“Christian” Hoaxes and Urban Legends (II)

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As a caveat: I believe in supernatural events, and there are mysterious happenings in this world. My objection is specifically against “godless myths and old wives’ tales” being narrated as truths to further an agenda (1 Tim. 4:7).

“Christian” hoaxes and legends come in different forms. Whether as news reports, stories or testimonials, they are all aimed at evoking an emotional response in the hearers or readers – ranging from fear to excitement.

As Christ’s ambassadors, we can’t afford to the look the other way when our credibility is at stake before the world. We can’t be fighting lies with lies.

We can’t be taking a stand against the myths and delusions of false religions while closing our eyes to the ones being disseminated in our midst.

How can we evaluate if a widely circulated report is a hoax, fantasy or legend?

(1) First determine if the source of the story is credible. If it’s a non-fiction Christian work, you need to check if the main figure of the story is someone whose credibility and honesty are well-known and tested.

There are some Christian materials authored by individuals claiming to be ex-Catholics, ex-witches or ex-Satanists etc. who wouldn’t know honesty even if it hits them in the face.

Much of what they present as their past sojourn in cults and the occult are personal myths which they conjugate into a narrative to make sense of now and control the future.

For example, Ergun and Emir Caners who wrote the book Unveiling Islam, claim to be former Muslims, yet their work is filled with factual errors, spurious citations and questionable sources – blunders that even a Christian who knows about Islam shouldn’t make.

For one, what can we make of their citations like “Hadith 2.541”? That’s as ridiculous as someone citing “Bible 2.541.”

(2) Does it have names, dates, locations and facts that can be checked? When a sensational story or testimony omits such vital details, it’s a red flag.

One major problem I had with the books, He Came to Set the Captives Free and Prepare for War (by Rebecca Brown) was how its stories lacked the markers of time and locations making it quite difficult for one to place the events described in them within a geographical and chronological sequence.

Albert James Dager in his review aptly stated:

Without wishing to belittle the idea of genuine spiritual warfare, no one I have ever known in all my years of ministry has ever experienced satanic attack to the degree that Rebecca and Elaine say they have. If their testimonies are true, they are aberrations with which most Christians cannot identify” (Rebecca & Elaine Questionable Testimonies, Media Spotlight, 1992, 1).

As I said earlier, if the story of the Egyptian Christian woman buried for 15 days was true and it was aired on national TV, it wouldn’t have stopped there. Its details (including police reports) would have been everywhere on the Internet.

(3) Do the major statements made in the story have documentation? Can the claims made in the material be supported by several authentic sources or reference works? If no, then it’s a hoax or legend.

Take for example, the claim that Islam was founded by the Roman Catholic Church through the instrumentality of Muhammad’s wife, Khadija.

According to the tale, Khadija was a Catholic nun who had given her wealth to the Roman Church and joined a convent, but her superiors sent her back to the world and look for a young man who would be an Arabian hero and help destroy the Jews, then she found Muhammad.

She had him groomed and with the help of the Vatican, Catholic priests came from Rome to Arabia to help him write the Quran and establish Islam. Eventually, he turned against them.

Where did this story originate? Wait for it – a comic book titled “The Prophet,” containing the testimony of an alleged ex-Jesuit priest, Alberto Rivera! No footnote, no documentation nor any source in the comic indicated where he got this fantastic story from, yet many zealots have lapped it up.

Rivera claimed he learnt these “secret teachings” at the Vatican yet there is not a shred of evidence to corroborate his claims.

And if those peddling this legend knew a little bit of church history, they would have known there was no such thing as the Vatican in the 6th century. The writer resorted to historical compression to sell his conspiracy drivel.

(4) Does the storyteller seem to aggrandize his/her role in the story? Does he/she artificially inflate his/her importance, power, or victimization in the account?

In 1999 or so, I saw a poster of an alleged ex-Satanist, a Nigerian, who was to share his testimony at a Christian crusade. His past credentials in the ad read: “Formerly married to the queen of river Niger; formerly third-in-command to Satan himself.” That’s a smoking gun.

