Reader Recommended Churches – Update

One of the features I hope you’ve found helpful here at the blog is the “Searching for a new church?” tab at the top of this page. There are several helpful resources at that tab, including articles on what to look for in a church, resources on church planting, and several good church search engines.

There’s also a link to an article called Reader Recommended Churches. This article contains a long list of churches in various areas which my readers have recommended as doctrinally sound.

If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know I request that readers recommend churches, and also invite people to request recommendations for churches in particular areas, every couple of weeks or so. It seemed like the system I had set up for making and requesting recommendations was too complicated, so I have attempted to streamline it and make it simpler.

Previously, there was a Facebook note for making recommendations and a Facebook note for requesting recommendations. I have eliminated the note for requesting recommendations. From here on out, readers can make recommendations for doctrinally sound churches on the Reader Recommended Churches Facebook Note (or in the comments section of the Reader Recommended Churches article linked above, which has also been updated and streamlined). I will continue to curate these Facebook recommendations regularly and add them to the Reader Recommended Churches article. Those desiring recommendations for particular areas will be directed to that article as well as the other resources at the “Searching for a new church?” tab.

I’d like to invite you to to recommend any doctrinally sound churches you’re aware of at one of the two links above. We are especially in need of recommendations for Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Canada, and any states which only have one or two recommendations listed (in the article), but recommendations for any area or country are welcome. Check the article to see if your church is listed.

I hope everybody will find the new system a little easier and that we’ll continue to be able to work together to get Christians into solid churches.


The Mailbag: Resource Round-Up: The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel


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What are your thoughts on the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel?

So much has been written and said about the Statement that I really didn’t have much unique material to add. In this vlog, I explain why I signed the Statement and give a few of my own thoughts on both the Statement and on social justice in general, but I’d mainly like to point you to the excellent resources below.


The Statement:

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

Essays (articles) on the Statement Articles by crafters of the Statement – John MacArthur, Justin Peters, Josh Buice, Tom Buck, Phil Johnson, Darrell Harrison, and more – expounding on various issues related to the Statement.

Please note: I am not familiar with a few of the blogs, websites, and podcasts linked below. The links below are not an endorsement of any content these sites may have created which contradicts the information at my Statement of Faith or Welcome tabs at the top of this page.

Articles on the Statement or on social justice in general

Social Injustice and the Gospel – John MacArthur

Is the Controversy over “Social Justice” Really Necessary? – John MacArthur

The Injustice of Social Justice – John MacArthur

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Tom Ascol

Why I Signed the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Josh Buice

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Pyromaniacs

Is Social Justice a Gospel Issue? – Kevin DeYoung

Covenant Theology, the Law, and Biblical Justice – Founders Ministries

What Does the Bible Say About Social Justice? – Gabriel Hughes

Social justice statement spurs ‘productive conversation’ – Baptist Press

If We Lose the Meaning of “Justice,” We Lose the Gospel – Stand to Reason

Social Justice: Why Jesus Didn’t Pursue it & Why the Church Shouldn’t Fight for It – Truth + Fire

Podcasts, Sermons, and Videos on the Statement or on social justice in general

Social Justice and the Gospel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – John MacArthur

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel: Background, Exegesis, Application – The Dividing Line (James White)

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel with Tom Ascol – Sheologians (Summer Jaeger and Joy Temby)

Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 (ongoing) – The Sword and the Trowel (Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore)

Tom Ascol and the SJ&G – Doctrine and Devotion

Social Justice and the Gospel – Just Thinking (Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker)

MLK 50 Conference – Just Thinking (Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker)

Darrell Harrison on The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Airing the Addisons

Statement on Social Justice with Josh Buice – The Rapp Report (Andrew Rappaport)

Josh Buice, G3, & The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel – Dead Men Podcast

Social Justice & Issues with Parts of Social Justice Statement – The Briefing (Al Mohler)

President Reagan’s Faith, Interaction with Dr. Albert Mohler, Brief Comments on Justice – The Dividing Line (James White)

The Statement – Theology Driven

The Coming Social Justice Storm – Voice of Reason Radio

The Left Can’t Not Be Crazy – Relatable (Allie Stuckey) 8:20-13:10

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.

The 5 Church Ladies You Don’t Want to Be


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It’s just as easy to fall into a ditch on the right side of the road as it is to fall into a ditch on the left side of the road.

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see how true this is in the Christian life. We can be legalistic or antinomian. Crushed by guilt over our sin, or hard-hearted about our sin. Extending too much grace to unrepentant sinners, or not extending enough grace to repentant sinners.

Abandoning the church altogether, or taking ownership of the church and using it for our own purposes.

The purpose of the local church is to glorify God through worship and discipling the saints. Proper, biblical church membership is not optional for Christians. It is not to be treated as unnecessary by “Lone Ranger” Christians, nor is it to be used as a means toward our own ends. We are to be faithful, invested church members, but we’re to do so in a humble, loving, serving, “others first” way.

I’ve talked about the “left ditch” of abandoning the church:

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly

You Don’t Need the Internet, You Need a Pastor

Today, let’s talk about avoiding the “right ditch” of doing church the wrong way. Here are five church ladies who use the church for their own purposes- to build their own little empires, to impress others, or to make themselves feel better. Church ladies you don’t want to be, and the Scriptures they need to embrace and obey:

Part-time Paula– Paula is involved in lots of different pursuits: travel, hobbies, volunteer work, her kids’ sports/activities/clubs, social events, political events, family gatherings, civic projects…and church is just one more activity on the list. And it’s not even at the top of the list. Paula comes to church when she has time, when she feels like it, and when church doesn’t conflict with one of her other activities, but she doesn’t have any leftover time, energy, or desire to get plugged in, commit to a place of service, or fellowship with her brothers and sisters in Christ. Paula keeps just enough of a foot in the door at church to assuage any guilt she would feel for quitting altogether, or to be able to keep it on her “resume” of activities to impress others.

Paula’s Scripture: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Screechy Sheila– Sheila knows how this church ought to be run: her way. And if you step out of line – not with Scripture, but with her personal preferences and methods – she’ll let you know. Sometimes she’s loud and vehement. Sometimes she’s quiet and threatening. Sometimes she’s nicey-nice and just educates you on the “right” way to handle things. But you’d better get with the program – her program – or else. Sheila uses the church as a platform for being bossy and exercising control.

