What Your Godly Wife Wants You to Know About Leading Her Spiritually – An Open Letter to My Brothers

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My Brother in Christ –

I received an e-mail from your dear wife today.

She’s struggling, and she’s not quite sure how to communicate that struggle to you. She has tried to explain it to you in the past, but you either haven’t listened or haven’t done anything about it. And now she feels that if she brings it up again she’ll just make things worse. Or you’ve told her to stop nagging you. Or stop preaching at you.

She’s not nagging you or preaching at you. That’s not her heart. She’s trying to tell you she needs something from you that only you can provide and that God says you should be providing. And while she’s praying fervently that God would move upon your heart, there should also be the understanding between husband and wife that if one of you needs something all you have to do is ask your spouse, and your spouse will do everything possible to provide it.

But you’re not doing that. And that’s why, in desperation, your wife wrote to me asking me what to do. And that’s why I’m writing to you to plead with you on her behalf…

Your wife needs you to grow up, spiritually, and lead your family biblically.

She has told me about the multiple, blatant examples of false doctrine in your church and how she wants the family to leave and find a doctrinally sound church. But you refuse because you like it there or you think objecting to false doctrine creates disunity in the church.

…or…

She has told me you refuse to stand up for what is right and godly at church, at work, with your friends, or with family members because it’s easier and you’re afraid of rocking the boat.

…or…

She has told me you won’t lead her and the children in prayer and the study of God’s Word because you don’t see it as important, or you don’t know how, or you’d rather watch TV.

…or…

She has told me how you frequently blow off attending church to play golf, fish, hunt, or pursue other hobbies.

…or…

She has told me that you use worldly standards for making decisions for the family rather than praying, searching the Scriptures, and using biblical wisdom.

…or…

She has told me that you put up a good Christian front at church, but at home, you’re foul-mouthed or lazy or greedy or lustful or dishonest or refuse to discipline the children.

Or…or…or…

I’ve heard so many of these types of scenarios of husbands neglecting or refusing to lead you’d think there was an epidemic of spiritual immaturity among Christian men. Perhaps there is.

Maybe it’s the result of the decades-long cultural attack on masculinity by virulent feminism. Maybe it’s a consequence of feel good, seeker-driven silliness, fun fun fun “church”. Finding the root cause could be an interesting academic exercise, but you don’t begin the arson investigation while your house is still burning. You put out the fire before it spreads. And you don’t ignore or get angry with the person pointing out the flames.

And that’s what’s at issue here. Let me be crystal clear about something: your wife isn’t upset with you for trying, failing, and having to try again. She’s upset with you for not trying. It’s not that you’re using the wrong color hose or that it takes you a minute to remember where the fire extinguisher is, it’s that you’re sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard denying that the house is on fire.

Your wife doesn’t expect you to lead your family perfectly. She wants you to want to and try to. And, though you might be afraid to try because you think you’ll mess up and your wife will see you as a failure, you need to know that a wife who is godly enough to want her husband to be the spiritual leader of her home sees your attempts and desires to lead as success – even if the results aren’t perfect. You’re judging yourself on the outcome. She’s valuing your heart and your trajectory in the process.

Because when you try, it says something to her. It says, “I love God enough to obey Him, even when it’s hard or I don’t feel like it.” and “I love my wife enough to take the burden of leadership off of her and bear it myself.”

And when you don’t try, that communicates something too: “I care more about myself and what I want to do than caring for my wife’s needs and being obedient to what God has called me to do.”

I think a lot of husbands don’t realize what an extremely difficult position they put their godly wives in when they abdicate biblical leadership. It nearly always backs her into a corner of pitting obedience to God against submission to, and peace with, her sinning husband.

❥ My husband refuses to leave this apostate church, but my children and I are being fed poison every week. Do I stay at this church with him or leave against his wishes?

❥ My husband won’t lead us in the study of God’s Word. Our children need to be taught the Scriptures. Do I step in even though it’s his responsibility and my taking over might further enable his sin?

❥ My husband makes decisions for our family based on pragmatism, even if those decisions conflict with Scripture. Should I take over family decision-making using biblical principles?

Brother, when you refuse to lead biblically, you’re sinning twice. First, by disobedience to God. Second, by becoming a stumbling block to your wife. No wife of a Christian husband should ever be put in the position of having to decide, “We must obey God rather than men.” It creates a tremendous amount of stress, anxiety, instability, and uncertainty for her when you create a void of leadership by your disobedience.

I can’t build you into a spiritually mature, godly husband. Neither can your wife. And it’s not my job to instruct you in the Scriptures, either. But if, by seeing things from your wife’s perspective, the Holy Spirit is now convicting you that you haven’t been leading your family in a godly way, may I just throw out a few points you might decide to consider as you pray and study God’s Word in this area?

❥ Listen to your wife. Really listen. Ask her what she needs from you, generally, as the spiritual leader of your home, as well as in specific situations as they arise. Ask if she knows of any particular Scriptures that would be helpful to you as you study and pray over various circumstances. Ask for her input in solving problems and making decisions.

❥ Commit to praying and studying God’s Word as part of your daily schedule. Ask God to grow you in maturity and leadership. He is the only One who can change and strengthen your heart.

❥ If you think you might be spiritually immature, put everything frivolous aside, and make growing up your top priority. Pour yourself into the study of the Word, prayer, and serving and nurturing your wife and children. 

