Throwback Thursday ~ The Daily Wonder of Easter

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Originally published April 1, 2014

“What should I preach about on Easter Sunday? Help me out, here.”

That’s the gist of a tweet I saw recently from a pastor. It caught me quite off guard, and it must have had the same effect on many others who punctuated their excellent advice –“preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins”- with lots of “duh’s” and other indications that this should be a no-brainer for a Christian pastor.

Traditionally, the prevailing line of thought about Easter (and Christmas) services has always been, “This is one of the two times a year that a lot of lost people go to church. It might be our only chance to reach some of them. Let’s make sure we give them the gospel.” Maybe after so many years of that, some pastors feel that their church members have heard it all before and they need to move on to something else in order to keep people’s attention. Sometimes, as a pastor, it’s tough to know just what to do to best reach people for Christ.

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But, see, the thing is, Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint.

We need the gospel.

We need it because we forget. We forget that we are great sinners in need of a great Savior. We forget to slow down and pour out our gratitude and worship for the sacrifice of our beautiful Savior. We forget to bask in our wonder, our amazement, at His glorious and triumphant resurrection.

As Christians, every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing –nothing– but the blood of Jesus. Daily, we must approach the tomb, see the massive stone rolled away and shout with joy over its emptiness. Hallelujah! Death has lost its victory and the grave has been denied! The very reason we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday is the celebration of an empty tomb. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday.

Remember, and rejoice!


Originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.
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1 & 2 Timothy: Lesson 1- Introduction

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Welcome to our new study, 1 & 2 Timothy: The Structure and Spirit of the Church!

What is God’s plan for the church? How did He intend for it to be structured and run, and what is His vision for us, His people, as we worship Him and love and care for one another? For the next several weeks we’ll work our way through the books of 1 & 2 Timothy, one of God’s “policy and procedure manuals” for the church, to learn about its organizational skeleton as well as the spirit of its people.

Many thanks to those who worked so hard on their entries for our title pic contest. You ladies were very creative and did some beautiful work! 


Cheryl Toepfer                             Becky McGraw


Patti Green                                    Terri Mobley

In the end, I had such a hard time figuring out how to capture the theme I had in mind for the study – bouncing from one thought to another and discontent with every idea that popped into my mind – that I decided to design the title pic myself. (If there’s a chance I might end up dissatisfied, I’d rather be dissatisfied with my own work than the work of one of you lovely ladies!)

My thought is that the sunrise in this photo conveys the idea of the dawn of the church in history, when 1 & 2 Timothy were written. As the light of God’s instruction “rises” upon the church as they read through these epistles, it clears away the surrounding fog of uncertainty about God’s will and His ways for His people. Also, I really like the colors. :0)

If you’re new to using my Bible studies, just a few housekeeping items and helpful hints:

The studies I’ve written (you can find all of them at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page) are like “training wheels”. They’re designed to teach you how to study the Bible for yourself and what kinds of questions to ask of the text so that, when you get the hang of it, you won’t have to depend on other people’s books and materials – even mine – any more. To that end, I do not provide answers for the study questions in the studies I’ve written.

My studies are meant to be extremely flexible and self-paced so that you can use them in the way that works best for you. You can do an entire lesson in one day or work on the questions over the course of the week (or longer). You do not need to feel obligated to answer all (or any) of the questions. If the Holy Spirit parks you on one question for several days, enjoy digging deep into that one aspect of the lesson. If He shows you something I haven’t written a question about that captures your attention, dive in and study it! Those are ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us through His Word. This is your time to commune with the Lord, not a school assignment or work project you are beholden to complete in a certain way by a certain deadline.

I will post a new lesson on the blog every Wednesday, so there is nothing to sign up for or commit to. Simply stop by the blog each week, or subscribe to the blog via e-mail to have the lessons delivered to your inbox.

With our last study (Imperishable Beauty) I “beta tested” a Facebook discussion group specific to that study. It was enthusiastically received, but after the first couple of weeks, there was virtually no participation. So with this study, I’ve decided not to put in the extra work of admin-ing a discussion group. You are welcome to form and admin your own discussion group if you like. I will also post the lessons on my own Facebook page each week, and anyone who would like to discuss the lesson can do so in the comments section of those posts.

