Worship

Tuneful Tuesday

Today, I thought I’d share with you some of the music I’ve been listening to lately. Enjoy!

That’s What the Bible Says by The Collingsworth Family
“I don’t need no signs and wonders to know that God is real..” Gotta love it!

Send the Light by Acapeldridge
This is a little different version than I’ve always heard, but I like it!

He Giveth More Grace by The Living Stones Quartet
Like a lullaby for a grownup. Just try to listen without a Kleenex. I dare ya!

I Know that My Redeemer Liveth by George Frideric Handel
Yes, Virginia, there are other songs in The Messiah besides the Hallelujah Chorus, and this is a lovely one.
Step of Faith by First Call
Yes, I was a First Call fan in the 80’s. Don’t judge. :0)

I do not necessarily endorse all of the songwriters or performers listed here, the churches/organizations they represent, any other songs they may have written or performed, or their theology. If you decide to follow any of these people or groups, check out their theology first to make sure it’s biblical.


What are you listening to lately?

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Lady looks like a dude?

I believe [a certain, well-known women’s Bible study author/teacher] is a transgender. Her body shape is very masculine, she has larger hands and arms than most women. Her voice is lower. Her facial features are not naturally that of a woman and this is proved by science.

She must have had many treatments to disguise this such as hair removal and hormone therapy.

If she longs to be married, why doesn’t she marry? The answer is that she is transgender. Why does she say she can’t have children? The answer is that she is truly a male.

Further, her traumatic sexual past is testimony of her sexual confusion.

I may be completely wrong on this, after all I have not found any confirmation online whatsoever… but I may also be right.

Many of the questions I receive for The Mailbag are very similar, but every now and then a truly unique question comes my way. I found your e-mail quite interesting, and I sincerely appreciate your eagle eye for a potentially problematic issue in the church. Given the choice between an evangelical woman who blindly trusts everything that labels itself “Christian” and an evangelical woman who may swing and miss every now and then, but is trying her best to be discerning, I’ll take the latter.

But I do believe, barring any hard evidence, that, for now, this is a swing and a miss. Let’s break this down and take a look at each of your thoughts here. I’m going to call this particular teacher “Linda” from here on out.

I believe [a certain, well-known women’s Bible study author/teacher] is a transgender. Her body shape is very masculine, she has larger hands and arms than most women. Her voice is lower. Her facial features are not naturally that of a woman and this is proved by science.

The assertions you’ve made here are your own subjective opinion. Someone else could just as easily look at Linda and perceive her body shape, facial features, etc., to be perfectly within the bounds of femininity. Remember the “What color is this dress?” and “Is this sneaker grey or teal?” pictures that were going around on social media a few years ago? People see things differently and everyone thinks what she’s seeing is the right way to see it.

Your personal perspective is not “proved by science” any more than the perspective of someone who perceives Linda to look feminine.

The article you’ve provided does not “prove” Linda’s particular features are those of a man. It is the abstract for a study that was performed to discover how accurate people’s perceptions are when they are attempting to distinguish between male and female faces. I have not read the whole study (it appears to be access restricted), but I’m guessing the results of the study do not show that all people accurately distinguish between male and female 100% of the time. That actually proves the point I’m making. You could be wrong in assessing Linda’s features as male, or she could have more male-like features and still be 100% genetically female.

She must have had many treatments to disguise this such as hair removal and hormone therapy.

Or she hasn’t had any of these treatments because she’s actually a woman.

If she longs to be married, why doesn’t she marry? The answer is that she is transgender.

That’s a huge leap, statistically, and even anecdotally speaking. The overwhelming majority of women who are single but desire to be married – especially evangelical women – would tell you they are still single because they haven’t met the right man yet. It is not because they are transgender. And that’s almost certainly the reason Linda isn’t married.

Why does she say she can’t have children? The answer is that she is truly a male.

Or, much more likely, because she’s a single evangelical woman. She may be a false teacher, but she may still have the personal conviction that sex outside of marriage is wrong or that IVF or surrogacy are wrong.