❥ Make sure you’re in a doctrinally sound church (there are lots of tools to help you at the “Searching for a new church?” tab at the top of this page) and get plugged in. Lead your family in faithful attendance at worship and Sunday School. Take every opportunity to sit under solid preaching and teaching. Set a godly example by finding a place of service and committing to it wholeheartedly. 

❥ Surround yourself with godly men in your church who will sharpen you, teach you, and disciple you.

❥ Consider setting up an appointment with your pastor for advice, pointers, and good resources on growing in spiritual maturity and leading your family.

❥ Consume biblical media during the week. Ask those godly men at your church for suggestions of theologically meaty books and blogs to read and sermons and podcasts to listen to. (Until you get a chance to ask them, there are some suggestions of blogs and podcasts – most of them by men – in the left sidebar of this page, and some great pastors and authors here and here.)

I hope pulling back the curtain on the female perspective can serve as a helpful tool in your toolbox that you can use as you pursue Christ and seek to grow in spiritual maturity and biblical leadership. Brother, with God’s help and the empowering grace of the Holy Spirit, you can do this – so be encouraged, and don’t be afraid to try!

I’m rooting for you, and I know your wife is, too.

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Throwback Thursday ~ I Beg Your Pardon? I Never Promised you a Rose Garden.

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Originally published February 5, 2009

I once heard a pastor say that a gospel that doesn’t work everywhere is a gospel that doesn’t work anywhere. He was referring to the so-called “prosperity gospel” that seems to be gaining momentum in the U.S.

If you’re not familiar with this movement, the basic idea is that, if you just have enough faith and/or sow enough seed (i.e. send money to a certain “ministry”) God will bless you with wealth, new cars, new houses, etc. It must work, right? The pastors who push this “name it and claim it” (or as someone I know puts it: “blab it and grab it”) crack “gospel” certainly seem to be doing well financially.

The problem is, it doesn’t work for everyone. How did it work for Paul? What about John? Stephen? Peter and the other apostles? Certainly, they were faithful and gave everything for the cause of Christ, and what did it get them while they were here? What about Christians in India, China, parts of Africa, parts of the Middle East, and many other places today? They are being tortured, imprisoned and even killed for following Christ. Where is their health, wealth, and prosperity?

The fact is, God has not called us to a life of ease. He has not called us to life at all, but to death. Death to self, death to pride, death to greed:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Luke 9:23

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Romans 8:12-13

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Matthew 6:24

God never promised us a rose garden. He promised us that if we follow Christ, we will be persecuted and hated. Wow, just when you thought witnessing couldn’t get any harder! What a selling point for Christianity! But this is what our brothers and sisters across the globe face every day. Many of them, when they make a commitment to follow Christ, are signing their own death warrants.

What God has promised is so much better than material wealth. He has promised that when we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). When we truly do delight ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our hearts will mirror the desires of His heart. We won’t crave fleshly things like wealth, but holiness, compassion, justice, and a closer relationship with Him. He hasn’t promised us material rewards here, but hereafter.

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 34

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33

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Read Genesis 46:1-47:26

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review previous lessons (links above) to refresh your memory on the background of today’s passage. What events led up to the action in chapters 46-47?

2. Review previous lessons regarding the role the Abrahamic Covenant has played in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, especially with regard to physically living in Canaan and “possessing the land”. Trace Israel’s journey from Hebron to Egypt on a Bible map. Why would he have stopped and sought the Lord at Beersheba, specifically, and why would God have assured him it was OK to leave Beersheba and enter Egypt? (46:1-4)

3. Compare 46:3 to Genesis 12:2. How is this a promise to Israel of fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant? How can this passage be a reminder to us that God does not forget His promises and that He has a right to carry out those promises in any way and any timing He chooses, even if it doesn’t make sense to us? What does this teach us about God’s sovereignty, His authority, and His infinite wisdom, compared to our humility and limited knowledge?

4. Why would it have been important to the nation of Israel’s history and record-keeping to list the names, numbers, and relationships (46:8-27) of the people who left Canaan to settle in Egypt?

5. Consider 47:5-6 and recall 45:16-20. Why was Pharaoh, a pagan, so favorably disposed toward Joseph, and consequently, Joseph’s family? What character traits had Joseph displayed while serving Pharaoh that had such an impact on him? Think about the way you serve your employer, your family, and your church. How does the Fruit of the Spirit you display impact your relationships with those you serve?

6. Compare 47:11-2 with these passages. How does Joseph’s provision for his family who has come to him paint a picture of God taking care of the needs of those who come to Him?

7. Consider 47:13-26 with regard to Egypt’s rise to power in the ancient world. What did Pharaoh take from the people first? (47:14-15) Next? (47:16-17) Next? (47:18-21) How did this shift the balance of power between the people and the Egyptian government? Was it God’s will for Egypt to become a powerful and prominent nation? Who sent the famine that set these wheels in motion and who could have stopped it? Thinking ahead to the Exodus, what was the significance of having an “almighty” Pharaoh and empire as the backdrop for Almighty God’s signs, wonders and deliverance?

8. Think about 47:23,35 in light of these passages. How does Joseph purchasing the people to save their lives point to Christ’s redemption of sinful man? Was there any way for the people to save themselves? How did Joseph show mercy and compassion to them? What was the people’s response to becoming servants? Were they resentful? Grateful? What does this teach us about why we should serve Christ, and the attitude with which we should serve Christ?