Sheila’s Scripture: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Cotton Candy– Forget the meat and potatoes of church – sound doctrine and theology, studying the Bible, serving others, and giving sacrificially – Candy is only there for the fluff. She’ll be there for every fellowship, day trip, and fun-filled women’s ministry event, but she wants her “sermons” chock-full of jokes and stories, and her “Bible” studies to be positive, encouraging, self-esteem builders. Candy uses the church as entertainment or to make herself feel good.

Candy’s Scripture: But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3a

Que Será Katie– Katie is a founding member of this church, doggone it, and she’s not going anywhere. Some Katies have been known to say to their less-favorite pastors, “I’ve been here for fifty years, and I’ll be here long after you’re gone.”. Others are more placid, unfazed by unbiblical pastors, faulty doctrine, or spiritually unhealthy practices in the church. They just go with the flow. There’s a lot to be said for a faithful church member who doesn’t cut and run at the least little problem and works hard to help the church become healthier. But that’s not why Katie sticks around. There are biblical reasons Katie should have left this church in the past, but her friends are here, her memories are here, she’s comfortable in these surroundings, and those things are more important to her than whether or not the church is operating biblically. So she stays, loving the church for sentimental reasons.

Katie’s Scripture: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25b-27

Ulterior-Motive Ursula– Ursula has an agenda and the church seems like a convenient gathering of good-hearted people to use for reaching her goal. Maybe she needs volunteers for a community project. Or she’s trying to get out the vote for the candidate she’s campaigning for. Or she needs a client base for multi-level marketing. Or she’s trying to become the next American Idol and needs a pre-fab audience. Whatever the end game, coming to church where a crowd of people is already assembled is easier than staging a rally or phone-blitzing or setting up a free concert. Maybe Ursula is a faithful member of the church. Maybe she isn’t. But she’s using the church to further her own goals.

Ursula’s Scripture: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13


The purpose of the local church is not to salve our emotional wounds, or to fill a void in our lives, or to further our own agenda. The purpose of the church is to focus our attention on Christ – how He gave His life for us, forgave us, and made us His disciples. It’s where we come together to praise Him, honor Him, worship Him, serve Him, serve our brothers and sisters, and get equipped in His Word. We’ve probably all been guilty of being Paula, Sheila, Candy, Katie, or Ursula at times. I know I have. But let’s strive to be the godly women at church – and everywhere else – Christ commands us to be.

Throwback Thursday ~ Audacious


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Originally published September 12, 201712973105_1070863252960443_6289054134204793871_o

1. showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.
2. showing an impudent lack of respect.

Audacious. It’s a hot new buzzword that false teachers like Steven Furtick and Beth Moore like to throw around, and “average Jane” Christians are starting to pick up.

“Pray audacious prayers!”
“Live an audacious life!”

Sounds great, right? Rah! Rah! Let’s get out there and be audacious for Jesus!

The only problem with that is… well…the Bible. The Bible doesn’t tell us to live or pray audaciously in either sense of the word. In fact, I checked seven or eight of the most reliable English translations, and the word “audacious” isn’t even in the Bible. (Even The Message doesn’t have it!)

The Bible says nothing about being willing to “take surprisingly bold risks.” Quite the opposite, in fact.

But we urge you, brothers, to [love one another] more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

Love one another, live quietly, mind your business, go to work, walk in a godly way before a watching world, and be self-supporting. How bold, risky, or audacious does that sound?

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 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. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
Titus 2:2-10

Self-control, dignity, reverence, submission, good works. Nope, nothing about risk-taking there either.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Hmmm….still nothing about being audacious….

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:9-13

Honoring God, asking Him to help us obey, to provide basic food, to forgive us. This is how Jesus Himself taught us to pray, and there’s not a hint of risk or audaciousness to be found.

The Bible doesn’t teach us to be audacious. That’s false doctrine dreamed up in the minds of false teachers. The Bible teaches us to live in humility, patience, kindness, love, and obedience to God’s word.

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 2


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Previous Lessons: 1

Read Proverbs 31:1-31

Questions to Consider

1. Choose one of the resources from my article Bible Book Backgrounds and familiarize yourself briefly with the book of Proverbs. What type of biblical literature is this book? Who is the author? At what time in history was this book written? What is the theme or purpose of this book? How does this book point us to Christ?

2. Carefully examine verses 1-2. Who is King Lemuel? Must we know his identity in order for the content of chapter 31 to make sense? Who originally gave the instructions and counsel in chapter 31? To whom did she give them? What area of Lemuel’s life did his mother advise him about in verses 1-9? In verses 10-31?

3. Notice that this is a woman admonishing a man. A man who was also the ______ as well as her ______. And this was at a time in history when women were not always highly regarded. Think about what that means in terms of having an official position of authority versus the power of influence. Do you have to occupy a high position in a job, your church, or your family in order to influence people?

4. What can you surmise about the character of Lemuel’s mother from reading Proverbs 31? How did her character impact her son/the king, and how did she steward her influence over him? If Lemuel heeded all of her advice in Proverbs 31, who else was she influencing through him? What might the results of heeding her advice have looked like if Lemuel’s mother had been a woman of ungodly character?

5. Think about your own character and those you influence. What are some specific ways your godly character has influenced others in the last month? Can you think of any specific times during the last month when you’ve exhibited ungodly character? How might that have influenced others? Take some time to thank God for any growth in Christlike character you’ve seen in your life. Repent of any sin that comes to mind – both to God and to anyone you’ve influenced in an ungodly way.

6. Look carefully at each of Lemuel’s mother’s admonitions in verses 3-9. What is the broad, generally applicable to all people, biblical principle behind each of her instructions?





What are some ways you can carry out these biblical principles in your family, church, job, or community?

If you’d like to discuss this lesson with other women who are participating in the study, join our  Imperishable Beauty Bible Study Discussion Group on Facebook.

Next week, we’ll be looking at more of Proverbs 31.


Although Lemuel’s mother didn’t hold an official position of authority, she still had a powerful influence on the king (and her son, even if he hadn’t been king). Make a list of the five people you have the potential to influence the most. In what ways can your words and behavior influence them for the gospel and toward godliness? For the next week, commit to pray for these five people each day, asking God to help you to be a godly influence on them.