I use hyperlinks liberallyThe Scriptures for each lesson will be linked either at the beginning of the lesson or in the lesson questions. Whenever you see a word in red, click on it, and it will take you to a Scripture, article, or other resource that will help as you study.

All of the studies I’ve written are suitable for groups or individuals. You are welcome to use them as a Sunday school or Bible study class curriculum (for free) with proper attribution.

You are also welcome to print out any of my Bible studies (or any article I’ve written) for free and make as many copies as you’d like, again, with proper attribution. I’ve explained more about that in this article (3rd section).


Introduction to 1 Timothy

Before we begin studying a book of the Bible, it’s very important that we understand some things about that book. We need to know…

Who the author was and anything we might be able to find out about him or his background.

Who the audience of the book is: Jews or Gentiles? Old Testament Israelites or New Testament Christians? This will help us understand the author’s purpose and approach to what he’s writing.

What kind of biblical literature we’re looking at. We approach books of history differently than books of wisdom, books of wisdom differently than books of prophecy, etc.

What the purpose of the book is. Was it written to encourage? Rebuke? Warn?

What the historical backdrop is for the book. Is Israel at war? At peace? In exile? Under a bad king? Good king? Understanding the historical events surrounding a piece of writing help us understand what was written and why it was written.

When the book was written. Where does the book fall on the timeline of biblical history? This is especially important for Old Testament books which are not always arranged in chronological order.

So this week, before we start studying the actual text of the book of 1 Timothy, we need to lay the foundation to understanding the book by finding the answers to these questions.

Read the following overviews of the book of 1 Timothy, taking notes on anything that might aid your understanding of the book, and answer the questions below:

Bible Introductions: 1 Timothy at Grace to You

Overview of the Book of 1 Timothy at Reformed Answers

Book of 1 Timothy at Got Questions

1. Who wrote the book of 1 Timothy? How do we know this?

2. Approximately when was 1 Timothy written? What is the geographical setting of the book of 1 Timothy? Here are some maps (scroll down to “1 Timothy”) that may be helpful as you study through the book of 1 Timothy.

3. Who is the original, intended audience of the book of 1 Timothy? Describe the historical setting (historic events, politics, sociology of the time, etc.) of 1 Timothy.

4. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of 1 Timothy: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic? What does this tell us about the approach we should take when studying this book versus our approach to books of other genres?

5. What is the theme or purpose of the book of 1 Timothy?

6. What are some of the major topics of instruction in the book of 1 Timothy? How do these topics relate to the theme of 1 Timothy?

7. What are some ways 1 Timothy points to and connects to Jesus?

8. What else did you learn about 1 Timothy or the setting of this book that might help you understand the text of the book better?

Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. What are some ways your pastor and church could be encouraged by the instruction of 1 Timothy? What might you learn that could make you a healthier church member? Do you have any areas that need improvement when it comes to the way you serve God or your brothers and sisters in Christ? Ask God to grow you in those areas as we study together 1 & 2 Timothy: The Structure and Spirit of the Church.

Top 10 Best Easter Songs

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Originally published April 3, 2015easter songs

There are so many great Easter hymns and worship songs out there. After all, how can a songwriter go wrong proclaiming the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? It was hard to narrow it down to my ten favorites, but I gave it a shot.

(Please note- I am not familiar with all of these musicians. Their presence here is not an endorsement of any unbiblical theology any of them may hold to. Please thoroughly vet the doctrine of any Christian musician you choose to follow and make sure it matches up with Scripture.)

1. Jesus Paid it All– Nominated by my 11 year old son, who said in the car on the way home from church, “They need to do ‘Jesus Paid it All’ next week, because it is a very appropriate Easter song.”

 

2. Arise My Love– The grave could not hold the King!

 

3. Low in the Grave He Lay– You’re not really a Southern Baptist unless your church does this one every Easter. Bonus- I’ve never heard this song in Korean(?), but this choir does a lovely job.

 

4. The Old Rugged Cross– What a precious song this is and what a beautiful job this gentleman does on it.

 

5. Sunday’s On the Way– The resurrection is not an allegory for your personal problems coming to an end. Other than that, this is pure 80’s “in your face, Devil!” CCM awesomeness.