Homework

Again compare 46:3 to Genesis 12:2, and consider 46:1-4, this time putting yourself in Israel’s shoes. God has promised Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. Israel already lives there with a decent number of descendants. (46:8-27) From Israel’s human vantage point, does it make sense for him to pack everybody up and leave the Promised Land (46:5-7) rather than staying, increasing in number, and taking over Canaan? But can Israel see the big picture, centuries into the future, the way God does?

Think about a time God worked in your life in a way that, humanly speaking, didn’t make sense. Compare your finite knowledge of the situation with God’s infinite knowledge of it and His “big picture” plans. Considering this, write down three reasons it is important to trust God and three reasons it is important to obey God, especially when things don’t make sense.


Suggested Memory Verse

And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.”
Genesis 47:25

Testimony Tuesday: Charla’s Story

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Charla’s Story

As far back as I can remember, Christianity has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a small, traditional, Southern Baptist church, was active in youth group, and even attended a small Baptist college. Around the age of 7, I “accepted” Jesus as my Savior and was baptized. Looking back, I don’t remember much about this experience. I certainly didn’t understand the gravity of sin except that I knew I did not want to go to hell. Counting the cost and true repentance were not part of my childhood “decision,” but I also grew up in a tradition where people believed and taught that repeating “the sinner’s prayer” would most assuredly save someone, especially if one prayed sincerely.

Despite the fact that my life may have looked religious, my soul was far from God and I didn’t even know it. Nonetheless, I seldom doubted my salvation because I knew I had prayed to receive Jesus and I sincerely believed that that was the way to salvation. If I did experience doubts, I would just pray again. A “deceived deceiver,” that’s who I was: pretending to be something I wasn’t, living a double life, and under the delusion that all was well with my soul. I could play the part of the model Christian or delight in the evils of the world – it just depended on where I was and who I was with.

My habitual, heinous sins only really bothered me if they got me in trouble. Granted, I sometimes felt guilty about my behavior, but I would ignore the authority of my conscience and the written commands of God and would purposefully pursue sin ever while tightly clutching to my “sinner’s prayer” as my get-out-of-hell-free card. Sure, I prayed when I needed something and sometimes would even ask God to forgive me and help me to live better. But my sorrow over sin was worldly and not godly; I was distraught that my behavior didn’t line up with the Christian image I was trying to maintain, not that my grievous sins were a direct assault on God.

When I was 27 years old, I met my husband, Jeremy. Even though we both expressed a desire for a Christian home, I now know that you can have “Christian” desires without the desire for Christ Himself. But God, being rich in mercy, brought my husband under conviction and repentance in the tenth year of our marriage. Jeremy immediately and suddenly surrendered his life to God’s leading and call to preach.

As my husband began to submit to the Lord, he also began to lead our family spiritually. Our conversations started to change and I often thought the level of his commitment to Christ and Scripture was a bit too radical. The idea of complete surrender to God was a frightening thought. During this time, we found a more doctrinally-sound church and I began to listen to expository, biblical preaching centered around the truth of Scripture, the preeminence of Christ and the holiness of God. I began hearing words I’d never heard or understood before – words such as atonement, justification, propitiation, sanctification, and regeneration. Although I resisted at first, I slowly came to realize that my understanding of salvation and the gospel were shallow and even unbiblical.

At some point during the past six or seven years, God opened my eyes to the beauty of His gospel. He showed me how detestable my sin really was. God showed me that my behaviors and even my “good intentions” or “good works” were evil because the motives that produced them were evil and sinful (self-serving), and no matter how hard I would try to conform to the religious image of the “Model Christian,” my real problem was that on my own, I would never be able to conform to the image of Christ.

My attempts to be “good” flowed out of selfish and self-righteous motives, not out of a grateful heart that longed to please and obey my Father. God gave me a godly sorrow for all my sins, not only my past sins, but even the stubborn sins that still often plague my heart: pride, selfishness, and ingratitude. I came to understand the truth about salvation: That I am only saved because of Christ’s finished work on the cross and it is by His work alone.

I began to meditate on this truth: the entirety of my own, actual sins was placed on Christ as he voluntarily endured the wrath of God in my stead while he hung on the cross. The reality that God chose me for Himself before the foundations of the world and that He sent his Son to ransom me became a source of great joy and thanksgiving. When I came to understand that His act of grace and mercy was not because of anything I had done, nor was it because of his foreknowledge of any future actions or “decision” on my part and that I had done nothing to deserve or merit salvation, I stood in awe of my Redeemer! Salvation is completely, entirely and wholly a work of God. He shall receive ALL the glory for the salvation of his people!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus Christ has ransomed and redeemed me – I BELONG to Him. I didn’t “decide” to be a Christian – Christ bought my life. There is nothing about my life that belongs to me, but ALL to Him I owe!

As I spend time with God in prayer and in His Word, He continues to show me the glorious beauty of the gospel. There was a specific instance during this past presidential election when I had been having discussions with several Christian friends who just didn’t see things the same way I did. I couldn’t understand how they could justify supporting the “lesser” of two evils when I believed that supporting neither candidate was obviously the “holier” choice. Didn’t they trust in the sovereignty of God? How can we have the same Holy Spirit guiding our lives and yet have such different convictions, I wondered? I even began to contemplate that perhaps they weren’t truly saved. Maybe they were just pretend Christians. As I thought about these things, a question popped into my mind: Well, Charla, how do you know YOU are saved?