Suggested Memory Verse

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

Guest Post: Planting a Doctrinally Sound Church in the Midst of NAR Chaos


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


A Brief Word from Michelle:

I’m frequently asked by readers what to do if, despite their best efforts, they can’t find a doctrinally sound church within reasonable driving distance from home. One of my suggestions has been to look into church planting. Here is Elliott’s story of planting a doctrinally sound church in an area where none exist. If you live nearby, consider joining him in this work or at least stopping by to encourage Elliott and Naomi.

Planting a Doctrinally Sound Church
in the Midst of NAR Chaos
by Elliott Micha

I walked into a church on a normal, mid-February cloudy Sunday. An elderly woman came up to me and in a rather creepy timbre, leaned over and said, “God always shows up here.” Then the service started, and an old man in rusty Birkenstocks got up and started screaming. From that point forward all chaos broke loose.

The worship team played a well known Pentecostal song about the fire of the Lord falling down, and bodies started to drop like it was a World War II battlefield. A woman convulsed on the ground in front of me making inappropriate sexual-sounding noises. She appeared to have no control of her body and was almost drooling on the floor. Young people all wearing matching checkered flannel shirts ran to the front of the room to get the anointing as random people laid hands on others. It was a violent scene. This was my first experience witnessing Charismatic chaos in person.

Later, I went to visit a buddy, Russ, who was a local young adults pastor at the time. I asked, “Russ does that happen every week at that church?”. He said, “Yes, Elliott, every single week they do the exact same thing.”. From that day forward I was determined to stop the rise of the Charismatic chaos that had started to infiltrate Orange County Christianity.

At this point I was a young adult. Many years later, the chaos, false teaching, and carnage would escalate to a new level. Some of my close friends from my early twenties sadly got sucked into the emotion and started following famous traveling prophets. My wife, Naomi, coined a term for the fringe Charismatic churches: “koo koo land”. Many people I know, including Naomi’s boss and my dentist both were turned off to ever checking out any Christian church due to their bad experiences with Charismatic churches.

Over the years, Naomi and I saw more and more “pastors” who wanted to be viewed as Spirit-filled men of God, but had little care for God’s word. For a little while I became a church planter working alongside a group of churches, but then the faith healers, “prophets”, and skinny jeans started to arrive. I left that group of churches and dusted off my computer which contained the name of the church Naomi and I felt called to originally plant – Outpouring Church.

Naomi and I knew the blueprint the Lord gave us. There was no more biting my tongue and trying to be politically correct about the madness I had witnessed unfold in so many churches. We were called to plant a church that would be fiercely devoted to educating young people, old people, and those caught in deception about the dangers of the modern day prophets and apostles movement. We felt called to not just sit on the sidelines any longer, but to stand up and not be pushed around by the false prophets (who many times tried to intimidate me, calling me, “just some young punk”) in our region.

The city we live in, San Clemente, is a town that 68,000 people call home. For southern Orange County, that is a rather large population. Our area is home to three mega churches that have a weekly attendance between 700 and 2,000 people each. On the surface many people would say San Clemente has 15 churches total, so what’s the need for another church? These churches are all within a 4 mile driving radius of the rich white suburban side of town, and unfortunately, many of them now feature associations with the New Apostolic Reformation, prophets and apostles, worship music with aberrant theology, and loads of seeker friendly, watered down theology that turns church more into a ringside circus then an actual church service.

Naomi and I originally felt called to San Clemente before we got married. We didn’t want to move to San Clemente, actually. We wanted to move to inland Orange County. Inland Orange County is our version of the Midwest – everyone is hardcore Christian, and many of the people actually know the Bible. We knew it would be a life of contentment if we moved there, but we would be running from our calling. Many of the pastors in our town have even said, “I don’t feel called to San Clemente, I moved there because of the sunny weather,” or “I moved there because I love surfing.”. Naomi and I have zero interest in surfing or the ocean. By the time I was 18 (after working in the skimboard industry) I was really sick of going to the beach. We felt called to San Clemente because we met many “Christians” who were confused about what they believed. In that group we saw a massive need for discipleship and really sitting down and teaching people the Bible.

Our good friend, a local San Clemente native and faithful Christian mother who is 55 years old, went to a house one day for a “women’s gathering”. The women in attendance all said they were “Christians”. At this gathering one of the women started saying how it was okay for Christians to use horoscopes. Our friend rebuked the woman and the woman got really angry. This gives you an idea of the type of danger that has seeped into our local Christian scene. Many of these people don’t understand the basics of the faith and some of them have been walking with the Lord for years.

Naomi and I also felt called to San Clemente because no one wanted to go near the area we felt called to plant a church in. We felt called to Southern San Clemente and specifically an area called Surfer’s Row. Everyone plants churches in Talega (inland San Clemente) which Naomi and I joke is like Utah (it has a massive Mormon population) and is home to many wealthy Caucasian families. We live in a neighborhood in the middle of town that is largely Mormon and has lots of older Roman Catholics. In our actual tract of homes there are only a few Christians.

Naomi and I know another group of people right now that are leaving our area to plant a Bible-based church up in Idaho. We have watched as many people plant great churches in our town and then after a few years leave San Clemente due to the spiritual warfare and backlash. We were attracted to planting in Surfer’s Row because it is still unchurched. Surfer’s Row is home to drug addicts, local professional surfers, various ethnic people groups, a low income school, and dive bars that look like they belong in a Harley Davidson ad.

One of the huge battles we face in San Clemente is that many professing Christians idolize the sport of surfing. There have been Christian parents in our area who have gotten divorced because of their obsession with surfing. Some of the local pastors base their life and schedule around surf contests and conditions. We even have one pastor in the area who will skip being in the pulpit if there is a good swell coming in to surf. When I went to share the story of our church plant with another well known retired surfing pastor, he said to me, “Do you surf?”, as though surfing was a requirement for planting a church in our town. It was a very weird experience. (For the record I don’t surf. I grew up skim boarding.)

