Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Letter to Christians Feeling Weak

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

A Letter to Christians Feeling Weak
by Emma

Dear Christian,

Yes, it’s true. You are not enough.

Your strength is minimal. Your capacity is limited. Your ‘peak’ is not sufficient.

You may try again and again, however, left to your own devices, you are liable to fail just as many times. You can attempt to effect change, but self-reliance will ultimately leave you with an inferior result.

This news doesn’t sound especially cheerful or positive, does it? I know. I feel the weight of it, too.

The last couple days have reconfirmed the truth of these statements to me. They are not pleasant to hear, much less acknowledge.

In my prideful flesh, I do not enjoy being humbled. It can be rather disheartening to realize once again that I am not perfect, that I actually don’t have things all together, that my life is not yet in exemplary order.

Things likely appear miserably bleak at the moment and I assure you: they are. If we remain trusting in ourselves and placing our hope upon our own performances, we are going to be disappointed. That is what being cursed by sin entails.

Though, before you leave, before you click away from this thusfarcomfortless blog post, please hear this…

We are not enough, but Christ is. He is more than enough!

Our efforts alone will never be sufficient, never totally satisfactory. We have not been promised that we’ll never experience failure; quite the opposite is true actually.

Sin means falling short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It guarantees that we will fail, at the very least, to live up to God’s standards (which are perfect, good, and beneficial for us).

Since we inhabit sin-tainted bodies in a condemned world, we are imperfect, weak, inadequate, and incapable of attaining everlasting peace by our own meagre human power.

That is why we need our Saviour.

He is our all-powerful Lord, God Almighty, the One Who cannot be thwarted, defeated or humiliated by anyone. His strength is abundant, limitless, beyond comparison, and He has made it accessible to us!

When we experience regeneration through His Holy Spirit, God supplies us with super-natural strength — the power of Christ, Who is now dwelling within us.

As we take on His life as our own, dying to ourselves, crucifying our old sinful ways and walking in righteousness, He sustains, strengthens, and emboldens us by His awesome might. In fact, it is His power that even keeps us saved.

Whether we are feeling weak or not, He is strong.

His “weakness” is always stronger than our strongest (1 Corinthians 1:25b) and He is forever reliable. We can trust Him when all others forsake us, when we mess up (for the trillionth time), when life seems to be falling apart, when depression threatens to overcome us, when this world disappoints, etc.

Brothers & sisters, may I ask: Along with this weakness you’re feeling, are you lacking self-esteem?

Yes? Good! That is exactly as it should be.

Our confidence needs to be founded in Christ, not ourselves.

So, instead of making further desperate attempts to build up your self-confidence, hold Him in high esteem. In reality, He is the One — the only Sovereign One — Who deserves such praise and adoration. We are less than pitiful, puny little ants compared to the Lord, our mighty, wondrous King.

He must be the solid Rock upon which we stand.

He must be our living, Heavenly, eternal Hope when the temporary pleasures of this earth fade.

He must be the One Who inspires and motivates us to persist upon the road less-travelled.

He must be our All in All.

Please, let me leave you with some precious treasures from Scripture (relating to the issue at hand)

…from the Old Testament:

Exodus 15:2

2 Samuel 22:33

1 Chronicles 16:11

1 Chronicles 29:12

Psalm 18:1-2

Psalm 18:32

Psalm 21:13

Psalm 28:7-8

Psalm 29:11

Psalm 33:20-21

Psalm 34:1-5, 18

Psalm 46:1

Psalm 59:16-17

Psalm 68:19, 35

Psalm 73:26

Psalm 89:15-18

Psalm 105:4

Psalm 118:14

Psalm 119:28

Isaiah 12:2

Isaiah 33:2

Isaiah 40:28-31

Isaiah 41:10, 13

Isaiah 58:11

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Micah 5:4-5

Habakkuk 3:19

 

…from the New Testament:

Ephesians 3:16-21

Philippians 4:11-13

Colossians 1:10-12

Colossians 2:6-7

1 Thessalonians 3:13

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

2 Thessalonians 3:3, 5

1 Peter 4:11

1 Peter 5:6-7, 10-11

2 Peter 1:3-7

Jude 24-25

Select a handful of these passages and look them up in your Bible. They were super encouraging for me to meditate on as I compiled this list. I hope you will benefit significantly from them as well.

And, if you have time, consider undertaking your own word study (via a website such as Bible Gateway, or by referring to the concordance in the back of your Bible). Read the verses you find within their greater context to properly understand the message that is being conveyed. Search the Scriptures; and be pointed to Christ.

Lastly, don’t forget to pray!