So, I thought about it for a while. Well, I know I’m not saved by a prayer, of course. And then I began to go through all the reasons why I knew I was truly saved. I began to justify myself before God: “I am saved because I know it is a work you have done. I believe what your word says. I know I am a sinner. I know Jesus lived a sinless life. I know He was my substitute. I know He died for my sins. I believe He was raised on the third day. I even understand the doctrines of grace, such as total depravity, unconditional election, and limited atonement.”

And as I began to unload all my incredible theological wisdom before God, I felt an emptiness in my spirit as if all of these reasons were just not enough. There was simply – “No.” Immediately, I became desperate and undone. I thought to myself, “No? No? Then I have nothing. What can I say? How can I know for sure that I am saved?” And it was at that moment that I saw with my spiritual eyes – Christ crucified: Christ hanging on the cross for ME, Christ spilling out his blood for ME, Christ drinking the cup of God’s wrath for ME, Christ giving his life for ME. Christ. Only Christ. He is why I am saved. He is my assurance. My faith rests entirely on Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. In that moment, the gospel was so clear and so glorious that I literally covered my mouth with my hand and gasped.

God has truly done a miraculous work in my life. He has given me a desire to know Him, a desire to follow Him, and a desire to love Him. I am not who I once was. I truly am a new creation! I am being sanctified as the Holy Spirit convicts me daily of that residual sin that is still at war in my flesh and by His grace, He helps me to crucify my flesh, pick up my cross and follow Him. Even though I’m not sure when the exact moment of regeneration took place in my spirit, I can always look to the finished work of Christ on the cross. That day is the most significant date of my salvation! Recently, I came under the conviction that I should follow Christ in believer’s baptism and so a few months ago, I was baptized by my pastor (who happens to also be my husband). God is so, so good. What a gracious, merciful Savior!


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Heretical church music, Mistranslating 1 Tim. 2:12, Books for women…)

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Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


I need guidance in approaching the worship director of the church I started attending 6 months ago (haven’t joined yet) due to his frequent use of Bethel/Jesus Culture/Hillsong/Elevation Church music. I stand there in silence most of the worship time because I just don’t feel comfortable singing those songs. I don’t want to meet with him and be that person who is critical and legalistic but I feel convicted that someone needs to. Should I go talk to the pastor first (we have somewhat of a relationship since I’ve met with him a couple times and agree with his theology)?

It’s awesome that you are discerning enough to know that music from these heretical and New Apostolic Reformation organizations shouldn’t be used by any church. I encourage you to keep having those “powers of discernment trained by constant practice” of distinguishing good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).

I also want to encourage you that inquiring about the theology of a church or its music – especially as someone who is deciding whether or not to join that church – is not being “critical and legalistic”. That is what scoffers say about discernment issues, but it is not the biblical way of viewing “contending for the faith”. Do not allow ungodly people with their unbiblical personal opinions to deter you or even make you feel bad for doing what is right and good and godly.

I agree with you that someone needs to address the issue of the music. It is possible that’s why God put you into this church at this time – to pray for the church, the minister of music, and the pastor about this, and to lovingly explain the issues.

Since I’m not personally involved in the situation, I can’t offer any advice as to whether to approach the minister of music or the pastor first. I would suggest you pray and ask God to give you the wisdom to know which one of them to speak to first, and trust Him to direct your paths. You might want to consider which of these men you feel will be more receptive to what you have to say. If you go to the minister of music first and he brushes you off, I would encourage you to go to the pastor next. I think both of their responses will help you decide whether or not you want to join this church.

Here are some resources that may help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Popular False Teachers (further information on Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, Steven Furtick)


A popular Christian apologist I follow says that the prohibition against women preaching, teaching Scripture to men, and holding authority over men in the church in 1 Timothy 2:12 is translated incorrectly.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

He says it should not be translated as “woman” and “man” “but as “wife” and “husband”, and that he believes Bible translators mainly translate it as man woman due to tradition (i.e. men have historically been the pastors and teachers in the church).

This is why linguists – professional experts in the biblical languages – are hired to translate Scripture, not apologists.

Bible translators (of reliable translations) are true to the text, not church tradition or personal convictions. Furthermore, when translators are working on the text, it is not a lone individual who writes down what he thinks the Greek words say and that’s the Bible you end up reading. There are teams of translators, linguists, editors, and even computer experts who work on the text. They check, and double check, each other’s work. So even if one translator was translating according to tradition or opinion, it would be caught by others and not allowed to slip through the cracks.

All of the most reliable English translations translate the words as “man” and “woman”, not “husband” and “wife”.

And just for kicks, I checked this verse in about a dozen of the less reliable translations, and every single one of them translates it “man” and “woman”. Even versions that got other parts of verse 12 incorrect still use “man” and “woman.” For goodness sake, even The Message and The Passion “Translation” possibly the two worst English versions of the Bible (They’re not even translations. The Message is a paraphrase, written by someone who endorsed the heresy-laden book The Shack and has made statements affirming homosexuality. And Passion is the new New Apostolic Reformation version of the Bible, based, supposedly, on new revelation directly from God.) both say “man” and “woman”. And the NAR is totally OK with female preachers, so you know they’re not using “man” and “woman” due to tradition.

So we’ve got one apologist who’s of the opinion that it should be “husband” and “wife” against scads of translators who are experts in their fields and whack job NAR “translators” who approve of female pastors, who all use “man” and “woman”. You would think someone out of all of those people would have translated it “husband” and “wife” if that was the correct translation. It’s telling that even “translators” who push the egalitarian agenda won’t go so far as to change it to “husband” and “wife”. I think the apologist is somewhat out of his depth here.