 

6. The Wonderful Cross– Who ever thought something so horrific could be so beautiful? But it is.

 

7. Man of Sorrows, What a Name– Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

8. He’s Alive– The resurrection through the eyes of Peter. Oh how sweet it must have been for him to see Jesus alive again.

 

9. I’ve Just Seen Jesus– I love singing this one with my husband.

 

10. Christ the Lord is Risen Today– He is not dead. He is alive. We have this hope in Jesus Christ! This arrangement is such a nice blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!

The Mailbag: Answering a Fool #2

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Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:5

There’s a lot of foolishness masquerading as Christianity these days. Occasionally, I get e-mails, messages, and comments showcasing this type of foolishness. It needs to be biblically corrected so these folks can stop “being wise in their own eyes,” repent, and believe and practice the truth of Scripture. From time to time, I’ll be sharing those messages in The Mailbag with a biblical corrective, not only so the e-mail/message writer can be admonished by Scripture, but to provide you with Scriptures and reasoning you can use if you’re ever confronted with this kind of foolishness.


(This reader’s remarks {in blue} are reprinted in full.)

I read your piece on Priscilla Shirer and it’s simple – you’re a White woman who knows nothing about Black Christianity or Black people in general.

How dare you suggest that there’s such a thing as white Christianity or black Christianity or any other kind of Christianity defined by race or culture? Have you never read the New Testament? The Apostles taught time and again that the gospel unites – not divides – us, because they were establishing the church in a place that had all kinds of ethnic and cultural divisions. Shame on you for trying to reinstitute division in rebellion against Christ’s command that His people are to dwell in unity!

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6

Furthermore, how dare you assume that I know nothing about black people? You don’t know me or anything about me. You are stereotyping me according to your own bigotry, assumptions, and prejudices against white people, and you’re stereotyping black people by assuming that all black people have the same worldview as you, and you’re putting race above Christianity by making this a racial issue instead of making this a biblical issue.

I have evaluated Priscilla Shirer the same way I’ve evaluated every other teacher on this blog – not according to race, but according to the Bible. You are the one who has come along and cast aspersions on me because I’m white and therefore supposedly unqualified to evaluate a teacher who happens to be black. Frankly, if I were Priscilla Shirer, I would be outraged that someone would suggest I should be held to a different standard than white teachers because of the color of my skin.

We already [sic] handling Mrs. Shirer, no need to put yourself in our lane and comment when you clearly know nothing about our ways or conduct.

Just for the sake of argument, I’m going to meet you on your own racial terms for a minute. If by “handling” you mean rebuking Priscilla for her false doctrine and insisting she teach sound doctrine, then your so-called “black Christianity” is not “handling” Priscilla Shirer, it is rewarding her.

Since you read my article, I’m sure you noticed that T.D. Jakes – who has to be one of the most (if not the most) popular, high profile, and influential black “pastors” in America – invited Priscilla to his “church” in 2016 to present her with the “Lady of Destiny” award. The audience was filled with other black evangelicals cheering Priscilla on, including her mother, Lois Evans, and her father, Tony Evans (another extremely popular, high profile, and influential black pastor) who also celebrated this “success” (Lois Evans’ word) of Priscilla’s on Instagram. How in the world can this type of thing be called “handling” her?

Furthermore, Priscilla has been teaching false doctrine since at least the early 2000s. How much longer is it going to take “black Christianity” to “handle” her?

Now I’m going to step out of the “lane” of racialism and back into the lane of biblical Christianity:

If you are a genuinely regenerated Christian, you and I (and every other Christian of every other race) are in the same lane, with the same ways, and the same conduct, because our lane, ways, and conduct are not dictated by race, they’re dictated by something that transcends race – the Bible. If you’re allowing your lane, ways, and conduct to be dictated by race instead of Scripture, you’re sinning by making an idol out of race (because anything that we prioritize above God and His ways, as revealed in His Word, is idolatry) and you need to repent.

I say this out of love so you don’t say something else and be seen as possibly prejudiced. I don’t expect a repost. That’s cool, but I do expect at least a double take when opining on us POC [people of color] in the future.