Go firstly, to the Lord with your weakness. (After all, He has the most authority to help you; He is the sovereign Ruler of the universe.) Acknowledge it before Him and ask for His redeeming power to be seen through your imperfections.

Talk with the One Who is your Strength, your Refuge, your Defender, your Stronghold, your Prince of Peace.

Draw from the deep, soul-satiating well of God’s Word to fortify your prayers and choose to rely upon His lovely, trustworthy promises.

Rest your life entirely upon those sure words because the LORD our God is the epitome of faithfulness.

As you live in Christ, be strengthened in Him also, dear Christian! He will not ever fail you.

Sincerely, your fellow recipient of grace upon grace (John 1:16),

Emma

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV


Emma is a Reformed Christian blogger who is on a mission to discover what it means to do entrepreneurship in a truly Biblical way. You can find more of her writings (specifically on blogging & entrepreneurship from a uniquely Christian perspective), and sign up for her newsletter, at My Redemption for His Glory. Emma also loves to connect with fellow believers on Instagram.

Social Media

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Ways Social Media Is a Blessing to Believers

Originally published May 5, 2017

Porn. Foul language. Arguments. Hacking. Cyber bullying. Affairs. Frittering away your time. Coveting others’ seemingly idyllic lives. Living and dying by how many “likes” your post got.

I get it. There are a lot of ways social media can go wrong.

But there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Facebook or Twitter, Instagram or Google+ (Does anybody even use G+ anymore? Am I over there all by myself? Update: Apparently I was. G+ has been shut down.), or social media platforms in general. They’re tools. Like a steak knife. You can cut up your supper with it so you can eat- good – or you can puncture somebody’s tire with it – bad. It’s all in how you use it.

There have been lots of articles which have, rightly, discussed the problems with social media and the need to take a break from it every now and then. (Ironically, I’ve seen these articles posted on Facebook and Twitter.) And if social media tempts you to sin or the problems it brings into your life outweigh the benefits, then, by all means, you should disconnect. For thousands of years, people have been living very fulfilling and godly lives without sharing pictures of every meal they eat and watching videos of their third cousin’s cat.

But if you use the tools available to you to customize your news feed, your list of followers, and other aspects of your account, there are many ways social media can be beneficial to believers.

1. Close contact with your church family during the week
How is Susannah, in your Sunday School class, doing with that problem at work? Is Mrs. Bunyan still in the hospital? The water main is busted and we won’t be able to have midweek services? Social media makes it easy to keep up with your brothers and sisters from church- to serve their needs, pray for them, rejoice with them, and encourage them outside of worship service. We’re meant to share our lives with one another, and social media is just one way we can do that. It’s also a great way for churches to send out announcements, reminders, and prayer requests as they come up to keep members informed.

2. You don’t have to miss church when you miss church
Once, when I’d had to miss church for a couple of weeks in a row due to having sick babies at home, I had my husband call me from the worship service right before the pastor started preaching and hold up the phone so I could hear the sermon. It was difficult to hear, we got disconnected a couple of times, and I had to keep things really quiet on my end. Now, lots of churches stream “Facebook Live” videos of their services. If you’re sick, out of town, or otherwise providentially hindered (video coverage is not an excuse to skip church for frivolous reasons) from being at church, you don’t have to miss worship. And, as a bonus, you can watch other churches’ services, too!

3. Supplementary preaching and teaching
Your pastor, elders, Sunday School, and Bible study teachers at your home church should always be your primary source of instruction in the Scriptures. Some churches make good use of social media by setting up a private group for church members to discuss Sunday’s sermon or what they’re learning in Bible study, and there are many excellent independent theology and Christian issues discussion groups on social media as well. Here, here, and here are a few I’m familiar with.

If you want to listen to additional good teaching during the week, social media is a great place to find it. Ask your doctrinally sound Facebook friends whose sermons they’d recommend. Follow good pastors, teachers, and podcasters on Twitter. You’ll soon have more good teaching queued up than you have time to listen to. And there are scads of excellent godly authors and bloggers to follow and learn from, too.

4. Evangelism
Social media is a great place for sharing the gospel! Write out a post of your own, share an evangelistic video (like this one or this one), or retweet an online tract. There may come a time when Christians or the Bible are banned from social media, but until that day comes, let’s get busy sharing the gospel online.

5. Fellowship
Online friendships are no substitute for face to face fellowship with your church family. But sometimes you’re in a church situation in which there are few sisters who understand a unique life circumstance you’re going through, who share an interest in the branch of theology you’re currently studying, and so on. On social media, you can “meet” like-minded brothers and sisters from all over the world and form sweet friendships with them- sometimes you can even experience the joy of meeting them in person!


Jayson, Lindsay, and DebbieLynn,
social media friends I’ve been blessed to meet in person.

