with clear, honest, uncomplicated Gospel evangelization. We shouldn’t ever remain ignorant of what has happened in the past of our church history. This is the 500th year of the Reformation. Here are some resources for you to learn more: The Heresies of the Catholic Church
Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: this is a biography of Margery Kempe, taken from her dictated autobiography. She was born sometime around 1373 and died after 1438, which makes her a devotee of the Catholic Church at a time when both the rise of the Lollards (Wycliffe followers) was gaining traction and also the incessant Catholic pilgrimages to Jerusalem were occurring. It is also set in the time just prior to the Council of Constance. This Council was held between 1414 and 1418, principally to reunite Christendom from the ‘too many popes’ syndrome (schism) but also to examine the teachings of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus and to reform the RCC as a reaction to the attack on the Church’s authority.
Wikipedia lists her as “an English Christian mystic, known for dictating The Book of Margery Kempe, a work considered by some to be the first autobiography in the English language.” Kempe wrote of it all from a first person perspective. I liked the book for its attention to vivid detail on the practices of the Catholic Church, the realities of the pilgrimage journeys to the middle East, the ecstatic visions and examination of same by any and all church authorities Margery could get to listen (anchorites, priests, bishops, other mystics like Julian of Norwich, lay people…)
the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. (1 Corinthians 14:34).
Paul was exhorting about orderly worship here. Worship had gotten out of hand. Worship must be orderly, quiet, and respectful, that was the watchword. And Paul gave that word in this passage.
Is there a time for a woman to holler and throw stools at the pastor? Apparently there was for Jenny Geddes. She’s gone down in Reformation History as someone who stood up for Jesus. Here’s how.
Jenny Geddes (c. 1600 – c. 1660) was a Scottish market-trader in Edinburgh, who is alleged to have thrown her stool at the head of the minister in St Giles’ Cathedral in objection to the first public use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in Scotland. The act is reputed to have sparked the riot which led to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which included the English Civil War.
Well, that’s some stool. It all happened on July 23, 1637 in Edinburgh.
Always independent, the Puritan Scots had become suspicious of the increasing encroachment of liturgy and rigid traditions a la the Roman Catholic Church. They had observed King Charles Is’ coronation rites and were displeased with his use of Anglican rituals. Next came forced use of the Book of Common Prayer, a high Episcopalian book, with its readings in the Apocrypha. King Charles issued a warrant in 1635 declaring his spiritual power over the Church of Scotland, insisting that the Church would be issued with a new book of liturgy which would be read at services. And on July 23, 1637 in St. Giles Cathedral, the Common Book of prayer was opened and John Hanna, Dean of Edinburgh, began to read.
Jenny Geddes sat fuming on her “fald stool” or a “creepie-stool” meaning a folding stool. Finally she had heard enough and stood up and cried; “Deil colic the wame o’ ye, fause thief; daur ye say Mass in my lug?” meaning “Devil cause you severe pain and flatulent distension of your abdomen, false thief: dare you say the Mass in my ear?” And at that she hurled her stool straight at the Dean’s head. This sparked a full scale riot in the church. one congregation member who had been heard uttering a response to the liturgy was thumped with Bibles. The Dean took cover and the Provost summoned his men to put down the disturbance. The rioters were soon ejected from St Giles and the Bishop of Edinburgh appealed for calm. However this was not going to end quietly…
The national spiritual unrest was real, but overlaid upon the spiritual unrest was political unrest too. Hence the riots that sparked the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and then the English Civil War. You can read about that part of the history elsewhere.
Jenny Geddes’ anger at the encroachment of evil into the pure worship service reminded me of another, more recent ‘Jenny Geddes.’
On November 10, 2013, Memorial Church of the Reformation in the city of Speyer, Germany hosted Karl Jenkins’ performance piece, titled “A Mass for Peace- “The Armed Man” where as part of the performance, the Islamic call to prayer is performed by an Imam.
German woman Heidi Mund had heard of this performance, grabbed her flag on which is emblazoned “Jesus Christ is Lord” headed to the church, and bought her ticket. But first, Ms Mund said, she prayed. To make matters even more emotional, the church the performance was to be held at was the Memorial Church of the Protestation in Speyer Germany, constructed specifically in 1900 where,
Its construction was supposed to be a reminder of the protest action that the imperial evangelical states brought to bear in 1529 at the Reichstag in Speyer. The Luther memorial in the vestibule and the adjacent statues of local Protestant rulers serve as reminders of this event.