When a person embellishes his testimony to present himself as a superman or super martyr, even if he claims to be doing it for Christ, it’s all about self.

Some of these people suffer from delusions of grandeur or paranoia and are unable to distinguish between their own fantasies and reality.

Like Doc Marquis who claims to be initiated into the Illuminati at the age of  4 and was made a high priest at 13 and by 17, he was controlling towns in Lawrence and Methuen in Salem and Massachusetts, without being famous.

So a teenager could have the skills and sophistication required to run a coven of adults and control towns without being detected by friends, teachers or parents? Quite impressive.

(5) Are there factual, realistic and reliable data supporting the major claims made in the story? Or do they contradict well-established facts?

In the book Unbroken Curses, Daniel Yoder claims he was sent to a Jewish Kabbala boarding school in Europe at the age of 6 where he was ritualistically abused.

The problem is that, the Ashkenazi Kabbala (the European Jewish tradition) is rarely, if ever, taught outside a strict setting and definitely not in a school. It’s never taught to anyone who is not first a seasoned Jewish Rabbi, 40 years of age, married, and has at least 4 children.

Christian legends may intrigue or entertain but they always contradict facts. Like I noted elsewhere, both Rebecca Brown and her husband, Daniel Yoder, live in their own la-la land of legends and lies and it’s from that detached world that they write.

(6) Watch out for phantom documentations and flagrant inconsistencies.

Phantom documentations are proofs that exist only in the abstract and usually blamed on a conspiracy. Like when someone says, “There are historical proofs for what I’m saying but you can’t find them anywhere because they have been erased from history books by the enemy.”

I used to read a church’s weekly bulletins but at a point, they lost me. After reading dozens of them and their books, I observed a disturbing pattern of the pastor presenting different versions of the same “testimony.” At times he would borrow a story from, say Derek Prince, but in his sermons he would lace it with his own imaginative details – all in a bid to be sensational.

(7) Does the content fits Biblical worldview or does it contradict what the Bible teaches?

There was one “evangelist” Funmi Adebayo who released some tapes years ago titled “990 years in the Kingdom of Darkness,” in which she claimed to have been reincarnated on earth for centuries.

The part that amused me was when she said she was a very beautiful Indian woman in her previous life, and then one day she met Jesus on the astral plane, who then “forced” her to accept him but didn’t remember to fix her raspy, masculine voice.

That a number of Nigerian Christians would open their minds to this woman’s ravings and some pastors would open their church doors to her reflects a shocking demise of Biblical discernment.

There are several fake pages on social media named after famous pastors where someone posts a fake story or a picture of dollars, luxury cars or some other markers of prosperity and then adds a message like: “Type ‘Amen’ and share/send it to 20 people within 30 minutes and you will receive this miracle in 72 hours time.”

When many Christian folks see such posts, their eyes water at the raffle draw and they promptly obey. But a Biblically trained mind can see through such hoaxes; a Christian who understands the Bible knows that God is not a heavenly slot machine, a wishing well or a cosmic lottery.

Our God is indeed a miracle-working God, but He is not amenable to rituals and formulas. Works of fiction may be good in conveying our ideas, but we must not be implicated in presenting them to others as factual truths.

Refutation of “Constantine’s Creation of Jesus”

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One of the fans of this blog’s Facebook page sent me a pamphlet entitled Constantine’s Creation of Jesus Christ by Kerrie French.

This title alone betrays the book’s conspiracy theme. Reading its first two pages, it became clear to me that the write-up is aimed at misleading folks into the Sacred Name Movement (SNM), a sect linked to the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM).

The SNM began within the Church of God (Seventh-Day), propagated by Clarence Dodd in the 1930s.

It seeks to conform Christianity to its ‘Hebrew Roots’ in practice, belief and worship. SNM groups advocate for the use of the “sacred name” of God as Yahweh (though there’s no agreement on this) and Jesus as Yahshua (varied as well) and keeping Old Testament laws.