If you’re a Christian, you have no right to “expect” me to do anything but be obedient to Christ and His Word – just like I expect you to be. Just like I expect Priscilla to be. I will not degrade and disrespect the teachers I evaluate by drawing lines of racial distinction and suggesting that black teachers be held to a different standard, or “handled” differently than teachers of other races. That would be reason for people to see me as prejudiced. I will continue to judge teachers, not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character and their teaching, and whether or not that character and teaching align with rightly handled Scripture. As Jesus Himself said:

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24

You are not saying any of this out of love. At least you’re not saying it out of biblical love, because biblical, Christian love would never falsely accuse, belittle, and slander a sister in Christ as you have done to me. Biblical love – love for Christ and His church – would never seek to divide Christians over race. Biblical love would never redefine Christianity according to race instead of defining it according to Scripture. Never.

Biblical love knows there’s only one color that matters. It’s the color that unites us together in one heart, mind, spirit, and family – the red, rich, royal blood of Christ.


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.

Reliance on God and His Word Conference Audio

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It was my joy, recently, to speak at the Reliance on God and His Word conference at Princeton Bible Church.

PBC was so kind to record audio of the main sessions of the conference:

I hope you’ll enjoy my two sessions…

Relying on God and His Word

 

Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Reliers Only

 

You can also listen at PBC’s website and hear Amy Spreeman’s wonderful sessions as well!

If your church is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Throwback Thursday ~ When God Says No

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Originally published May 19, 2017

When I was sixteen years old, I was convinced God was calling me to be the next Sandi Patty…I wanted God to use me- to put me on a stage every night in front of thousands of people so I could sing to them about Him…Somehow, it never occurred to me to care what God thought about all this or what He might want to do in my life. If I thought about it at all, I just assumed He was on board with my plans. Like, how could He not be, right?¹

There’s much ado about dreaming big dreams for God in modern evangelicalism. Think of the biggest thing you want to do for God and then “step out on faith” and make it happen. Sometimes we’re even told God is offended if our dreams aren’t big enough. It means we don’t have enough faith. It means we don’t believe God – or love Him – enough.

Or does it?

If you study through the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, you’re going to get to know Saul and David pretty well. And as you observe and compare their words, their behavior, and their interactions with God, a major theme that jumps out is obedience to God’s word versus doing what’s right in your own eyes.

Saul was an “I did it my way,” kind of guy. Time and again, he looked out for number one. Tried to build up his own kingdom. Did what he thought was best.

In 1 Samuel 15, God told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites. Everything. Every living creature and all their stuff. All means all.

But Saul had big dreams. So, he destroyed all the worthless stuff and all the people, but he saved the king and all the valuables. He disobeyed God’s clear word in favor of what he wanted to do.

Here’s the interesting part, though. When Samuel showed up and said, “Why did you disobey the Lord?” Saul said, not once, but twice, “I did obey the Lord.”

Why? Because Saul was going to offer some of those sheep he spared in a grand and showy sacrifice to the Lord. He was going to “do great things for God” and, in his mind, that was far better and more glorious than simple obedience to God’s explicit command.

By contrast, God says David was “a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” David sought the Lord and obeyed His words.

But David had a dream, too. He loved God deeply and wanted to do something big to honor Him.

“See now, I dwell in a house of cedar,” David said, “but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” David wanted to build a grand and glorious house for God.

It was a good dream. A dream that stemmed from godly motives. A dream that was, in reality, part of God’s plan.

But God said, “No.” Because it wasn’t God’s plan for David.

Sometimes there are things we want to do for God in life or in ministry because our hearts are fairly bursting with love for Him. Nothing small or insignificant will suffice – we want to do great things for Him because He has done so many great things for us.

Can I just tell you – that heart is what is most precious to God, not whatever it is you can dream up to do for Him. Every parent who’s ever received a clay ashtray or a bedraggled dandelion from her five year old knows this. We love the heart of our child who wants to show her love for us, even if the gift itself isn’t quite right.

And just like you would have to tell your five year old no if she wanted to demonstrate her love for you by having the family skip church on Sunday so she could cook you a four course brunch, God sometimes has to say no to the things we want to do for Him because those things – even though motivated by love for Him – conflict with His word, are out of sync with His timing, or aren’t His specific plan for us, personally.