Linda also knows which side her bread is buttered on. If she should turn up pregnant outside of wedlock, she would lose a huge chunk of her audience and would likely be dropped by most of the Christian retailers and publishers who promote her, and many of her speaking engagements would be canceled. Even if she said her pregnancy was the result of IVF, there would be enough people in her audience who either think IVF is wrong, or who think she’s lying to cover up sexual sin, that a pregnancy would be detrimental to her career.

Or perhaps she is infertile. Millions of biological women would tell you that their infertility isn’t because they’re truly male.

Or perhaps she is just a strong believer in adoption. Many people – single or married, childless and families that already have biological children, saved and unsaved – adopt children, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with transgenderism.

There could be many reasons Linda either can’t or has chosen not to have biological children, and most of these alternatives are astronomically more likely than Linda being transgender.

Further, her traumatic sexual past is testimony of her sexual confusion.

Then why aren’t we saying all of the other female false teachers – and there are a number of them – who say they were sexually abused are transgender? Yes, sexual abuse can be a contributing factor to someone deciding to become transgender, but it’s not a determining factor. If it were, then everyone who has been sexually abused would decide to become transgender.

I may be completely wrong on this, after all I have not found any confirmation online whatsoever… but I may also be right.

I really appreciate that you realize you may be wrong about this. So many people treat their subjective opinions and perceptions as irrefutable fact, and it’s refreshing that you’re not doing that.

If, in the future, objective evidence comes to light that Linda surgically altered his genetically male body to appear female (ex: Linda admits it, Linda’s doctor publicizes the medical records, etc.), then your perceptions will have been vindicated.

(I sense you’re a person of enough integrity that I don’t really need to say this, but just in case you or another reader needs to hear this…) Until such time, and in the absence of any corroborating evidence, I would beg you not to go around airing your speculations about Linda to others. Here’s why:

  • With zero evidence to back up your claims, spreading your unsubstantiated opinion about Linda around is gossip, and gossip is a sin. It doesn’t matter if she’s a false teacher, an ax murderer, an atheist, or the greatest Christian since the Apostle Paul – gossip is a sin.
  • The fact – supported by biblical evidence – that Linda is a false teacher is more than sufficient reason for people not to follow her. If you want to warn people away from Linda, focus on that.
  • If you share this idea with Linda’s followers as a way of warning against her, they’re going to think you’re a kook and double down on their support of her. (I don’t mean this to sound harsh, I just have a lot of experience in this area, and I know that’s how they’ll react. I mean, these professing Christians think I’m a kook when I provide objective biblical evidence she’s a false teacher.) It’s going to have the opposite effect you’re hoping for.
  • If you share this idea with others, it’s going to damage your credibility, and people won’t listen later when you’re sharing the truth of Scripture with them.
  • If you’re wrong, and Linda gets wind of this speculation, it’s going to be unnecessarily hurtful to her. Most women are very sensitive about the way they look, and it would be unkind and unloving to make these kinds of subjective remarks about her appearance or anyone else’s.

Again, thanks for keeping an eye out for problems and for loving the church enough to want to protect it.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Originally published April 20, 2018

Ladies, we whine too much.

Like petulant little girls, we look at what’s off limits to us, stomp our Mary Janes on the floor and cry “Why can’t I? I want to!” instead of giddily jumping into all the opportunities God has blessed us with. Instead of being happy and thankful for what we have, our greedy little fingers stretch out to grasp what God has said we can’t have because it’s not good for us or anybody else.

God has instructed pastors – who are, in turn, to instruct us – that, in the gathered body of Believers, women are not to preach to men, instruct men in the Scriptures, or exercise authority over men. And that’s what we focus on, and whine and kick our feet about. That part – the childish rebellion and discontent with the role God has graciously placed us in – that’s on us.

But pastors, we badly need your help on this one. Many pastors do a wonderful job of rightly and biblically explaining what women are not to do (And may I take a moment to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know how difficult that can be and that you take a lot of undeserved flak for simply teaching God’s Word on this subject.), but that “no” teaching has often not been coupled with the “yes” teaching of what women must do and how they must lead in order for women, and the church, to be healthy and function properly.