Instead, my father-in-law, Pastor Bob, has had a big influence on me. He is a retired pastor, Vietnam vet, and seminary grad who served for 50 years. But in his words, “You never retire from ministry.”. He’s my mentor when it comes to day to day church planting. In our first church planting experience, Naomi and I were struggling to find someone to really disciple us. At a certain point (when one of the pastors started teaching that Christians can be demon possessed and that Christians can walk on water just like Jesus did) we left that group of churches and realized that her folks had seen it all in a long career of ministry and would be great mentors on this crazy journey of planting a church.

We also have a few buddies that pastor churches in inland Orange County who are all great allies. These men have shown us how this whole process of church planting works and what it looks like to be faithful to the flock that God has given them. (The funny thing is we aren’t Calvinist, but we have a large following of Calvinists now because we are one of the only vocally anti-charismatic chaos churches in our area.)

So the next logical question is: how do you evangelize the people who call Surfer’s Row home? Naomi and I get up every Sunday and prayer walk the Surfer’s Row area. The main way we invite people into the story of Outpouring Church is door to door knocking. One day my friend Billy said to me, “You door knock to tell people about your church plant? That’s hardcore Elliott.”. It may be a rare thing nowadays, but so far it has worked to help start getting the word out. I door knock a few times a week, give out free Bibles at the local surf spot, give out free surf supplies to the surfers (if their boards need repair), deliver Bibles to the homes of people who need them, utilize social media (Twitter, Instagram,, Yelp), hand out contact cards with our info on it, and distribute free surf wax with our church logo on it. So far, these simple forms of outreach have started to build a small following of people in our area. Currently, we have four people on our church interest list. Once we get enough people, we will start our once a week “house church” style Bible study.

It might shock you, but many of the people in Surfer’s Row have never seen a Bible or heard about Jesus. The Bahai faith, Mormonism, fringe Charismatic Christianity, and the New Age are all large religions in that specific area. Some people within Surfer’s Row have large tiki statues of various Hawaiian gods they worship displayed in their front yards. Many of the pro surfers run nonprofits that push mindfulness, yoga, and New Age belief, and have no frame of reference for Christianity. I have had many good discussions with young (18-19 years old) surfer kids and they are blown away that Christians would actually care for them and want to talk to them. I always try to share the gospel with them. Slowly but surely we are starting to build a following.

That is just a little of our story. It has been a crazy ride so far. Through it all we have learned to always come back to Hebrews 13:8 which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Naomi and I have learned the true meaning of the narrow road. We have seen what happens when you call out false teachers and stand for truth. I have learned what it feels like when you get home from plowing the fields for the sake of the Gospel and just want to sit in your chair. We are a tiny church with just a handful of people, but we are ready to make a big dent in San Clemente for the kingdom of God.

We are Outpouring Church and as always, “Our mission is His mission.”

Elliott Micha is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Outpouring Church at Surfer’s Row located in southern San Clemente, California. Elliott and his wife Naomi have two English bulldogs and are looking forward to one day starting their own family. Naomi loves equipping young women with biblical knowledge. Elliott, Naomi, and their ragtag group of friends are excited to see people who are far from Jesus come to know Jesus. Follow Outpouring Church on Twitter or Instagram.

The Mailbag: Is lust a sin for women, too?


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In the past, I’ve had lots of trouble wondering about my desire and tendency to look at, and get excited by, physically attractive men, especially men who reveal a lot of themselves in underwear modeling and soft-core porn. I think this is a sin, but I’m not sure.

I’ve gotten mixed reactions when I’ve mentioned this to people. There are some who say that, yes, this is the sin of lust. Yet there are others who have told me that women cannot possibly struggle with lust, only men do. I once dealt with one particular man who was very dogmatic that God created men and women to be tempted differently, and that lust is not a temptation women deal with, so he dismissed my struggles with this subject.

When I tried to search Scripture, using Matthew 5:28, it would also seem that this is a male-only sin. So is it OK for me to keep looking at male models, including underwear modeling and soft-core porn?

This is an awesome question for three reasons. First, you’re concerned about whether or not you’re sinning with the aim of mortifying this behavior if it is a sin. Second, you’re not relying on your own feelings, opinions, or experiences to determine whether or not this is a sin, you’re turning to Scripture to find out. Those are both very encouraging things. They demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is working in your heart to sanctify you and make you more like Christ. Third, it gives us an opportunity to take a look at the Scriptures in more depth and give an example of handling God’s Word correctly and in context for everyone reading this article. So, thank you for asking!

The short answer to your question is, yes, lust is sinful for the women who experience it just as much as it is for the men who experience it. But I don’t want you to just take my word for it, so let’s look at why.

The Scripture you’ve cited, Matthew 5:28, is definitely one of the passages that addresses this issue. It says:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I suspect this verse might be the reason the man you spoke with said that lust is a male-only sin, because this particular verse speaks to men lusting after women. However, to make a blanket statement that because God created men and women differently, lust is never a temptation for women is foolhardy and shows a lack of biblical knowledge and understanding as well as a denial of reality.

Let’s address reality first. It is true that God created men in such a way that they are more likely to be sexually stimulated by what they see than women are. However, that does not mean that no woman anywhere has ever experienced lust. God also created men in such a way that men are usually taller and stronger than women and women are usually more emotionally expressive than men. But we can look around us and see that some women are taller or stronger than some men, and some men are more emotionally expressive than some women.

Furthermore, while you really can’t do anything about how tall you are (and, to some extent, how strong you are), lust is something that can be introduced to women and encouraged in women by culture. A hundred years ago, it would have been unthinkable to see advertisements featuring nearly naked men, or strip clubs with male dancers, or pornography aimed at women, so readily available and with so little shame attached. And at that time there were probably far fewer women who struggled with the sin of lust.

These days, it’s right there on your phone or computer or TV or at the bachelorette party for your friend. Lust, lewd behavior, and lurid talk by women are actually encouraged by the feminist movement. (If men are going to objectify women with lust and porn, we’re going to objectify them right back. Really? This is equality? The right to sink to the same depth of degradation as the scuzziest of men? No thanks.) Watch any sitcom or drama on TV. You’ll see it soon enough. And, of course, there’s money to be made by making women into consumers of porn and other sexual material, so the businesses that peddle these things encourage women to lust as well. All of which means that today, just a hundred years later, far more women are struggling with the sin of lust.

So we can see that the reality is that lust is a temptation experienced by some women, even though men are more prone to it.