Having no particular plan, she quietly listened to the music and readings, but when the Imam began praying to Allah in Arabic and saying, “Allahu Akbar!” she felt what she called a holy anger rising up in her. Much like Jenny Geddes, who was righteously aggrieved with the blasphemy in her midst, Mund stood up at this “interfaith event” and fearlessly began shouting that Lord Jesus alone is God and proclaimed His supremacy over all the earth.
If we are confronted with something of like kind, what would be our reaction? There is a time to sit silently and submissively, but is there ever a time for disruption and holy anger? Jenny Geddes threw a stool, narrowly missing the preacher’s head. Physical violence is never appropriate. How would we react to the incursion of evil into a holy place, a place set aside for the proclamation of the pure word? Just food for thought.
Both Geddes and Mund knew of what was to happen during the service. Neither were surprised. Mund prayed ahead, one can surmise that perhaps Geddes had also prayed ahead. In one way or another, we are all confronted with false doctrine creeping in. Start praying ahead for strength in the Lord to react in ways that honor and glorify Him.
———————————— Further Reading
Trivia: Scottish Poet Robert Burns named his mare Jenny Geddes
Sinning. Every human on the planet, no matter his or her age, is good at sinning. Hands down. Me included.
Look at this example from scripture.
Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (Matthew 23:16-21).
What this section of scripture is about is Jesus pronouncing woes upon the Pharisees. The Pharisees were one of the two ruling classes in Israel, the Sadducees being the other. The Pharisees had twisted the faith into something unrecognizable, laying incredible burdens down on the people, (like over 600 laws!) failing to minister to sinners, making sons of hell twice as worse as they were, and being total hypocrites. When Jesus pronounced His many woes upon them, this particular set of woes involved swearing by the LORD and lying.
The Pharisees had cunningly devised a way to appear to swear by the Lord but be able to get out of it later. As Romans 1:18 says, we all know the truth but we suppress it in unrighteousness. They knew what they were doing but they were devising evil in rationalizing what they THOUGHT were clever ways to wriggle out of it.
They THOUGHT that if they swore an oath by the temple and not by the gold of the temple, they could break their oath later with no repercussions. Or swear by the altar and not the gift on the altar, or by heaven and not by the throne in heaven. As President Bill Clinton famously said when he was trying to avoid an answer, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”
Photo Pixabay.com. cc.
Look how finely they were splitting hairs! They were dead wrong, as we read Jesus’ excoriation of their sly practices. All the hairs matter.
But you see how we as humans excel at sinning and rationalizing our sin. We’re really, really good at it. “It wasn’t that bad.” “It wasn’t a real promise.” “No one keeps promises anymore.” “I’m not gossiping, I’m sharing a prayer request.” “It wasn’t as bad as that other guy’s sin over there.” “No one saw.”
All rationalizations are simply self-justifications. And there is only One who justifies, Jesus. Our pitiful attempts to justify ourselves when we sin are just evil blasphemies and vain delusions. When we transgress God’s laws, we injure ourselves and dig ourselves deeper into the pit we will eventually fall into. (Matthew 15:14)
As I go through the day I ask Jesus to show me where I am sinning but I’m rationalizing it away. Where I am too ignorant or blind to see my own sin. I ask Him to help me sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, by the Spirit’s conviction and strength. I am not only the Chief of Sinners, I am Queen of Rationalizations! Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray mine and your walk grows purer with each day and each step. Paul was so wise to pray this for his people:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, (Ephesians 1:18).
Lord open the eyes of my heart so I may see and repent of the sins that lurk there. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. (Proverbs 16:2).
Your eyes are too pure to look upon sin but my eyes are too depraved to see holiness. I need Your eyes, Lord.
We’ve flowed through the first section of this series, in looking at verses that prophesy Jesus’ coming, His arrival, and His early life.
Starting today, from Day 12-16 we will look at verses that focus on Jesus as The Son.
Ligonier: What does ‘the world’ mean in John 3:16?