Now, when a new religious movement claims to have “the only truth,” or an exclusive understanding of an old truth, its truth claims need to be critically examined.

To this end, I will be rebutting the main arguments in this pamphlet. Quotes from it will appear in blue:

It appears that in A.D. 325, a new god was conceived within the black and white marble halls of Roman Catholicism … Constantine’s intention at Nicea was to create an entirely new god for his empire who would unite all religious factions under one deity. Presbyters were asked to debate and decide who their god would be. Delegates argued among themselves, expressing personal motives for inclusion of particular writings that promoted the finer traits of their own special deity (pp. 1-2).

Each sentence here is patently false. There was no Roman Catholicism in the 4th century. Not one single person at the Council of Nicea adheres to the definitive doctrines of Roman Catholicism.

The intention of the Council of Nicaea was to settle a Christological controversy caused by a presbyter named Arius who denied the deity of Christ. It was never about “creating a god.”

It is a rather shameless and deceptive undertaking for someone to distort a documented historical event that is well-attested to by ancient sources in the name of presenting the truth. Even a heathen shouldn’t stoop that low. Here are three standard reference works on the council of Nicea:

Encyclopedia Britannica

New World Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia.com

Throughout the meeting, howling factions were immersed in heated debates, and the names of 53 gods were tabled for discussion. “As of yet, no god had been selected by the council, and so they balloted in order to determine that matter. . . For one year and five months the balloting lasted. . .” God’s Book of Eskra, Prof. S.L. MacGuire’s translation, Salisbury, 1922, chapter xlviii, paragraphs 36, 41 (p. 2-3).

Again, we are treated to mythical assertions. I personally wonder why, of all the councils in church history, Nicea seems to be the favourite dream works studio of conspiracy fiction writers and anti-Christians who re-write history when it doesn’t play their game.

Kerrie laces this paragraph with a source to feign legitimacy, but that is a smoking gun right there.

An entry of the quote and God’s Book of Eskra into Google search engine shows that this quote and its alleged source is identical on all SNM websites. These guys just mindlessly parrot and copy one another without any recourse to intellectual scrutiny.

God’s Book of Eskra is not a historical source. It was an occult legendary book called Oahspe, written by a dentist named John Ballow Newbrough and published in 1882.

Newbrough admitted his work came from spirits (“automatic writing”) without any prior text before him.

The translator “Prof. S. L. MacGuire” was obviously made up since the Oahspe was already written in English.

A search of “S. L. MacGuire God’s Book of Eskra” on WorldCat (a compendium of 71,000 library catalogues in 112 countries) turns up no relevant hit.

These SNM websites got the quote in question from one original source: Tony Bushby’s Forged Origins of the New Testament (2007). Bushby must have fabricated “Prof. S.L. MacGuire” and his alleged “translation” to make Newbrough’s book appear as an ancient source.

So there are three strikes against this one: a false claim, a fraudulent reference and a demonic source. Absolutely invalid.

I invite my readers to read about the council of Nicaea from both Judaic and Catholic sources and draw their own conclusions:

Encyclopedia Judaica

Catholic Encyclopedia

Constantine was the ruling spirit at Nicaea and he ultimately decided upon a new god for them. To involve British factions, he ruled that the name of the Druid god, “Hesus,” be joined with the Eastern Saviour-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ), and thus “Hesus Krishna” [Jesus Christ] would be the official name of the New Roman god (p. 3).

The post-Nicene detour of Roman churches into Arianism and the necessity of the Council of Constantinople to redress this is one proof that Constantine wasn’t the ruling spirit at Nicaea.

The Gaulish god, Esus, has no connection with Jesus (an Anglicized name). This writer fondly imagines that the people at Nicea and the Celtic Druids spoke English language.

According to this goofy reasoning, Constantine picked a Celtic god, joined it to an Indian god to become a “new Roman god”! This nonsense is beyond belief.