But is lust a sin for women if Matthew 5:28 is speaking in terms of men lusting? Yes. There are a couple of different reasons for this, one cultural, and one biblical.

Let’s go cultural first to understand more clearly why this particular verse is addressed to men rather than men and women. We start off with the knowledge that men are much more likely to experience lust than women. Then we take the culture of the time into account.

Jesus spoke these words in a patriarchal society. In His culture, there were no women in positions of authority and power. Men ran the political system, the religious system, and men were the heads of their households. (By the way, despite what our culture today would say, this wasn’t a bad thing in and of itself. In fact, most of this was perfectly biblical.) Normally, women were not educated, and they depended on men – first their fathers, then their husbands, and finally, their grown sons – to take care of them their entire lives.

So when Jesus was teaching to the crowds as with the Sermon on the Mount (which Matthew 5 is part of) the cultural understanding was that He was primarily teaching the men, and any women and children they brought with them were basically along for the ride. Indeed, many would have thought the women incapable of understanding teaching (since they were intellectually inferior to men) or unworthy of receiving teaching (because God had created them as “lesser” than men).

The Jewish understanding that Jesus was primarily teaching the men would have been similar. Rabbis didn’t teach women, they taught men. Any intentional biblical instruction women received would have been from their fathers or husbands at home. We can see further evidence of this cultural and Jewish understanding in several different Scriptures. A few examples:

At the feeding of the five thousand, the feeding of the four thousand, and some other New Testament “crowd scenes”, the crowd is numbered by the number of men present.

Both the woman at the well herself and the disciples “marveled” that Jesus was speaking with a woman.

Due to Martha’s cultural and Jewish understanding of women’s roles, Jesus had to explain to her that it was OK – even good – for Mary to sit at His feet and learn.

At Pentecost, Luke refers to the “multitude” as “devout men“, and Peter addresses this crowd as “men of Judea“, “men of Israel“, and “brothers“.

So, in Jesus’ secular and Jewish cultural context, He was understandably speaking to the men present. (And what was He telling these men who lived in a world that taught them that women were inferior to men, and that men could regard and treat women any way they wanted to? Jesus elevates the status of women by telling the men they’ve got to respect women even in their hearts. They’ve got to respect their wives by not committing adultery with other women in their hearts, and they’ve got to respect those other women by not using them as objects of sexual gratification in their hearts.) It would have been an unnecessary distraction from His message to address the women directly, and it would certainly have been viewed as inappropriate, maybe even perverted, for Jesus to have suggested that women lusted after men.

So Jesus’ culture, and the fact that lust is largely a sin committed by men, required Him to address this remark to men. But those two things do not have any bearing on the intrinsic sinfulness of lust itself, and they do not mean that this instruction applies only to men. In the section of Matthew 5 preceding the section on lust, Jesus deals with the sin of being angry with your “brother”. Does this mean anger is only sinful if you’re angry with a man instead of a woman? The section of Matthew 5 immediately following the section on lust says men may not divorce their wives except for unfaithfulness. Does this mean women are free to divorce their husbands for any reason? Of course not.

But it’s important to remember that Matthew 5:28 is not the only passage of Scripture that deals with lust. Let’s look at some others.

These passages describe lust as female attribute:

a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust?
Jeremiah 2:24a

Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers…everyone after whom she lusted…the Assyrians, after whom she lusted…Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians…all of them desirable young men.
Ezekiel 23:5a,7b,11,12a,c,

Ezekiel even describes Oholibah viewing pictures of men lustfully. Doesn’t it sound like a woman viewing pornography?:

But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea.
Ezekiel 23:14-16

In the Jeremiah passage, the lusting woman represents Israel. In Ezekiel, Oholah represents Samaria, and Oholibah represents Jerusalem. So these are not individual women lusting, rather, God is using the illustration of a woman lusting after her “lovers” to describe the unspeakable abomination of Israel’s idolatry. He was using the severest language He could to disgust His people over their sin and move them to repent and turn back to Him. God could have chosen any sin – male lust, robbery, murder, etc. – to represent how horrific their idolatry was to Him, but what did He choose? Female lust. Let that sink in.

Romans 1:18-32 clearly refers to the sins of both men and women, with verse 24 stating:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

These passages speak of lust in neutral, rather than male or female, terms:

and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion
2 Peter 2:10a

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
1 John 2:16

Lust is a form of coveting – the greedy yearning to have something that God has not given to you or has given to someone else, and that is certainly not limited to men. Also notice in these passages that you can covet a person, and that coveting is often linked to sensuality or sexual immorality.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Exodus 20:17

coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
Mark 7:22-23

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Ephesians 5:3,5

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

Finally, lusting after another person – adulterous coveting – is not loving your neighbor:

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:9

When you look at another person with lust, you are loving yourself. You are thinking selfishly about how that person could gratify your base desires, make you feel good, serve you. That is the antithesis of everything Jesus taught and stood for. Our Master, the One we follow and strive to be like, said:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

Jesus came to die on a cruel rugged cross to pay for the sins of the flesh. He would never have thought of using another person to gratify His own selfish desires. How could we?

Is lust a sin for women too? Absolutely. Stop it. Repent. Receive the merciful grace and forgiveness Christ offers.

Additional Resources:

Just Stop It: Instructions on how to repent at The Cripplegate

Hey, Porn Addict: Stop It by Gabriel Hughes

How do you stop looking at porn? at When We Understand the Text

God Over Porn

God Over Porn Women

Every Woman’s Silent Struggle: Fighting Lust with Sisters in Christ by Marian Jacobs

Confessions of a Lusting Christian Girl at Whole Magazine

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.

Basic Training: Being Berean- 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture


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For more in the Basic Training series, click here.

How do you know if what your pastor, you Sunday School teacher, your favorite podcast preacher, or your favorite Christian author is teaching you matches up with what the Bible actually says?

Did you know that you’re supposed to examine what you hear and read by the measuring stick of Scripture and reject anything that conflicts with it? Or do you just take for granted that if someone is a pastor, teacher, or Christian celebrity, he must know what he’s talking about, and what you’re hearing or reading must be biblical Christianity?