Ligonier: John 3:16 and man’s ability to choose God
Crosswalk: Why John 3:16 should be more than a slogan
Spurgeon: Devotional on John 3:16, His Love, His Gift, His Son
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son
Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi Offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://the-end-time.org/2022/12/07/advent-thirty-days-of-jesus-day-12-the-son-3/
Seven years ago I wrote a series on the IF Gathering. (2014). Four years ago I did an update. (2017)
The organization reports that in 2021, there were 6,648 IF:Local events in 66 countries. Because this para-church organization is still growing so much, it’s time for another reminder in discerning love and care for women everywhere, to avoid IF:Gathering.
The IF:Gathering and its women 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. After 8 years of watching this organization (since its inception in 2013) we can see by now that it is essentially a female takeover of the church as a feminist, para-church/social justice/liberal organization, where women are drawn out from under their pastoral authority of the local church, fed false notions about Jesus and about our own identity, and reinserted as thorns and weeds to infect the local church with these modernly false ideas, only to turn around and recruit more women to do the same. It’s a multiplying movement that fulfills several scriptures about how false doctrine gets into the church.
Source and video below.
PROBLEM #1: Their premise is based on doubt.
The title “IF:Gathering” comes from their motto, “If God is real, then what?” The purpose statement on their IRS forms is to equip women by having them share their feelings about Bible passages posted online, and the by-product is to instill or institutionalize doubt. Their IRS tax form statement of purpose states:
If:Lead: equipping women to share and learn through Christ-centered discussions
IF:Austin: a two-day gathering that brought thousands of women together in Austin and at local gatherings across the globe. The gathering is a fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question: if God is real… then what?
If:Equip: a holistic, strategic, deep way to connect online with a like-hearted community and relevant resources. We hope to prepare women around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes by sharing comments and feelings about daily passages posted online.
PROBLEM #2: It’s based on feelings we have, not on biblical truths revealing who Jesus is
Did you notice the ‘like-hearted‘ community? The Christian faith is not about feelings, but about what we know about Jesus. It’s supposed to be like-minded. This is an organization that calls their homes ‘spaces’, their local communities ‘contexts’, and their goal is to ‘change the world’. Its mission is to wrestle with the notion IF God is real. Using this amorphous, non-specific language helps cultivate the doubt, which is the opposite of the certainty we are supposed to preserve and promote as believers. We’re believers, not doubters. It’s Good News, not Maybe News.
The ‘gathering’ part is actually brilliant. They aim to disciple women in gatherings at homes, dorms, and other locales, sometimes churches. It’s not public, nor it is under the authority of local churches or of men. Participants know where to gather through social media, which is employed in a major way. It’s why this is a stealth approach to infect the church. Galatians 2:4 and 2 Peter 2:1 said this would happen. Yet discipleship is supposed to take place within and around the local church.
PROBLEM #3: Secretiveness
There aren’t any posters, advertisements, billboards, pamphlets that one can see. They don’t normally make known who will be speaking at the annual large Gathering ahead of time. That’s allegedly so that people don’t come for the personalities but for the fellowship and learning. But would you want to spend time and money to go to a conference without being able to vet the speakers? Or your own pastor helping you vet the speakers?
Instead, there’s texts, social media whispers, person-to-person promotion, all of it done in a way that is more subterranean than any other generation’s Christian activity (apart from the actual persecuted church.)
IF:Gatherings are ongoing in living rooms and lawns by the thousands. There are A LOT OF GATHERINGS. Look. This map is four years old and their gatherings are only increasing in number:
The idea to disciple women is a good one. However, that is an activity that the church is responsible for. These gatherings take place outside of the auspices of the local church and its pastoral authority and is based on curricula that has shaky scripture interpretations at best.
PROBLEM #4: Founded on direct revelation
The gatherings were born from the mind of a young woman named Jennie Allen. At the first Gathering, she revealed that she had heard God whisper to her, and after a few years decided to step out from her church to enact this so-called God-whispered “vision to gather, equip, and unleash women to live out God’s calling on their lives.”
“together with a team of friends, formally established IF:Gathering. … Some of the first friends to believe in her vision put aside their own individual ministries to leverage their collective influence for the glory of God and the good of His Church.” (Source, source).
So they abandoned their local ministries to go online for the good of the global church? Exactly wrong. Here is Jennie Allen claiming direct revelation from God as the catalyst for IF.