A few more quotes from said apologist:

Verse 11 and following is directed at women in the context of their relationship with a man to whom they are supposed to be entirely submissive. That is a marriage relationship…1 Timothy 2 talks about the relationship between husband and wife; it’s chapter 3 that talks about church leadership.”

No, verse 11 is not directed at women. Neither are any of the other verses in chapter two or the rest of the book. First Timothy is a pastoral epistle. It was directed at Timothy by the Holy Spirit via Paul as sort of a “policy and procedure manual” for the church. This passage is not talking to women about their marriages, it is talking to pastors and elders about how to run the church. Verses 11-12 are talking about the role and behavior of women (all women, not just wives) in the church setting. They are not to instruct men in the Scriptures or exercise authority over men. That  definitely “talks about church leadership” by excluding women from leadership roles that place them in authority over, or instructing, men.

And keep in mind that when 1 Timothy was written, there were no chapter and verse markings. The text was one continuous flow. If you begin reading in 2:11 and go through 3:13 (try reading it here, adjusting the settings to remover chapter and verse markings), I believe there’s a strong case to be made that 2:11-15 is actually the introduction to the qualifications for pastors, elders, and deacons. The passage (2:11-3:13) starts by stating who is disqualified from those positions and why (2:11-15) and then moves on to who is qualified and how (3:1-13).

Furthermore, if you’ll take a look at verses 8-10 of chapter two, which immediately precede the verses in question (11-12) and provide context, you’ll see more instructions to both men and women. Are only husbands to pray? Are only wives to dress modestly and respectably and adorn themselves with good works? What about single men and women, divorced men and women, widows and widowers?

No other place in Scripture teaches that all women should be under the authority of all men in the church. If this passage is to be interpreted the traditional way, this makes a new and unusual pattern of submission.

And this passage (1 Timothy 2:12) doesn’t teach that either. The statement that women are not to have authority over men doesn’t flip around to mean that all men are in authority over all women. That’s fallacious logic, silly reasoning, and patently unbiblical. The text says what it says and that’s it. You can’t turn it inside out and make an inference from an incorrect converse. That’s being a poor workman and mishandling Scripture.

It’s abundantly clear that “man” and “woman” are the correct translation in 1 Timothy 2:12. If anyone is being more loyal to an agenda than to the text here, it’s the apologist, not the translators.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)


What do you recommend as daily devotionals for children, ages 2 and 10? I am looking to start daily Bible time with the kids before we start school.

I don’t recommend “canned” Bible studies and devotionals, but rather teaching straight from Scripture itself. I’ve explained this more, including a few suggestions for teaching your children, in my article The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

If you’re looking at a 5-10 minute time frame, you might want to work your way through Proverbs one verse at a time, or possibly some of the shorter Psalms. I usually set aside a 30 minute block of time and read through a book with my boys one chapter a day, asking questions and explaining things along the way. If you’d like, feel free to use any of my studies at the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page, selecting and simplifying the questions you feel are most appropriate for your children.


How can I subscribe to your blog via e-mail?

If you’re on a computer, there’s a little box in the left sidebar where you can enter your e-mail address:

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I don’t know if your phone is the same as mine or not, but here’s what the e-mail sign-up on my phone looks like:

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I was wondering if you had a list of recommended books for women. I’m trying to offer an alternative to an NAR book that has nice ideas and some good thoughts but also strays into Spiritual Formation and, of course, really off-base hermeneutics. 

I don’t really know of any off-hand along those lines that I would recommend. The problem with “Christian” books for women by women is that most of them contain false doctrine. A couple of suggestions:

1. The Bible. If you’re looking for a book with nice ideas and good thoughts, Psalms might be a good place to start. Getting grounded in God’s Word and digging deep into Scripture itself is the best way to guard your ladies against the false doctrine you’re describing.

2. There’s no reason women can’t read books authored by men. If you already have a particular doctrinally sound book in mind that was authored by a man, go right ahead and use that one. I would recommend any of the male authors under my “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab (as well as any of the female authors listed there). You might also find the kind of book you’re looking for at GTY or Ligonier.


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.

On Funerals, Grieving, and Suffering

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I’m at a funeral today. Earlier this week we received the sad news that a young, dear member of our church family passed away unexpectedly. If you have a moment, your prayers for his parents and family would be most appreciated.

If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll recall me saying that blogging is something I do in my spare time. After serving my husband and children. After serving my church family. This week, there’s just no time to spare to write an original article for today. My husband needs shirts ironed for the services. There’s food to cook and helping to do. And, honestly, that’s where my heart and mind are – not on writing, but with my family and church family.

Sadly, at one time or another, death will intrude like an unwelcome visitor on all of our lives. Living in a fallen world, we will lose someone dear to us and we’ll have the opportunity to comfort and serve others who are grieving the death of a loved one.

I’ve written several articles along those lines, and I thought it might be helpful to gather them all into one place for handy reference. Whether you are suffering or you are ministering to the bereaved, I hope you’ll find these to be beneficial resources.

 

 

Ministering to the Bereaved

Churchmanship 101: Funerals

Weeping with Those Who Weep

Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are
Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help

 

 

Suffering

Christ- the Suffering Servant

Six Reasons to Rejoice that Christ is Enough in Our Suffering

In the Mean Time

True or False: Is Your Theology of Suffering Biblical?