The name Jesus is an English transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua or Yehoshua and Greek Iēosus. It literally means “the LORD (or Yahweh) is salvation.” Centuries before a council held in Nicaea, the Bible speaks of several people bearing this name:

Jesus Barabbas, a prisoner released by Pontius Pilate before Jesus was crucified (Mt. 27:16-17 REB); an ancestor of Jesus (Lk. 3:29); Joshua, son of Nun (Acts 7:45); Jesus Justus, a Jewish Christian who with the apostle Paul sent greetings to the Colossians (Col. 4:11) (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Ronald Youngblood, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995, p. 658).

Whether it’s spelled Jesus, Joshua or Yeshua, it means the same: the Lord our salvation (Matt. 1:21).

Changing a name from one language to another doesn’t change the meaning of the name nor does it change the character or identity of the person.

Following long-standing heathen custom, Constantine used the official gathering and the Roman apotheosis decree to legally deify two deities as one, and did so by democratic consent. A new god was proclaimed and “officially” ratified by Constantine (p. 3).

This is straight from the fevered imaginations of Tony Bushby, but with a twist. While Bushby asserts the Bible was formed at Nicea, Kerrie French and his SNM comrades claim a “new god” was proclaimed there.

Notice his choice of words too. He vaguely refers to “heathen custom,” that a man gathered people to “legally deify two deities as one” by “democratic consent.” This is gobbledygook, even by heathen standards.

If there was such a decree, it would be documented. The writer resorts to demagoguery in place of facts. He strings together big words to dazzle his uninformed readers when in actual fact, he’s saying nonsense.

Some authorities, who have spent their entire lives studying the origins of names, believe that “Jesus” actually means— “Hail Zeus!” For Iesous in Greek is “Hail Zeus.” That is, “Ie” translates as “Hail” and “sous” or “sus” is Zeus. Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend, J.C.J. Melford, 1983, p. 126.

 No quotation from the source is given, but on some SNM websites where this line was copied from, the quote appears to have been astutely wrenched from its context.

Notice that the writer talks about “some authorities who have spent their entire lives studying the origins of names,” but gave only one source that can’t even be termed an authority. This is cultic politics of language: maximal claims, minimal output.

Initially, he says Jesus was an amalgam of a Celtic and Indian god which became a Roman god, now he says the name is of a Greek god. This writer couldn’t even convince himself.

The Greek word for “hail” is xaipe or xaipete and it’s not a constituent of the name Iēosus. The name Iēosus is found in the Greek Septuagint, a translation dating to the B.C. era.

First century works of Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, written in Koine Greek also refers to at least 20 different people with the name Iēosus (Jesus) (Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd, The Jesus Legend, Baker Pub., 2007, 129).

That the name ends with “sus” or “sous” furnishes no evidence that it’s from Zeus. That a certain word or word part sounds like another is no proof of commonality.

For instance, it would be insane for someone to say that Yahuwah was stolen from the Sumerian monster deity named Huwawa because of the phonetic similarity. Yet this is the dark, twisted logic being touted by SNM adherents.

Apparently, this new fabricated name was applied throughout the pages of the Scripture’s Renewed Covenant (NT), radically altering every reference of Yahusha יהושׁע (H#3091) the Messiah to “Hail Zeus-Krishna” (Jesus Christ). Deceptively, the reference to Christ was never a Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah, but it specifically comes from the name of a pagan god, Christna, most commonly spelled Krishna (p. 3)

Bear in mind that Sacred Name and Hebrew Roots adherents deny the validity of the Greek New Testament, asserting that it was “originally” written in Aramaic – a claim that is rather a testament to their profound delusion.

Thus, when this writer calls the NT “Renewed covenant,” he is peddling an agendum that denies the plain differences between the Old and New covenants.

He also alleges that the Bible has been “radically altered.” On pg. 4, he writes: “Who said the Scriptures remain pure and undefiled? Should we not be wise to discern what else has been changed, manipulated, or removed?”

This is the convenient cop out cultists mouth when they realise their folly cannot be substantiated by Scripture. The NT was written in Greek, so there wasn’t any need for the Hebrew name of Jesus to be expunged from it. Moreover, His Hebrew name is Yeshua (or Jeshua) not Yahusha.