You’ve loved us well to tell us not to bite at the apple from the forbidden tree, but we also desperately need you to take us on a tour of the Garden and introduce us to the all-you-can-eat buffet of pear and peach and cherry and pecan trees that we have the privilege and the responsibility to feast on.

🍊 The Other Institution 🍊

Did you ever notice that the “do” for women in the church comes before the “don’t”? We tend to totally skip over that enormous little word that kicks off 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn…”. We have no idea of, nor appreciation for, how huge and groundbreaking it was for the Holy Spirit, through Paul, to proactively instruct pastors: “Hey, get these women in here, make sure they listen up, and train them properly in the Scriptures so they’ll be equipped to fortify their homes with biblical truth.”

We completely miss the fact that, though God installs men as the teachers and leaders in one of His foundational institutions – the church – He has very much made women the functional, boots on the ground, day to day, teachers and leaders by example – of His other foundational institution – the family. The church didn’t even exist for the first few millennia of human history, but the family has existed since Creation. And people who are members of families populate and lead the church. Raising and molding those people is a tremendous position and responsibility. A position and responsibility God has largely given to women.

Wives pray for our husbands’ growth in Christ. We build them up with Scripture. With a gentle and quiet spirit, we set a godly example for them as they observe our respectful and pure conduct. We encourage and help them in their leadership roles at church.

Moms pray for our children’s salvation. We pour the gospel into them at every turn. We train up our children in the way that they should go – in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – so that when they are old they do not depart from it. We teach them to love and serve and invest in the church both directly and by modeling these things for them.

And our single, widowed, and childless sisters work right alongside us in this labor, praying for church leaders and members, nurturing children at church whose parents are unsaved or unequipped to raise them biblically, encouraging and assisting brothers and sisters in Christ.

We grow and develop, nourish and support, exhort and sharpen the population of the body of Christ.

Men may lead the church, but women raise the church.

🍐 Woman to Woman 🍐

Essential to the health of any church is the component of women training women, whether in the formal setting of a Bible study class and structured women’s ministry programs or an impromptu “let’s get together for coffee this week” discipleship discussion.

Though we receive instruction in Scripture from our pastors, elders, and teachers, there are some counseling and teaching situations it’s not appropriate for a man to address with a woman, or that a woman understands better than a man. There are issues women face that men just don’t “get” in the same way a sister in Christ does. There are insights and perspectives a woman can use to explain Scripture to another woman that a man just doesn’t have. There are times when a woman needs someone to walk through a long term emotional journey with her that requires a personal intimacy which would be inappropriate for a man to engage in with her. And in the same way men are better equipped than women to train men to be godly husbands, fathers, and church members, women are better equipped than men to train women to be godly wives, mothers, and church members.

God knew all of this back when He breathed out the words of Titus 2:3-5…

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

…and, again, 1 Timothy 2:11:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

Women must be trained properly in the Scriptures so we can take that training and pour it into other women, teaching and sharpening them into godly women, wives, mothers, and church members.

🍑 Super Models 🍑

Women instruct our brothers and sisters in the church in biblical truth when we lead by example. When we sin against someone, we go to that person and ask forgiveness. We demonstrate the importance of meeting together with the Body by being faithful in our church and Sunday School attendance. We model servanthood by serving the church and our brothers and sisters. We paint a picture of biblical compassion by ministering to the sick and others in need. We show Christians how to carry out the Great Commission by sharing the gospel. We set an example of trusting God when others see us depending on Him through difficult situations.

And one of the most important biblical concepts women have the privilege and responsibility of teaching the church through our example is submission to authority – a lesson the church is sorely in need of these days.

Because God blessed us by creating us as women, we have an opportunity to model submission to authority in a unique way that God has chosen to deny to men.