God’s Good Purposes in Suffering

Throwback Thursday ~ Priming Your Prayer Wall

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Originally published February 27, 2009

A friend of mine recently remarked that sometimes when he begins his prayer time, he has trouble with his mind wandering to the various tasks of his day instead of being able to concentrate on doing business with God. I’ve had that problem too.

It’s easy to get distracted no matter what you’re doing, but since Satan isn’t particularly wild about our praying, he frequently uses distraction as a tool to either keep us from praying altogether, or to keep us from entering into deep, focused communion with God.

Have you ever painted a wall? My husband frequently paints as part of his business, and there have been a few times when he was so hard up for an assistant, he had to settle for me. Painting is definitely not my forte. It’s tedious and boring and I hate it. I hate it so much I even made up a little song to sing – under my breath, of course – while I’m doing it, about how much I hate it. (I know, I know, “do all things without grumbling,” but for me painting is more of a Psalm 55:17 proposition.)

But, thanks to my husband’s good teaching, at least now I know how to do it right.

When he paints, he doesn’t just go in, throw some paint on the wall and leave (like I would, because I hate painting so much). He prepares before he paints. He makes sure the floor near the wall won’t get spattered with paint. He protects the baseboards, chair rails, and mouldings. He removes the switch plates and outlet covers. Often, he will prime the wall with a base coat of a neat product called Kilz, which covers up stains and marks and leaves a nice, clean surface on which to roll on the new paint. Only after all of that preparation does he begin painting.

I’ve found that that kind of preparation can be helpful before praying as well. So what can you do to “prime” your prayer “wall”?

◊ Get as far away as possible from physical distractions. Get into a quiet room away from other people. (For me, that sometimes means I have to leave the house and walk the neighborhood or sit in the car while I pray!) Turn off the music, the phone, the computer, and anything else that might make noise. Sometimes a white noise machine can be helpful as well.

◊ Keep a piece of paper and a pen handy. Before you pray, take a few moments to take a mental inventory of the rest of your day. Jot down any reminders to yourself or lists of things you need to get or do. Then, set it aside, both mentally and literally, but within arm’s reach. Later, when you’re praying, if something that’s absolutely crucial comes to mind, just take a second and write yourself a very brief note about it and get back to prayer. I usually ask God to please help me to remember or accomplish whatever it is I’ve just had to write down.

◊ Prime the wall. My “primer prayer” usually goes something like this: “Lord, thank you for drawing me to this time of prayer. Please keep my heart, mind, and will focused completely on You and prevent me from being distracted. If I do get distracted, please help me realize this right away and give me the discipline to re-focus on you. Direct this prayer time and bring to my mind all the things You want me to pray about.” This gives me that “nice, clean surface” so I can start praying.

◊ Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). Once I have prayed my “primer prayer”, if a thought comes to mind, I pray about it, even if it’s something as simple as, “Lord, please help me remember to stop at the store and get bread on the way home.” It’s important to be discerning, though, about whether a thought is a distraction, or God is impressing on you that you really need to pray about this thing that you thought was trivial. If it’s a genuine distraction, I usually employ the Scarlett O’Hara principle and say to myself, “I’m not going to think about that right now, I’ll think about that later.” Then I make a conscious decision to re-focus on the prayer issues before me.

◊ Practice. Keep at it. Prayer is like anything else– the more you practice it, the easier it generally becomes. Practice preparing for prayer. Practice asking for God’s help to focus. Practice re-directing your thoughts when they go astray. The more often you do it, the less often you’ll find yourself distracted.

Now go prime that wall and pray, pray, pray! It’s a lot more fun than painting!

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 33

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

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Read Genesis 44-45

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Questions to Consider

1. Genesis 44:1 begins with the word “then.” What happened prior to the action in chapter 44? Briefly review recent lessons (links above) to refresh your memory on the background for today’s lesson.

2. Review question 5 from Lesson 32. How much time might have passed between the brothers’ first trip to Egypt (and Joseph’s rough treatment of them) in Genesis 42 and their second trip to Egypt (and Joseph’s rough treatment of them) in Genesis 44? It’s important to keep in mind that the events of these two chapters did not occur back to back in real time.

3. Review question 4 from Lesson 32, and consider again: why did Joseph act the way he did toward his brothers? (44:1-17) Why did he again return their money into their sacks and plant “evidence” in Benjamin’s sack that he could use for a false accusation? Was it revenge for how they had treated him? Was he trying to find out if their character had changed since that time? Was he trying to find out how they were accustomed to regarding and treating Benjamin so he could keep Benjamin in Egypt and protect him from them if necessary? Could it have had something to do with guiding them toward repentance for what they had done to him? (Hint: Notice that the further Joseph carries the rough treatment, the more information he draws out of his brothers about themselves and the rest of his family.)

4. What did Judah’s plea in 44:18-34 reveal to Joseph about his brothers’ regard for their father and for Benjamin? What was Judah willing to do (44:33) out of concern for them? Considering the reasons (from question 3) Joseph may have treated his brothers roughly, what response did this treatment draw out of Judah and the other brothers (44:12-17)?

5. What finally convinced Joseph it was time to reveal his identity to his brothers? (45:1-4) Compare 45:3 with 44:30-34. Why would Joseph ask if his father were still alive?

