earnestly contending for the faith


The number of prayer requests from people having a really difficult time sometimes overwhelms me. Some are dealing with being out of a job, and other ones are fighting to stay alive or have a loved one in that battle. Whether it is life threatening or non-life-threatening, there is still stress, a sense of helplessness, and an overwhelming desire to do something to end the trial or reduce it to a livable level. Anyone who has been in harsh trial knows that it doesn’t come to a finish by our timetable. So we often cry for help.

I have pity for people who do not know God, and that have never had the experience of the Holy Spirit comforting their souls. They do not know the One that is at the other end of a genuine prayer of faith. Their almost immediate response when something knocks their life into a spin is to find a solution in the world system. They turn to alcohol, to a doctor for a prescription drug that will dull the effect of what they are dealing with, or illegal drugs that shut out reality by making them unable to recognize it. But that’s like sleeping drunk in a pen full of snakes. They’ll still be there when they wake up and will likely strike if they move.

Someone may ask, “Okay, so people of the world have hardships, but why do bad things happen to Christians?” As Solomon wrote long ago, “time and chance happens to us all.” Although the true Christian may avoid many of the dangers associated with sinfulness, we are susceptible to the woes that come with living in a sin-cursed world. We get sick, have accidents, and may suffer because of someone else’s mistakes or bad decisions, or we may die. Christ warned us that in the world we would have tribulation.

But here’s my point. Lost people must try to make do with what is available to them in this temporalness. However, the child of God reaches into eternity when the desperation of a crushing trial drapes its smothering dread around his or her shoulders. It doesn’t always end the trial, but we find strength to endure until we can come out the other side of it.

I remember when I was in a trial so brutal and suffocating that I literally reached the end of my hope. No matter how long I live I will never forget its crush on my spirit. I thought I was tough, that I could stand no matter how difficult the battle became. But I was wrong. I was out of options and out of hope. All that I could do was to stumble out the back door, go halfway down the porch steps, sit down and say, “God, I hurt.” Then I wept profusely. God gave me the strength to endure it.

Why did God let me go through that? For what possible good purpose was it that one of His children should suffer to such a degree? The answer is that some changes that must occur in us can only happen painfully. Additionally, some experiences essential to understanding how to effectively use the gifts God imparts to us are acquired with pain.

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Apologetics and the “IF:Gathering” with Cedric Fisher (part two)

Berean Call Radio

Tom: We’re in part two of my discussion with Cedric Fisher. He writes for Lighthouse Trails Publishers, and his apologetics website is Last week we opened up with just talking about apologetics and how important it is, and this week what I’d like to do is talk about one of his booklets, the title of it being IF It Is of God: Answering the Questions of IF: Gathering. So, Cedric, thanks for coming back that we can discuss these things on Search the Scriptures 24/7.

Cedric: And thank you for having me on the program, Tom.

Tom: Cedric, as I mentioned, we are co-publishing some of these booklets from Lighthouse Trails, and they’ve just been wonderful, and certainly the book that I read, the first one that I read by you, the title of it is IF It Is of God: Answering the Questions of IF: Gathering. And the topic was something I wasn’t familiar with, but I found it – reading your booklet, I found it very informative. What I’d like you to do is give us just some background. Why did you address this book? And just give us some background as to what this is about.

Cedric: Well, the IF: Gathering is a – I’d consider it a movement, founded by Jennie Allen, that basically operates from outside of the local churches. I would call it a parachurch organization. They form little local fellowships that they call IF:Table, and they are able to go inside of the church and get some converts or get some adherents from the church, and they indoctrinate them with whatever IF is producing. And that happened in our local area, in our area with one of our local fellowships, and somebody that was dear to me. And as soon as I heard what was being said, the alarms just went off, and I thought, “That’s not right.” And so I began to research it and the more I researched it, the more I realized this was not a healthy movement, not something that I would advise anybody, any woman, to get involved with. It’s a woman’s movement, but I wouldn’t advise any woman to get involved with this movement.

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I was astonished as I watched Millennial megachurch pastor Steven Furtick in a 2018 video accuse the Lord Jesus of being sneaky.[1] It wasn’t an original concept. The BillyJack Billy band sings on a 2014 album, “Rebel Child,” a song entitled “Sneaky Jesus.”[2] Additionally, “Sneaky Jesus” is a term used by “Christian” bands for the practice of “sneaking” Jesus into their songs so as not to offend their secular listeners.[3] Before that, Jen Johnson, daughter-in-law of NAR leader, Bill Johnson, declared that the Holy Spirit was as a “sneaky blue Genie.”[4]

(Sneaky: “sly, dishonest, devious, mean, low, base, nasty, cowardly, slippery, unreliable, malicious, unscrupulous, furtive, disingenuous, shifty, snide, deceitful, contemptible, untrustworthy, double-dealing.”[5])

There are many other statements by popular leaders in Christianity that indicate that they do not know or understand God, Christ, or much of anything in the Scriptures. However, they are influencing a great number of their peers.

Rob Bell wrote, “I can’t find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners.”[6] He also wrote, “I am learning that the church has nothing to say to the world until it throws better parties”.[7]

Brian McLaren wrote; “The contribution of Liberation Theology, Black Theology, Feminist/Eco-Feminist/Womanist/Queer and related theologies will be as central to the next reformation as white European theology was to the last reformation.”[8](Those are not theologies. Theology is the study of the nature of God. Those philoso-quandarieshave nothing to do with God.)

What Furtick, Johnson, Bell, and McLaren, have in common is they are either part of the Millennial Generation or are among its leading influencers. Obviously, something is very wrong about the theology of all the younger generations. Consequently, there is a great paradigm shift in the making and soon to become the new normal for professing Christians.

To explain clearly it is necessary to explain where the hands are on the prophetic clock. In my opinion, it is indicative that we are well past the prophetic opening of the final chapter of earth’s history. We cannot know how long that chapter is, but we know that several “pages” are dedicated to describing the condition of the world society in the final years. We should not sink into denial about the advent of the Endtimes. Upon some generation(s) it was certain to come. And each generation believed that it would arrive in the future. Every indication is that it has arrived. That’s a scary thought; one that we almost have to force ourselves to acknowledge.

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