PROBLEM #5: Draws women away from local churches, the place where we’re supposed to disciple
They abandoned their ongoing locally accountable ministries, to follow a young woman who’d heard a whisper, in order to establish Bible studies about a God they doubted existed, in order to equip women to discuss feelings about the Bible, enact social justice, reconcile the world, heal the nations, and disciple a generation. Hmmm. I’m not being satirical. All that verbiage is from their own statements.
PROBLEM #6: Feminist oriented
The constant refrain in the IF material is that these women will “change the world” (source, 2022 promotion). This is why I call it a stealth feminist takeover. I’m not being hyperbolic, it’s actual, from their own vision statement
I wonder how it works to be submitted to a local church, yet to draw away women from other churches to come to your house to discus your feelings about direct revelation, extra biblical Jesus while then returning to church to ‘take initiative.’
Conclusion- Concerns with IF:Gathering are:
Founded on Direct Revelation: Founder Jennie Allen said she heard a whisper from God telling her to start a discipleship group. (source, also see above). Direct revelation is hazardous to one’s soul. If you test a direct, audible command from God against the Bible and it’s there, you do not need the audible command. If it is not there, it’s a lie and you don’t need it anyway. That’s a paraphrase from John Owen.
Doubting God: The premise itself is based on study of a God that those who gather doubt exist. IF God is real? Doubt is not noble. The Bible says doubt is a destroyer of life. (James 1:5-8).
Lack of male oversight and involvement and severe emphasis on women-led initiatives: Jennie’s husband Zac says he provides theological oversight, but he is listed as working only 10 hours per week at the 501(c) 3 non-profit, and the only other male on the Governing Board is David Willis for 2 hours per week. The 40-hour/weeks are put in by Jennie and Lisa Huntsberry. It’s Jennie’s baby, she is listed as Principal Officer on the tax forms. It’s led by Lisa Huntsberry who’s listed as CEO. The fact is, it operates as a woman-led, para-church organization with little male accountability or pastoral oversight.
The IF:Gathering’s premise is flawed and so are its goals. Again, from their IRS form, it states that their goals are to foment a ‘global movement’ that ‘promotes healing around the world’. Is that what the Bible says women are to do? Unleash movements? These women are mothers. With children at home. The Bible tells us what we are to do: raise the kids, support the husband. Did even Jesus come to promote healing around the world? And just what IS “healing”, anyway?
Goals are postmodern and extra-biblical: As Tim Challies said, the words reconciliation and healing have a different meaning to the postmodernist liberal than they do to the Christian fundamentalist:
“…perverts the Biblical meaning of “reconciliation.” The Bible does not use this word arbitrarily, but speaks of the reconciliation of man to God and how this can be accomplished. It speaks of redemption! Salvation! Our ministry of reconciliation is not relational healing of myself to my neighbor (right and good as that may be), but the far more important relational healing of a sinful man to a holy God.
The ‘reconciliation’ the IF-ladies intend is the latter, promoting relational healing. Hence their emphasis on feelings and their activity of social justice.
Liberal-to-false teachers as partners and speakers. For example- Ann Voskamp. Does she even know how to use the English language anymore? Below is her tweet. I thought teachers were supposed to be ‘able to teach’. (2 Timothy 2:24). Being able to teach presumes a facility with the language so as to communicate truths in a way that will edify the hearer. Voskamp’s gone beyond #babble all the way to to #Babel.
The list of IF speakers for the recent gathering that concluded in March 2021 is posted but their talks are behind a paywall. Nevertheless, this list is only a quarter of the amount of listed speakers, and demonstrates immediately that the speakers are part of the problem with IF:Gathering leaders’ discernment. Francis Chan, Christine Caine are false teachers, Lauren Chandler and Lysa TerKeurst are heavily suspect, as well as severe concerns with Jackie Hill Perry and Jefferson Bethke (of the ‘Why I hate religion‘ author)
I hope any of this information helps you. IF gatherings are occurring every day in living rooms, dorms, (they are coming for your daughters-)
No town is too small, too rural, too citified or too sophisticated to host an IF:Table. The brand of Christianity the women promote is far from the Bible’s call to obedience for women, due to their emphasis on social causes, feminist living and usurping thrust of the IF:Movement, doubting God, and discussing their feelings. I pray you protect your daughters and granddaughters from any and all IF activities.
IF:Gathering says, IF God is real, then what? Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…” (Luke 4:3, Luke 4:9)