6. Prayer and Encouragement
Need prayer or encouragement? In addition to asking your church family to pray for you or getting together with a Christian friend for lunch, your godly social media friends are always around to lift you up and intercede for you. And you can be a blessing to others by praying for them or offering a word of encouragement.

7. Thinktanking
“Does anybody know whether ______ is a doctrinally sound teacher?” “I’m researching Bible Topic X- what are some good resources?” “What’s that verse that says ____? I can’t remember the reference.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked questions like this on social media and my friends have come through for me. There are a lot of godly people out there who have read a lot of books, listened to a lot of teachers, know a lot of Scripture, and been through a lot of experiences. Harness their knowledge and share your own.

8. Looking for a new church?
One of the things about social media that has brought me the most joy is helping people who are moving or who have to leave an apostate church to find a new, doctrinally sound church to join. Not only are there some great church search engines out there, but because of social media friendships and connections across the world, I’m able to get personal recommendations for good, solid churches. Not only can social media help you find a good church if you’re looking for one, you can help others by suggesting good churches you’re familiar with when they’re looking.

9. Current events in Christendom
What is the president of your denomination up to? Who’s the latest celebrity Christian to publicly support the homosexual lifestyle? Are there any good conferences coming up that would be helpful to your church members? Which sister churches in your state need some assistance?

Even more vital than being an informed citizen by following the local and international news, Christians need to be aware of what’s going on in the church- locally, nationally, and globally. Follow the pages of your denominational leadership, local churches, Christian news services, and so on, to keep abreast of current events. Outside of social media, you’ll probably never find out about the latest happenings until they happen in your own church and take you by surprise.

 

There’s no doubt that social media has the potential to cause a lot of problems, even the temptation to sin. But if you’re able to put it in its correct place so that it doesn’t steal time from God, your family, your church, or other vital relationships and ministries- using it, instead, as just one more tool to encourage yourself, and others, towards greater Christlikeness – social media can be a fantastic blessing.

Click above, and let’s be friends!

1&2 Peter Bible Study

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Read 1 Peter 2:13-3:7

Questions to Consider

1. If you had to summarize the theme of this passage in one word, which word would you choose? Which other New Testament passages can you think of that deal with the issue of submission to authority? In lesson 3 (link above), we learned that another theme we often see in the New Testament is growing to maturity in Christ. How can learning to submit to the authorities in your life help you to grow in spiritual maturity? Describe how biblical submission to authority fits with the theme of 1-2 Peter: living holy lives under persecution and before an unholy world.

2. For this lesson, we’re going to break this passage down into three sections and answer some similar questions about each.

Three different groups of people are exhorted to submit to authority in this passage. Identify these three groups of people and the authorities they’re instructed to submit to:

2:13-17-

 

2:18-25-

 

3:1-6-

 

3. God doesn’t always explain why He gives certain instructions, but sometimes He graciously does to help us understand Him and to encourage us to “think His thoughts after Him.”

What are the specific reasons He gives to each group for submitting to their particular authority? Is there a common thread among these reasons? Zoom out and take a “big picture” look at the general principle of Christians submitting to earthly authorities. What is God’s overall reason for this principle? How does our submission to authority paint a picture for unbelievers that there is an Ultimate Authority – Jesus – and that one day every knee will bow to Him?

4. Describe the opposition each group faces from the authorities they’re to submit to. What is the general reason for this opposition? Is it easier for you to submit to a) Christian authority you’re doctrinally aligned with, b) a “Christian” authority who’s doctrinally unsound (or a false convert), or c) a non-Christian authority? Why?

5. Study 2:20b-25. Think back over Jesus’ earthly ministry. In what ways did He suffer unjustly? How does Jesus’ response to unjust suffering set an example to Peter’s first century persecuted and dispersed audience of Christians, and how does it set an example for us to follow today during suffering and persecution? How is bearing up under unjust treatment and responding to it in a godly way a testimony of Christ to the lost around us? How might it open a door to share the gospel with someone?

6. How does it comfort you to know that you, like Jesus, can “entrust yourself to the One who judges justly”(2:23)? Does any act of evil or persecution against God’s children ever escape His notice and go unpunished either in this life or the next?

7. In each of our three sections God addresses those who are to submit, but He only addresses the authority in one section. Which authority is that, in which verse? Why do you think He addresses this particular authority here and not the others? What are the characteristics God instructs this authority to exhibit to the person under him, and how should these characteristics apply generally to all Christians in a position of authority over others? How does a godly, loving demonstration of authority point to God’s loving and benevolent authority?