As we submit to our husbands, we teach the church what it means to submit to Christ. How to walk in humility and obey Him out of love. How to put selfishness aside. To trust Him to take care of us. To deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

When we submit to God’s design for leadership in the church and joyfully carry out the work He has planned for us as godly women, we teach the church to submit to God’s authority and love Him by obeying His commands. We instruct our fellow church members in respecting and submitting to the pastors and elders God has placed in spiritual authority over us.

Submission to Christ, to God’s commands, and to pastors and elders is the bedrock of a healthy church. God has graciously given women the role – and the duty – of teaching these and other biblical principles to our churches in a way that men cannot -through our example as godly women.

 

Remember the series of fun little nutritional books that came out several years ago called Eat This, Not That? The idea the books centered around was, “Don’t eat that unhealthy thing. Eat this similar but healthy thing instead.”

Sadly, many Christian women have only been getting half the story. “Not that” (preaching to/teaching men and exercising authority over men) is biblically correct, but it’s not biblically complete. If all you tell someone is “Don’t eat that,” without showing her the “Eat this,” part, what she needs to eat to be healthy, she’s going to starve, and the church will be malnourished as well.

Christian women need our pastors to teach us to eat the fat of the land of being properly trained in the Scriptures and drink the sweet wine of leading and instructing the church the way God gifts us and requires us to. Only then will the Body be healthy and well nourished.

Christian women, Complementarianism

Throwback Thursday ~ Toxic (Evangelical) Femininity

Originally published August 24, 2018

Toxic masculinity. It’s a buzzword that’s gaining momentum as it’s bandied about in pop culture like a shuttlecock over a badminton net. There’s a clinical definition of the term (which, in the ivory towers of the scholarly world is, properly, “hegemonic masculinity“):

Hegemonic masculinity is defined as a practice that legitimizes men’s dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of women, and other marginalized ways of being a man. Conceptually, hegemonic masculinity proposes to explain how and why men maintain dominant social roles over women, and other gender identities, which are perceived as “feminine” in a given society.

And then there’s the sort of similar working definition of the huddled masses: Anything a man does that others, especially women, don’t like that can, by any stretch of the imagination, be blamed on the fact that he’s a man.

If a man cuts you off in traffic, it’s not that he’s a jerk or didn’t see you, it’s toxic masculinity. If a man holds a door open for a woman, it’s not that he’s polite and helpful, it’s toxic masculinity. If a man leaves his socks on the bathroom floor, it’s not that he’s sloppy and has no home training, it’s toxic masculinity. In other words, he’s not doing these things because he’s a polite or rude or aggressive or helpful human being, it’s because he’s a man who just wants to keep women down and exercise dominance over them.

Pardon my French, but what a bunch of malarkey.

Yes, I’m sure there’s a fringe element of men out there who consciously think they’re better than women, that women shouldn’t have any rights or hold any positions of responsibility, blah, blah, blah. And you know what? They’re considered fringe kooks, and rightly so. But I’m not buying this business of these elitist gnostics telling us that every little move a man makes is a subconscious act of belittling women or exercising domination over them, and neither should you. It’s like the race-baiters who say that every single white person is racist, deep down, and this latent racism manifests itself in everything we do, from the way we tie our shoes to the breakfast cereal we buy at the store. We’re just not aware of it, supposedly.

Poppycock.

You want to know where this notion of toxic masculinity came from? It sprang from the loins of toxic feminism. Zoom out and look at the big picture. This is a manufactured concept, baptized in the (assumed) credibility of academia, designed to help women leverage power and control over men. How? By denigrating them at every turn, thereby convincing the world that men are intrinsically bad and women are good and must be elevated to prominence. Call me crazy if you want to, but it doesn’t take a prophet or the son of a prophet to look down the road and see that the feminist end game here is a matriarchal world where women rule and men drool. And there are plenty of brazen females out there who would openly and unashamedly admit this.

That, however, is not my concern. Sinners gonna sin, and God’s going to deal with them in His own way and in His own good time.