John F. Sawyer, Professor of Religious Studies at University of Newcastle, England, has this to say about the word “Christ”:

“The word is derived from the common biblical Hebrew word māšîah, meaning ‘anointed.’ In Greek it is transcribed as messias and translated as christos. In the Hebrew Bible, the term is most often used of kings, whose investiture was marked especially by anointing oil” (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, eds. Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, Oxford Press, 1993, 513).

The birth of what is known today as CHRISTIANITY did not exist until Constantine united his empire under the name of his newly fabricated god “Jesus Christ” … Simply, no one was a Christian prior to A.D. 325. All the churches that claim to be Christian today are merely daughters of the Roman stylized system of false worship of “Hail Zeus-Christna” (p. 4).

Certainly, once you eliminate the Lord Jesus from the equation and dismiss the validity of Scripture, the next logical step is to throw 17 centuries of historic, orthodox Christianity under the bus. What you end up with might appear ‘Christian’ but it’s the kingdom of the cults.

This is the logical plinth on which Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and Christian Science cults are based.

They first have to abjure church history to justify their own existence. That way, they can easily claim to be “restoring ancient Christianity.” The logic is: no one got it right until we alone came on the scene.

At least, most of them aren’t ridiculous to the extent of declaring that no one was a Christian prior to 325 A.D.

The Christianized churches continue to utilize the fabricated terms to replace Yahuah יהוה with “the Lord,” and perpetuate the contrived tradition of replacing Yahusha ,יהושׁע the Messiah, with “Jesus Christ” (Hail Zeus-Christna) (p. 5).

Notice a pattern: Each time the writer refers to Jesus, he finds it necessary to include Zeus-Krishna in brackets beside it. This is aimed to program an unwary reader’s mind to associate the name of Jesus with pagan deities even though this lacks a factual basis. This is Pavlovian brainwashing, utilized by most cults.

In the Old Testament, we see that God revealed Himself by different names. In more than 6,000 times, He is revealed as YHWH (often pronounced as Yahweh) which is likely related to the verb “to be” (Ex. 6:6; 20:2).

He is designated as Adonai, which means “lord” or “master” 449 times. Adhon reveals God’s authority as Master, One who is sovereign in His rule (Ps. 110:1; Hos. 12:14).

He is also designated as Elohim, a plural Hebrew form more than 2,000 times (Dt. 32:17; Josh. 3:10) (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Press, 2008, 201).

Therefore, when a group places an extreme emphasis on a certain name of God and builds a castle around it, alleging it is “suppressed information” a cultic mindset is being instilled into its adherents.

Interestingly, in Scripture, the term elohim is also used as a generic term for “god” as when speaking of the Philistine god Dagon (“elohim” 1 Sam. 5:7); Chemosh, the god (“elohim”) of Ammon and Moab (Jgs. 11:24) and Milcom (1 Kgs 11:33). But SNM don’t push out articles on the name elohim.

Here is the point: the context and usage of “lord” determines who is being referred to. When apostle Paul quotes Psalm 117:1 “Praise the LORD (Yahweh), all you nations…”, and then writes, “Praise the Lord (Kurios), all you Gentiles…” (Rom.15:11), every right thinking reader can see that Yahweh is equivalent to the Lord Jesus.

Whether in Greek (Iēsous), Latin (Iesus), Arabic (Yesu), French (Jésus) or Yoruba/Igbo (Jesu), the name of Jesus carries the same power and authority in setting free men from sin and Satan.

The writer says false religious organizations don’t observe “Yahuah’s sacred seventh-day Sabbaths and/or set-apart Feast Days of Scripture … [They are] lacking in the knowledge of the truth unto salvation and the power bestowed in the true sacred names” (p. 7).

Let no legalist or “sacred name” nutter lead us to make an idol out of any earthly language and bring us back under bondage of the Old Testament laws.

This pamphlet states its agenda when it says: “Names have meanings, but it is not proper to translate them” (p. 10).