Homework

Are there any authorities in your life that you have difficulty submitting to? The government/laws (2:13-17), your boss (2:18-25), your husband (3:1-6)? Think about the instructions for submitting to authority in today’s passage, identify one practical way you could better submit to your authority, and put it into practice this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Discernment, Sermons

Sermon and Videos: Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours

 

Want to see what it looks like to have a pastor who loves God, God’s Word, and his sheep more than the applause of men? Give this sermon a listen. Pastor David Henneke, of First Baptist Church, Kingsland, Texas, walks his congregation through the Scriptures dealing with false teachers and false doctrine to explain why FBC will no longer use music associated with Bethel and Hillsong. He also warns them away from several other false teachers.

(This is also a good sermon to listen to if you’re confused about expository vs. topical preaching. This is a good example of a biblical topical sermon.)

(Technical difficulties? When you click the Play button on this video, you may get an error message. However, simply click on the line that says “Watch this video on YouTube,” and you’ll be able to watch.)

 

 

Justin Peters and Todd Friel discuss the theological problems with Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and Elevation music and why your church shouldn’t use their music in this video interview: Why Your Church Shouldn’t Play Bethel and Hillsong Music.

 

 

Is it wrong to sing songs from Bethel if they are theologically correct? In this episode of Redeeming Truth, Pastors Costi Hinn, Dale Thackrah, and Kyle Swanson provide insight into the dangers of supporting ministries like Bethel [and Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Elevation Music], that have a false understanding of who Christ is.

If you are looking for theologically accurate worship music to listen to or sing in your church, we have put together a Spotify worship playlist that you can listen to.


Additional Resources

The Mailbag: What Is the New Apostolic Reformation?

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

God’s Not Like, “Whatever, Dude,” About How He’s Approached in Worship

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should Christians drink alcohol?

Originally published March 13, 2017

 

I wanted to know what is your stance on drinking alcohol? Meaning drinking not to get drunk but having wine with dinner etc.

Great question, but just to tweak it a little, let’s look at the Bible’s stance on drinking alcohol. I don’t want readers to base their beliefs about alcohol usage (or anything else) on my opinions, but on what the Bible says about it.

The Bible does not prohibit Christians from drinking alcohol, only from drunkenness. Christians are not required to partake of alcohol, but may do so in moderation if they like, so long as their use of alcohol does not violate any other Scriptural principles, such as:

Evangelism
Would your drinking alcohol in some way hurt your witness to lost people? If a lost person came to your house and saw alcohol in the fridge, or saw you buying alcohol at the store, or drinking alcohol in a restaurant, would it inhibit your ability to share the gospel with that person due to her perceptions about people who drink alcohol? Could you hand a person a tract with one hand while holding a bottle of beer in the other?

Love for the brotherhood
Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ enough to deny yourself alcohol if that would set a better example for them, if it would confuse them or cause them to violate their own consciences, or if it would be more conducive to your discipleship of them? There are many people who have had such bad experiences associated with alcohol that your drinking would destroy their trust in, and respect for, you. There are new Christians who aren’t yet mature enough to understand that seeing you – a godly person they look up to – take a drink doesn’t mean that any and all drinking is OK for Christians. Read what Paul had to say about eating meat offered to idols and apply these principles to your consumption of alcohol.

Flaunting Liberty
I occasionally see Christians (usually in the YRR camp tribe) post pictures of bottles of alcohol, intentionally posed pictures of themselves drinking, and so forth, on social media, and I have to wonder – especially for those who are well aware that this is a difficult issue for many Christians – why? Is it to throw their liberty in the face of other Christians whose consciences prevent them from drinking? Is it to prove a point? Is it a result of being puffed up with the knowledge that they have the liberty to drink? Is it to dare onlookers to take them to task in order to excoriate the person with the Scriptures regarding liberty and alcohol? None of these are godly attitudes.

Authority
Has your husband, employer, school, government, or anyone else in rightful authority over you asked you not to drink? We are to submit to those God has placed in authority over us.

Ambassadorship
Would your drinking in any way tarnish the reputation of Christ, your church, or Christianity as a whole? God is jealous for His holy name, and we are commissioned to represent Him well.

Self Control
One of the fruits of the Spirit is self control. Obviously, if you’re drunk, you’re not really in control of yourself, but there’s another aspect of drinking which requires self control. Are you able to deny yourself your right to have a drink when spiritual concerns, such as the ones mentioned above, outweigh your liberty to imbibe?

Drinking alcohol is a far deeper question than just “Can I or can’t I?” The question we should be asking about drinking (and all other activities) is: “Will doing this further the cause of Christ in my life and the lives of others?”.

Additional Resources:

What does the Bible say about drinking? at Got Questions

Do Not be Drunk with Wine, Part 3 by John MacArthur

Christians and Alcohol by Tim Challies


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.