6. In what specific ways in chapters 44-45 is God’s sovereignty over man’s circumstances showcased? What does Joseph believe about God’s sovereignty in his own life? (45:5-8)

7. Compare 45:5 and 45:7. Distinguish between these two purposes for which God sent Joseph to Egypt. Notice the word “you” in verse 7. To whom does “you” refer? What were the implications for the future of Israel of God preserving a remnant of survivors of Joseph’s brothers?

8. What can we learn about repentance and forgiveness from today’s passage? In 45:5, is Joseph brushing aside his brothers’ sin?

9. Write about joy as it is portrayed in chapter 45. What is the source of joy? How is it expressed, and to/between whom?

10. Compare 45:5 to Isaiah 53:10. How does God sending Joseph – via the route of suffering – to save people point us ahead to Christ? Did Joseph’s hard work and suffering save everyone affected by the famine, or only those who came to him seeking the “bread of life”?


Homework

What did you learn from 44:9 about the imprudence of speaking rashly when you don’t know all the facts of the situation? What does the Bible teach about speaking or vowing rashly? Consider these passages, noticing how some of them are worded in the positive (“do this”) and some are worded in the negative (“don’t do that”). Make a two column chart listing all of the positive statements in these passages in one column. In the second column, accurately re-word this statement in the negative. For example: Part of James 1:19 says “be quick to hear”. You might re-word this as “don’t be someone who doesn’t listen to others”.) Make a second chart for the negative statements in these passages, rewording them into positive statements.

Apply these concepts to a current or past situation you’ve been in. In what ways were you obedient to these biblical instructions? Are there any you were disobedient to and need to repent of?


Suggested Memory Verse

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Genesis 45:5

Movie Tuesday: Miracles for Sale

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PLEASE READ WARNING (BELOW) BEFORE VIEWING THE MOVIE.

“You are about to see a world where greed and deceit raise their ugly heads. Where lives have been needlessly lost. And where hope, the most precious gift of all, is peddled at a price. This is the wickedness in the world of faith healing.”

No, Derren Brown, the man behind the documentary Miracles for Sale, isn’t a watchblogger and he doesn’t head up a discernment ministry. He’s an atheist. And this project is proof in living color that – to our shame – lost people often see right through these types of blasphemies better than some so-called Christians do.

Several years ago, Derren Brown set out to expose the chicanery of faith healing. He chose to do so by taking an average man off the streets, teaching him the tricks of the trade, and passing him off as a legitimate faith healer, proving that God isn’t behind this movement – it’s all sleight of hand, fakery, and deceit.

Have you ever wondered how faith healers make it appear as though someone has actually been healed? Or how they can know personal things about someone in their audience whom they’ve never met? Miracles for Sale will show you.

WARNING: This movie contains a smattering of profanity (I tried counting. I believe it was about 5-6 words). It was made by an atheist and other non-Christians, and that’s how atheists and non-Christians talk sometimes (which, of course, is not to excuse this sin, merely to explain it). Additionally, since this movie was made by non-Christians, it does not contain a doctrinally sound theological response to the evil of faith healing. If these things would cause you to stumble or make you uncomfortable in any way, PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO.

The Mailbag: Help! Our ladies’ prayer meeting is a disaster!

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I am married to a pastor of a small SBC church. Every Sunday evening I have a 30-minute prayer time for the ladies of the church. It feels like a disaster! Women ramble on and on with “prayer requests” that really seem to be either gossip or current news events. When it comes time to actually pray, I’m the one who is praying and everyone else is completely silent. Recently, the women were so out of control with talking that they didn’t even notice when I said it was time to pray, so I canceled the prayer meeting until further notice.

I know praying together as sisters couldn’t be a bad thing, but what do I do if it seems like no one else is actually praying? Am I giving up too soon? And just to be clear I’ve tried different “formulas” for the meeting (having specific scriptures that we pray, having a specific theme for the prayer, etc.).

Oh dear sister, I’m so sorry for your frustration! I have led a few ladies’ prayer groups myself, and I know it isn’t easy. If I could offer you one word of encouragement, though – your ladies are showing up! One of my dilemmas was having ladies who didn’t see prayer as important enough to even come to a prayer meeting. You’ve got them there – that’s a huge hurdle that’s out of your way.

But once you’ve got them there, what do you do with this gaggle of gals? Let’s see if we can figure that out together.

A few things I’m surmising from your e-mail:

First, I’m guessing you’re a sweet, younger lady and that at least some of the ladies in your group are 10+ years older than you are. (Even if I’m wrong, I’m going to go with this for a minute because there are probably some ladies reading this who are in that dynamic.)

Trying to lead ladies who are older than you are can be intimidating, especially when you have the added pressure of your husband being the pastor – you want to reflect well upon him and not be the cause of any issues he would have to deal with. If your personality is very easy going and less assertive, that’s going to add to the challenge and result in things like the ladies ignoring you when you say it’s time to start praying.

Another dynamic that’s probably affecting your group is that at least some of the ladies are there mainly because you’re the pastor’s wife, and they either feel a sense of duty to be there or they want to support you with their presence because they love you, or both. Neither of which are bad things, because it’s getting them to show up (and, hey, a little love and support never hurts, right?). But it may mean that prayer isn’t the primary reason some of them are there.

The way you describe the ladies’ talking, behavior, and “prayer requests” leads me to believe that they probably don’t know how to pray in a corporate prayer meeting, especially one that’s not an “organ recital” (all the prayer requests revolve around people who are sick, having surgery, etc.). Sadly, this is pretty typical for SBC churches in my experience.