SNM heretics have so much idolized Hebrew language that they believe any translation of Jesus’ name into any language on earth other than Hebrew must be despised and demonized in every sort of way – whether by hook or crook. That is the fundamental assumption underlying this excuse of a pamphlet.

Nothing in it is new however. For many years, enemies of the Gospel have tried in vain to parallel Jesus with Attis, Mithras, Krishna or Horus.

The difference now is that the atheists, agnostics and skeptics have left it up to modern day Judaizers who claim to be Christians to regurgitate their delusion.

The Two Sides of Faith

We are all familiar with Hebrews 11 and the heroes of faith listed there: Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Samuel, Rahab, Gideon, Jephthah, David and the prophets. Many books have been written about Hebrew 11 and many sermons preached about the heroes of faith who “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (v. 33-34).

Reading their feats ignites our excitement. It makes us want to leap over the pews and shout from the rooftops: “Amen, Hallelujah! Glory!!” And unfortunately, a number of “Faith teachers” have majored on verses 1-34 of Hebrews 11 but curiously set aside the proceeding verses. Is there something wrong with those verses? Let’s see:

Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheep skins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised” (vv. 35-39).

Okay, I see why this part hasn’t been equally emphasized. It’s not “exciting” stuff. It doesn’t make people want to jump over the pews. More so, they refute the theory taught by Word-Faith teachers that: “Once you are born again, all your problems will disappear because you are now a god.” Or “Once you have the key of knowledge and key into my formula of the God-kind of faith, you will never again suffer; you will never fail or become poor or fall sick.”

Hence, in order to sustain their novel theological structure, these folks screen out uncomfortable parts – like unsavoury parts of a mega million movie edited out to soothe fray nerves. But the Bible presents us with truth and reality. Heat and cold are opposite, yet both are real. We can’t set one aside for the other because it’s not palatable to us.

Biblically, faith is not only about receiving breakthroughs, wealth, success, victory or supernatural power from God, but also about standing up for Christ, enduring hardship and opposition, being faithful to Christ to the point of death, being joyful in suffering and refusing to deny the faith even when you have no money, no job, no home, no friend and not receiving what God promised to give you. These are the two sides of faith.

Hebrews 11 presents us a balanced picture of the heroes of faith: those who enjoyed the exploits of faith and those who endured the outworking of faith. “Positive” Christianity has replaced the latter with the former. Thus, many Christians who have been fed with sugary teachings and motivational philosophies end up with spiritual diabetes; a skewed perception of reality.

When these Christians suffer opposition, experience crisis or financial setbacks, they start to flounder. They start to think that maybe God has forsaken them or they have committed an unpardonable sin. Some backslide and begin to doubt if Jesus, God or the Bible was ever real. But these experiences are normal, because the Bible prepares our minds about them:

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own … No servant is greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also...” (Jn. 15:18-20)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33)

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41)

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Phil. 1:29)

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are suffering” (2 Thess. 1:5).

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:14-16)

Jesus didn’t promise us a free ride as some people teach. In life, our faith, patience, integrity and hope will be tested. We must not give up in defeat because our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17)

As I type this, I think of that young man who lost his job for being honest; that lady who has had her official benefits withheld for not committing sexual immorality with her boss; that woman standing up for Christ in the face of Islamic persecution; that Christian father or mother diagnosed with a terminal disease. By the world’s standards, they are “losers,” “fools,” or “pathetic”, but in God’s record, they are heroes of faith.

I look into the Bible and I don’t see any Godly man or woman who had a perfect life. They were all tested in God’s furnace. It’s not about what you are passing through in life, but your attitude to it that matters. We can’t really know how great, powerful and merciful God is unless we’ve failed before.

Personally, I don’t think I would have known God as I do today if I hadn’t been whipped with life’s lashes. But in everything remember: “And surely I am with you always, to the every end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). One of my favourite Bible verses is Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

In life, we will pass through the fire or wade through the waters, but let us remember that God is ever present with us and He will give us victory.