If you didn’t know you need to examine what you’re being taught, or you’ve always just assumed that if someone calls herself a Christian teacher what she’s saying must be biblical, sadly, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the overwhelming majority of the visible church. I’ve been a faithful church member all my life and, to this day, in the churches I’ve attended, I’ve never heard a pastor or teacher proactively preach or teach this biblical concept. I was nearly forty when I “stumbled across” the concept of being a good Berean – through a para-church ministry.

What does it mean to be a Berean, or discerning, or to “test the spirits”?

The term “Berean” comes from a little story in Acts:

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
Acts 17:10-12

“Testing the spirits” comes from 1 John 4:1:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Some Christians have an extra measure of discernment – “distinguishing between spirits” – as a spiritual gift:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;…to another [is given] the ability to distinguish between spirits,
1 Corinthians 12:4,10b

But all of these passages have the same foundational concept. All Christians are to believe what rightly handled, in context Scripture teaches, and reject whatever contradicts it. Although it is the responsibility of our pastors and church leaders to teach and lead us to distinguish between true and false doctrine, we are not to depend solely on others to “do discernment” for us. We need to learn how to be good Bereans ourselves.

How do we go about that?

Accept the fact that false doctrine/false teachers exist.

I know that sounds uber basic, even for “Basic Training,”, but there are many professing Christians who reject the idea that a pastor, teacher, or Christian celebrity – especially their personal favorite – could be a false teacher. If someone has gotten a job as a pastor, has a seminary degree, has thousands of followers on social media, or has a major Christian retailer promoting her conferences and selling her materials, what that person is saying must be biblical. Accepting the fact that false doctrine (teachings that conflict with Scripture) and false teachers (people who teach false doctrine) exist is the first hurdle a Christian has to get over in order to ultimately be a good, obedient to Scripture, Berean.

False teachers and false doctrine have been around since the birth of the church. Don’t believe me? Take a stroll through the New Testament. You’ll find that every single book (except Philemon) deals with false teachers or false doctrine in some way. It’s a major theme of both the Old and New Testaments. To deny that false teachers and false doctrine exist is to call God – the author of Scripture – a liar.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.
2 Peter 2:1-3a

Understand why discernment is important.

As with many things in Christianity, there is a spectrum of false doctrine. Some doctrines are so integral to salvation that if you believe falsely about them, you are not a Christian (regardless of what you think, feel, or call yourself) and you will spend eternity in Hell.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:6-9

Some false doctrines aren’t integral to salvation, but will warp and hinder your relationship with Christ and stunt your Christian growth. As an example this, I’ve often cited the false teaching that prayer is a “two-way conversation” (you talk to God and then He talks back to you). I was once a victim of this false teaching, and because I wasn’t hearing God speak to me I suffered all kinds of anxiety: wondering if I was truly saved, feverishly trying to dig out the hidden sin that must be there preventing me from hearing from God, lamenting my lack of faith that kept me separated from Him, and so forth.

But more important than the way false doctrine affects you or me personally is that God commands that we reject what conflicts with His written Word. Because God’s Word is objective truth, anything that stands in opposition to it is a lie. And Satan is the father of lies, even if the person telling those lies claims to be a Christian. To knowingly believe false doctrine is to reject God in favor of Satan. It is disobedience. It is calling God a liar. It robs God of the glory and honor due His name.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Romans 12:9

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Romans 12:16-17

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15

Submit to Christ and His Word as your authority in life.

If you have been genuinely regenerated, you are a new creature in Christ. You are no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to Christ. That means Christ is your Master. He gets to run your life and tell you what to do (including the command to reject false doctrine/teachers), not you, and you are under obligation to obey Him to the best of your Holy Spirit empowered ability. How do you find out what He wants you to do, believe, think, and say? He wrote it all down for you in the Bible. The Bible is Our Authority.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
Romans 6:16-19

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

Be a student of the Word.

As obedient servants of Christ, we’re to be students of the Word by default. This is how we get to know Christ better and learn how to obey and emulate Him. But an awesome side effect of being good students of the Bible is that it makes being a good Berean who “examines the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so” much easier. If you’re studying God’s Word, memorizing God’s Word, meditating on God’s Word, praying God’s Word, and applying God’s Word to your life, it’s going to be there in your heart, at the ready, so that when you hear teaching you can do a quick mental comparison to the Scripture and know whether to accept or reject that teaching.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

Where does the Bible say that?
Does the Bible really say that?

These simple questions are two of the most important tools in your Berean toolbox. If you hear a pastor say, “God wants you to be wealthy!” or your favorite women’s Bible study author writes, “God told me ________.”, the question you should be asking is, “Where does the Bible – rightly handled, and in proper context – say that?”

Sometimes a pastor or teacher will read or quote a passage, verse, or part of a verse, (sometimes from a faulty translation or paraphrase of the Bible) and give an explanation of what it means. Again, your question should be similar: “Does the Bible – rightly handled and in context – really say that?”

If you don’t already have the appropriate passages “stored up in your heart”, grab your trustworthy translation of the Bible and a good concordance and start studying. Make sure to study the context of the verses you look up. Who was the original audience of this verse? Is this verse addressing Christians or Old Testament Israel or someone else? Is it a command, or a promise, or a simple description of something that happened in history? In other words, find out what the Bible properly says about the teaching you’ve just heard. If the teaching matches up with what the Bible teaches, do what those Bereans did – “receive it with all eagerness.” If it doesn’t, chuck it.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Learn to discern.

Sometimes, when you’re learning a new skill, one of the best ways to get a feel for it is to watch an expert do it. I highly recommend listening to Chris Rosebrough’s podcast, Fighting for the Faith, if you’re new to this whole idea of comparing teaching to Scripture. At least until you feel confident in doing it yourself. A major portion of Chris’s program is playing the audio of various teachings and sermons and breaking in with thought-provoking biblical questions, comments, and Scriptures. You’ll learn how and when to ask, “Where does the Bible say that?” and “Does the Bible really say that?”, how to examine Scripture in context, and what some of the common false teachings of the day are.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Ephesians 4:11-14

Sometimes false doctrine is an honest mistake.

It could be a mistake on your part (especially if you’re just starting to learn your Bible and about discernment). Maybe you weren’t careful to look at the context of the Scripture you’re examining. Maybe you misunderstood its meaning. Maybe you misunderstood what the pastor, teacher, or author said or meant.