The extensive conversing may also signal that these ladies are starved for meaningful fellowship with one another.

So taking all of that into consideration, here are a few thoughts I had:

🙏 I think taking a hiatus was a good idea. It will give you time to regroup and reorganize your approach. My counsel would be that as long as you have ladies who are willing to attend, it’s too soon to give up (assuming, of course, that your husband is in agreement with that).

🙏 Set aside a block of time to talk this through with your husband and ask his advice. Just by virtue of being a man, he has a different perspective than you do, and probably has some helpful ideas and suggestions. As your pastor, he likely has additional insight on the ladies in your group, as well as some leadership strategies and experiences that could be beneficial to you.

🙏 When you start the group up again, you might want to consider, if it’s possible, having your husband lead for a couple of months. It’s just a fact of life that people act differently around pastors than they do around others. My guess is that your ladies will sit quietly and attentively for your husband. If you can develop that habit in them over the course of a couple of months, it will be easier for you to step in with more confidence and assertiveness when you resume leading the group.

🙏 Find an older godly lady who has experience teaching and leading women’s classes and ask her to mentor you. 

🙏 If that older godly lady is one of your church members, and you and she are both willing, maybe it would work for her to lead the group for, say, six months to a year while you attend as a participant. That could be helpful in two ways: a) You could learn by observing her leadership, and, b) You could model for the other ladies what it should look like to be a participant in this group, and they could learn from your example.

🙏 It sounds like these ladies need to be discipled regarding what prayer is and how to do it. Instead of immediately diving back into praying when you start the group back up, consider taking a few months to study prayer together first. The day I received your e-mail, 9Marks introduced their new book on prayer called Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes The Church. I haven’t read it (it’s in pre-release right now), but from the description, it sounds like it could be a good book to go through with your ladies. You’re also welcome to use any of my articles on prayer (I’d recommend this one and this one in particular.) And be sure to check the bookstores at GTY and Ligonier.

🙏 It also sounds like your ladies need more structure and guidance. One thing you might want to do is dispense with the verbal sharing of prayer requests as it’s traditionally done and restructure that aspect of the meeting. There are several different ways you can do this:

⇒ You decide the prayer focus (praying for the lost, missionaries, revival, an upcoming church event, etc.) for each week. Write down specific things to pray for – nearly verbatim, if you have to – on an index card or piece of paper and hand one to each lady as she comes in. For example, if you’re praying for missionaries, give the name of the missionary and a few needs he has.

⇒ Homework assignments. At the end of each meeting, tell the ladies what the prayer focus will be for the next week, give each one a card with a different aspect of that topic, ask her to be praying about it during the week and to come prepared to pray aloud about it at the next meeting. For example, if you’re going to be praying about VBS next week, the cards might say things like leaders, teachers, students, gospel presentation, safety, etc.

⇒ “Conversation prayer“. This works really well with children and people who are inexperienced with corporate prayer. Basically, what you’re doing is replacing prayer request time with praying for the request as it’s mentioned. You open with a brief prayer. After that, the floor is open for anyone to pray about anything they would ordinarily have mentioned as a prayer request. The only catch is, they have to keep it to three sentences, max (You’ll want to stress this rule and remind them of it often). This keeps the prayer time from being dominated by long-winded people, and it introduces an idea others can build on in prayer which encourages more people to participate. Additionally, it takes the pressure off of those who are nervous about praying out loud. For example, one person might pray, “Lord, please comfort and strengthen Sally in the death of her husband,” which might prompt the next person to pray, “Please provide for her material needs now that she’s without George’s income,” and the next: “Please show us ways we can minister to Sally.” There are going to be long silences at first. That’s OK. Wait it out. When it’s time to wrap up, you lead the closing prayer.

⇒ Guided conversation prayer. Same as conversation prayer, but more structured. You choose a few areas of prayer focus and let the ladies know what they are before the prayer time begins. Open in prayer, introducing the first topic. The floor is now open for anyone to pray up to three sentences on that topic (and, of course, people can pray more than once if they want to, but only three sentences at a time). When it’s time to move on, announce the next topic or pray a brief prayer introducing it.

⇒ Small group prayer. If you have enough people, break them into groups of 2-4, and assign each group a topic to pray about. When the groups start getting quiet, hand them another topic to pray about. (Be sure you’re giving them plenty of time to pray, though. I’ve been in prayer meetings using this method where the leader hops from one topic to the next so fast that the first person in the group doesn’t even finish praying before the topic is changed.) For a 30 minute meeting and groups of 2-4, I’d recommend no more than 3-4 topics for each group.

🙏 If you think lack of fellowship might be a factor in the ladies’ behavior, there is nothing wrong with making the last “prayer meeting” of each month a low key fellowship – a “three weeks on, one week off” kind of thing – where they have the unprogrammed space to just sit and talk (and snack – gotta have snacks!). Fellowship is vital to the life of the church, and, believe me, as they get to know each other better and bear one another’s burdens, they will bring more things to the table to pray about during the three weeks of prayer meetings.

🙏 Most importantly, you pray. Pray for patience and confidence as you lead. Pray for each of the ladies in your group. Pray that God will grow them in maturity in prayer. Pray that He will help everyone stay focused. Pray that those who are timid will be emboldened and that God will rein in those who have a tendency to dominate. Prayer is an area of spiritual growth, and only God can produce that growth. Ask Him to.


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.