My concern is the way this attitude is fleshing (pun intended) itself out in Christian families and the visible church, and creeping into evangelical women’s (and men’s) hearts. Because, whether or not we’d like to admit it, this worldliness is advancing upon us, and we need to be aware of – and biblically approach – the facets of this issue that are already at our doorstep:

On the Top of the World Looking Down on Creation

I actually laughed out loud when reading some of the academic definitions of so-called toxic masculinity. There seemed to be an air of, “We just don’t understand it! This pattern of male dominance seems to transcend all cultures and time periods!”

Well here’s a really academic response to that: Duh.

I mean, you have to wonder if these researchers and scholars have ever said to  themselves, “I wonder if there’s a reason for that. I wonder if this tendency in men that defies time and culture can be traced back to a pinpointed source.”

There is, and it can. It’s called Creation, and God is the one responsible. God created man first and then woman. God created husbands to lead and wives to be helpers. God set up the Old Testament patriarchal society that became the nation of Israel, which was led by male tribal heads and, later, male kings. God established male leadership in the temple, and subsequently, in the church. The major and minor prophets were male, Jesus was male, the apostles were male, the writers of Scripture were male. And all of this traces back to that one moment in Genesis 2 in which God decided to create man first and hard-wire him to lead, protect, and git ‘er done. Broadly¹ speaking, the reason we see a general¹ pattern of male leadership across time and culture is because God set those wheels in motion.

As Christians, we recognize that sinful men sometimes abuse the positions of leadership God has given them, but that doesn’t negate the entire pattern and call for us to turn it on its head. We study our Bibles and embrace and submit to the way God has instructed men and women to behave in the roles He has bestowed upon us.

(Don’t) Do the Woke-Emotion

One of the components of God’s creative work that adds inexplicable beauty to this world is the tender-heartedness, passion, and empathy He built into women in a uniquely feminine way. Emotions. Feelings. God created them, and they are good. What a dreary and heartless world this would be if women didn’t bring nurturing, caring, sympathy, and love to the table. God uses us to soften the hard edges of life and make the planet pleasantly inhabitable.

But along with that good gift comes the challenge to steward it wisely and in obedience to God so that we may use it to glorify Him rather than dishonoring Him.

I see Christian women wisely stewarding their emotions to the glory of God every day as they care for their husbands and families, friends and co-workers, and serve in their churches. It is a beautiful picture of the mature fruit of biblical womanhood.

Unfortunately, I also see the exact opposite. I see (ostensibly) Christian women who scream like banshees any time their pastor preaches on the passages of Scripture dealing with women’s roles in marriage or the church. I’ve seen women who claim to believe and follow the Bible throw an everloving fit when someone points out – from Scripture – that their favorite women’s “Bible” study author is a false teacher. I see women formulating their beliefs and practices about God, worship, the Bible, their own behavior, their families, and their churches based on their own personal opinions, experiences, and feelings rather than on rightly handled Scripture.

And, just like secular feminists demand domination over men because they feel oppressed, have experienced sexism, or resent the world’s history of male dominion, I see Christian women letting their emotions rule the day as they demand unbiblical solutions to their real or perceived personal experiences with men and male leadership.

The anger, the outrage, the hurt feelings, and being offended are nearly as evident in evangelicalism as they are in society at large.

Godly women are not ruled by their feelings. We are ruled by the Bible. We make our feelings submit to and obey God’s Word. We don’t make decisions based on what we like or don’t like, or what makes us feel good about ourselves. We base our decisions on what the Bible says. When our feathers get ruffled, we take a step back and evaluate the situation with rightly handled Scripture. Maybe we’re upset because someone actually sinned against us, but maybe we’re upset because our pride or vanity was wounded, or our unbiblical notions were biblically challenged, or because God used someone to expose an idol we’re worshiping. Maybe it’s not that the other person sinned, but that we’re in sin. Those hurt feelings could be a wake up call from God to humble ourselves and repent.

Ladies, we must learn to put our feelings aside and act on the objective truth of God’s Word instead of our fickle and deceptive emotions. If we display the same sorts of fleshly emotionalism as unsaved women, how are we being salt and light in the world, pointing the way to Christ? We’re supposed to be set apart and different from the world.

Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?