It could also be a mistake on your pastor’s, Sunday School teacher’s, or other Christian leader’s part. People are human and make mistakes even when they don’t mean to. Maybe your pastor just flubbed his words in the sermon and didn’t say what he actually meant to say. Maybe your Sunday School teacher thinks she has a biblical understanding of baptism, or peace, or evangelism because that’s what she was taught in church growing up, and just doesn’t realize what she’s saying conflicts with Scripture.

Does the person you think has taught false doctrine generally have a track record of acting biblically and teaching sound doctrine? Go to him kindly, humbly, and politely, and ask for clarification with the appropriate Scriptures at the ready. Does he readily admit he messed up and align himself with Scripture? Teachability, humility, and eagerness to submit to Scripture are some of the hallmarks of a doctrinally sound teacher who made an isolated honest mistake. Someone who digs her heels in and clings to false doctrine despite correction – that’s a false teacher, not an innocent mistake (see #7 here).

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Acts 18:24-28

Put your feelings aside and be objective.

You’ve weighed your favorite Bible study author’s teaching in the balance of Scripture and she’s been found wanting.

But you love her. You’ve been following her for years. You’ve gobbled up all her books and attended her conferences. You feel like you know her personally. Sadly, it’s at this point that many professing Christian women reject what Scripture says about their favorite teacher in favor of their emotional “bond” with her. Tragically, their bond with that teacher is stronger than their bond with Christ.

If your highest loyalty is to Christ, you won’t do that. You will cut off your right hand or gouge out your right eye to be true to Him and His teaching. The call to follow Christ is a call to die. Death to self, death to worldliness, death to relationships, even death to physical life sometimes.

Rejecting that false teacher might seem hard, but you must put your feelings for her aside and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, not what is right in your own eyes. Anyone who loves someone else more than Christ is not worthy of Him.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37-38

Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher


Being a good Berean is a skill many Christians aren’t aware of and don’t know they desperately need, but being a good student of God’s Word, and yielding your highest loyalty to Christ in what you believe, will grow you to greater Christlikeness and bring you joy, peace, and spiritual maturity.

Throwback Thursday ~ Performing a Sin-ectomy


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Originally published November 3, 2008

Have you ever faced an issue of obedience in your walk that seemed so difficult you felt like you’d never get it right? Maybe it’s something most would consider a “biggie”, like pornography, gambling, or alcoholism. Maybe it’s one of those heart issues that nobody sees except you and God, like racism, a critical spirit, pessimism, or bitterness.

Sometimes the sins we would consider to be “big” are, in a way, easier to deal with than the “small” ones. After all, it’s a lot easier to put an adult content filter on your computer than it is to prevent critical thoughts from jumping into your mind. You can take a different route home from work so you don’t even have to drive past your favorite bar, but we take our minds with us everywhere we go (although looking at the behavior of some people these days, you have to wonder!)

I’m working through not one, but two heart issues right now that are both really tough. (I’m not sure if God is piling on or being efficient!) I’m glad, though, that both issues finally came to a head in my spirit and that God is gradually working them out of me to make me more like Him. As I began the battle against these two sins, God sat me down and showed me some things I needed to know and do as I moved forward:

When God reveals sin in our lives, we can’t just ignore it. We must face it and fight it no matter how difficult it seems. If we don’t, the distance between us and God that was created by that sin won’t just remain, it will grow. This is because we’re now committing two sins, the sin itself, and the sin of refusing to deal with it and get it out of our lives.(James 4:17)

Only God can remove sin. We can try, through our own strength, to fix the problem ourselves, and we might even look successful temporarily, but ultimately, without His power, help, and strength, we wil fail. (Romans 7:14-25)

Prayer is absolutely imperative. Because we need God’s strength and power, we’ve got to ask Him for it at least daily, and preferably continuously throughout the day. I have found that if I don’t stay on top of these two obedience issues in my life by praying for God’s help every single day, I start slipping back into my old ways. (Matthew 26:41 )

Commit consciously and completely. Remember the scene in the movie The Karate Kid in which Mr. Miyagi is talking to Daniel about committing to karate? He says something to the effect of, “You do karate “yes”, safe. You do karate “no”, safe. You do karate “guess so”, get squashed, just like grape.” It’s much the same way with issues of obedience, except that the only safe choice is to “do obedience, ‘yes'”. It’s important to make a firm and definitive decision to give ourselves completely to obeying what God has revealed to us, otherwise we’ll be sure to waver when the going gets tough. Sometimes it is helpful to stand in front of the mirror and watch ourselves making a verbal pledge to God to obey, or write out our commitment on a piece of paper. (Psalm 119:57)

Take all the prayer you can get. While we should be discerning with regard to discretion, it’s helpful to enlist others to pray for us. Not only will we have more prayers going up on our behalf, but we will find that being accountable to those who are praying for us helps us stay on track. (Colossians 1:9-10)

Be ready for the enemy’s attack. If there’s one thing Satan hates, it’s a Christian who desires to be obedient to God. We have to realize that when we determine to set our feet on the road to obedience, he will attack. The obedience issue will suddenly become much more difficult; other things will pop up in our lives that have to be dealt with so we’ll feel like putting the obedience issue on the back burner; depression or discouragement may come. Those things are all designed to deter us and keep us in sin, but we have to stand firm and keep moving forward in obedience. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Get plenty of rest, eat right, and stay healthy. This is war. We can’t fight off the enemy of the flesh when we’re tired and weak. Being in top physical condition when doing spiritual battle helps immensely. (Mark 12:30)

Stumbling here and there is inevitable, but don’t give up! When babies first start to walk, they don’t just get up in the middle of the floor and walk perfectly from that day forward. They take a few steps and fall, then a few more steps and another fall. But, they keep on getting up and trying again. We’re going to mess up when we try to obey, but we can’t give up. We’ve got to keep at it. Eventually we’ll get the hang of it. (Proverbs 24:16, Galatians 6:9)

Be vigilant and always on the alert for opportunities to practice obedience. The main hurdle I’ve been facing with my obedience issues is that I react automatically, quickly, and without thinking, to the stimuli that trigger my disobedience. It’s almost Pavlovian in nature. I literally need God to change my mind and my thoughts. This has prompted me to pray two things: One, that God will help me to stop for a few seconds after a stimulus presents itself so I can think about my response before I give it; two, that every time I enter the presence of the stimuli, God will help me to be focused and alert to opportunities that arise to practice obeying Him. God has answered those prayers, and it has been immensely helpful. Looking for opportunities to obey has now become almost fun, like an Easter egg hunt. It is exciting to find that opportunity and know I’m doing the right thing for a change. (Romans 12:2, II Corinthians 10:5)

Be patient. If the sin we’re battling is entrenched, it’s likely gotten to that point over a long period of time (decades, in my case). It is probably going to take a while to eradicate it and replace it with Godly behavior. Although God sometimes sets us free from things immediately, usually with behavioral and thought issues He has us roll up our sleeves and do the hard work it requires to change. We just have to keep plugging away and remember that even if we only move an inch forward, we’re still moving forward. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4)

Keep score. Something I’ve found debilitating in the battle against disobedience is that at the end of the day I seem to remember only my failures and none of my successes. This is extremely discouraging and demotivating, so one of the things I have been praying is that God will help me remember what I’ve done right during the day. It has helped me to see my forward progress and reminded me to thank God for His help and give Him the glory for my successes. Additionally, as God has reviewed my successes with me, He has reminded me that He is cheering me on. He is always pleased when we get it right. (I Corinthians 15:56-57)

Eyes on the prize. “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'” Matthew 25:21 “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 We do what we do for God’s glory and the applause of Heaven.

Hang in there with God. It is worth it!

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 1


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Welcome to our new study, Imperishable Beauty: A Study of Biblical Womanhood! The title of our study is taken from 1 Peter 3:4 (one of the passages we’ll be studying):

but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

What does it look like to live “a godly life in Christ Jesus” as a woman in the 21st century? Over the next several weeks we’ll take a look at the topic of biblical womanhood, examining the Scriptures that teach us how to live as godly women. Young or old, married or single, if you’d like to grow in Christlikeness in your God-given role as a woman, this study is for you.

Many thanks to those who worked so hard on their entries for our title pic contest. You ladies really made it hard on me to choose just one design! I’ve selected the lovely image above, by Kasandra Shanholtz – who took this beautiful photo herself – as the official title picture for this study.

Thanks also go to these “honorable mention” entries. They are so creative and colorful!

With this study, we’re trying out something new – a Facebook discussion group just for this Bible study! It’s called the Imperishable Beauty Bible Study Discussion Group. You can click this link to join. You’ll also be able to find it near the top of the timeline of my Facebook page, or click on the word “groups”. It’s ladies only, and the discussion will be limited to this study only (no discussion of random issues unrelated to the study). Check it out!

Introduction to Imperishable Beauty

My philosophy of Bible study is that our main “diet” should be systematic, expositional study of the text. In other words: pick a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and study it through to the end. Then, pick another book and start again. This method of studying helps us understand passages in their context and correctly apply them to our lives, and helps us avoid eisegesis, taking passages out of context, and incorrectly applying them.

However, there is a place for the study of a biblical topic such as peace, sin, the family, God’s wrath, or biblical womanhood. For example: if you’re struggling to trust God because of a sudden circumstance in your life, you don’t have time to study through every book of the Bible to learn what the Bible says about trusting God. You may need to spend some time in focused study on passages from various books that deal specifically with the topic of trusting God, and that’s OK. My goal with this study is not only that you learn what the Bible has to say about the topic of biblical womanhood, but also to demonstrate how to do a topical study properly so you can do topical studies on your own when the need arises.

Normally, in the introductory lesson to my studies, we take a look at the author of the book of the Bible we’re studying, the audience he wrote it to, the historical setting of the book, and other “backstory” issues. But because this is a topical study, and we’ll be examining passages from various books of the Bible, we’ll have to briefly address those issues as needed in each lesson.

So in the introduction to this study, I’d like to address two items in your “backstory.”


If you’re not saved, this study isn’t going to be very helpful to you. You’ll probably find it confusing, frustrating, even angering. First Corinthians 2:14 says:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Only saved people are able to accept, embrace, and carry out biblical living because they have become new creatures in Christ and have the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable them to understand and obey Scripture.

This week, before we tackle biblical womanhood, I’d like everyone – even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re saved – to work through the Scriptures in my article Basic Training: The Gospel. Do you understand the biblical gospel? Have you truly repented of your sin and trusted Christ as Savior? Spend some time alone with God examining your heart and life against these Scriptures. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re genuinely saved, I would encourage you to put this study aside and work through my study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up first. You can’t be a godly woman if you don’t belong to God.

Expectations and Presuppositions

What do you expect out of this study? What kinds of ideas or preconceived notions are you carrying into this study? Take some time to answer the following questions.

1. When you hear the phrase “biblical womanhood”, what do you think of?

2. Without looking in your Bible, write a brief character sketch of the ideal “biblical woman.” What are some of her character traits, habits, things she focuses on, etc.?

3. What does your church teach about biblical womanhood- how a godly woman acts, talks, lives her life, etc.?

4. What Scriptures come to mind when you think about biblical womanhood?

5. Look up some of the Scriptures you listed in #4 and compare them to your character sketch from #2 and your answer to #3. How do they compare?

6. Why are you interested in a study of biblical womanhood, and what do you hope to get out of this study?

7. Why do you want to be a godly, biblical woman?

8. Some studies of “biblical” womanhood are the type that tell you how awesome you are, that “you’re enough” (whatever that means), that you can take charge of your life, girlfriend, and make all your dreams come true, and that you deserve to have the world at your feet.

This isn’t that kind of study.

Certainly, God is gracious, merciful, kind, comforting, and forgiving, and those wonderful attributes will be addressed as they come up in the texts we study. But becoming a godly woman also involves repenting from sin, obedience to Christ and His Word (even when we don’t feel like it), dying to self, and sometimes even suffering.

Are you prepared to have the Bible step on your toes? Are you committed to obeying Scripture out of love for Christ? Do you have the mindset that the Bible is your authority, not your own opinions, experiences, and feelings?


Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. If there’s a specific issue you struggle with regarding being a godly woman, ask God to open your eyes to the truth of His Word and strengthen you to obey Him in that area.  I’m excited to have you join me in this journey of discovering what God’s Word has to say about living life as a godly, biblical woman!