Because – speaking of salt and light – embracing and submitting to our biblical roles in the family and in the church sets us apart from the world. Now, more than ever, we have a unique opportunity to be counter-cultural – simply by obeying God’s Word.

Women being hired as pastors and teaching and exercising authority over men in the church and leading denominations and becoming popular evangelical conference speakers with co-ed audiences – that’s what the world expects because that’s the way they do things. But a Christian woman who happily puts her foot down and refuses to teach men in the church setting or joyfully insists on submitting to her husband? That’s different. It’s against the grain, not the norm.

Remember that out of the ordinary burning bush that caught Moses’ attention and he turned aside out of curiosity to investigate? And remember how, when Moses was watching it burn, wondering what in the world was going on, that God called to him out of that fiery shrub – “Follow Me.”? God can do the same thing with our obedience to Scripture.

Lost people see this anomaly of our “weird” behavior, and they want to know what in the world is going on. Why do we act differently than they do? And that’s when we get to explain it to them. We get to share the gospel. God can call to them out of our passionate burning for Christ and His Word, “Follow Me.”.

People in darkness gravitate toward light. Salt makes people thirsty. Do we care more about giving them the Light of the World and the Living Water or our own selfish and fleshly desires for power and position? Our embrace of and obedience to the biblical roles God has laid out for us as Christian women is one gateway to sharing the gospel with the lost.

 

Toxic femininity is worldly and fleshly. It has no place in Christian homes and churches. How do we combat it? We take up the sword. We submit to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. We recognize that God is the authority in our lives, not self, and that we are to obey Him at any cost – even at the cost of our convenience and pleasure. We trade our desires for His.


¹I’m well aware that there are plenty of exceptions to this generalization. I’m referring to a broad pattern across time and culture, here. There are many biblical ways women can contribute and lead in the family, society, and the church.
Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 13

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Read Ezekiel 26-28

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage.

2. Read chapters 26-28. Using a good Old Testament map, locate Tyre, Sidon, and any of the other cities or geographical locations mentioned (if possible). Where were these located in relation to Israel? Recall from lesson 10 (link above) what God said about Israel’s reputation in the eyes of the pagan nations surrounding them.

Read this article. If you are unfamiliar with Tyre, it will help shed some light on this passage.

3. What did Tyre do that brought God’s judgment upon them? (26:2, 27:3b, 28:2-6, 17a) What were the consequences of their actions? (26:3-21) 

4. What metaphor does God use to describe Tyre’s beauty, power, and influence in 27:4-9? How was Tyre the “flagship” city of its time and region? (27:10-25)

Why would the surrounding nations be so appalled at the downfall of Tyre? (27:28-32,35-36)

5. What did Sidon do that brought God’s judgment upon them? (28:24) What were the consequences of their actions? (28:22-23)

6. List the passages in chapters 26-28 which bear out the truths of “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” and “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18):

The bigger they are… / Pride/a haughty spirit go before…



…the harder they fall. / …a fall.



7. After studying God’s judgment and wrath against Israel for their heinous sins over the past several lessons, why do you think God would exercise judgment against pagan peoples like Tyre for coming against Israel? (28:24) Think about this through the lens of the parent-child relationship, in which God, the Father, is disciplining His rebellious child, Israel. When you are disciplining your own child for her sin, does that mean you are OK with other people being abusive toward her? Why or why not? What is God’s long term goal for exercising judgment against Israel’s neighbors who have stood against her? (28:25-26)

8. What can we learn from Tyre and Sidon about the sins of pride, idolizing wealth and power, trusting in wealth and power instead of trusting in God, and failing to give God thanks and glory for how He has blessed us and the work He has done in our lives?

9. Compare God’s wrath against Tyre and Sidon for pridefully trusting in themselves rather than God to the judgment that awaits individuals, who, in their pride and rebellion think in their hearts, “I sit in the seat of God (28:2) over my own life.” What will be their eternal fate? How should this inform our evangelism?


Homework

• Add 26:6, 28:22, 23, 24, 26 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.


Suggested Memory Verse