It might be your heart’s deepest desire to serve God as the perfect Proverbs 31 wife…and God says no by declining to provide you with a husband. Maybe it’s always been your dream to raise a house full of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…and God says no by preventing you from bearing or adopting children. “I’ve always loved to tell people about Jesus,” you think, “Surely He’s calling me to be a pastor.”…and God says no in His word because that’s not His plan for Christian women.

God said no to David, too. It wasn’t the right time. It didn’t fit with what God was trying to accomplish in Israel at that moment. And David wasn’t the right man for the job. God had other things He wanted David to do.

How did David respond when God said no? Did he push forward with his own plans and build the temple anyway? Spend the rest of his life sulking or angry at God? Turn away from God all together?

No. David responded with humility that God would use him in any way, joy over God’s love and blessings, and thanksgiving for God’s plans and promises.

That’s what a heart that truly loves God does. It obeys Him. It finds joy in any task He might bring our way. It is thankful and humbled that God takes any notice of us whatsoever and lavishes His grace and mercy upon us by allowing us to do what He wants us to do.

God didn’t allow David to build the temple. God didn’t allow me to become a top Christian recording artist. Maybe there’s something God isn’t allowing you to do. Will you joyfully obey Him in the things He does have planned for you? Will you be thankful and humbled that He desires to use you as part of His good plans and purposes even if those plans and purposes don’t match your own?

May we all follow David’s example – and the Greater David’s example – by saying, meaning, and living out, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” even when God says no.


Additional Resources:

How do I move on after God says “no”?

New Bible Study Kickoff and Title Pic Contest

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Happy Wednesday, Ladies!

Today, we’re kicking off our new study…

…with a fun title pic contest!

It’s common these days to hear pastors say that they have a “vision” for the church. But how often do we stop and think about God’s vision for the church? In 1 & 2 Timothy, God’s instructions to a young pastor, we’ll see the beauty of God’s attribute of administration as He sets the practical aspects of the structure of the church in order, but we’ll also see His heart for the spirit of the church to be wholly oriented toward Him – for His glory and our good. This is church as it was meant to be – then and now.

But before we get started studying, how about a little fun?

You’ve probably noticed that I design a title picture for each Bible study I write. Here are a few past title pics:

(You can see the rest of them at the Bible Studies tab, if you like.)

Y’all have sent in some beautiful and creative entries in our past title pic contests, so, once again, I wanted to get some of you involved in the design process for our new study.

Do you enjoy and have a knack for photo editing? Know someone who does? If so, I’m accepting submissions for title pictures for the 1 & 2 Timothy study. If your submission is chosen it will be used each week of the study, and you’ll be credited (name or website) by watermark. I’d love to be able to offer a huge cash prize, but, hey, we’re small potatoes here. This is just for fun and maybe a little publicity for your site, if you have one.

Contest Guidelines

 You must use images that don’t require attribution. Pictures you’ve taken yourself are fine, as are images from sources such as Pixabay, Pexels, Freely, Unsplash, StockSnap, or other free stock photo web sites. Please include the image source web sites you use along with your submission. (You cannot just grab and use any old picture off the internet. Photographers own their images and usually require permission, attribution, and often a fee, for their use.)

Title pics should be landscape (a horizontal rectangle) with a width of 640-1500 pixels and proportionate height. I prefer JPG images, but PNG is fine, too, if necessary.

 Your title pic must contain the full title of the study: 1 & 2 Timothy: The Structure and Spirit of the Church. (Be sure to double check your spelling). 

 If your submission is selected, I’ll be glad to watermark it with your website address (please submit your picture without any watermarks) as long as your web site doesn’t conflict with my statement of faith or my beliefs outlined in the Welcome tab.

 Deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 15, 2019

E-mail your title pic submission along with your full name, web site address (if any), and the source(s) you used for your image(s) to MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com.

 Please don’t be offended if your submission isn’t selected. If I peruse all the submissions and I’m just not “feeling it,” I may still elect to design one of my own.

Feel free to share this around with friends who have an interest in photo editing. If you want to take a whack at it for fun but don’t know where to start, play around with Be Funky, PicMonkey, or Canva and see which one works best for you. Think about God’s vision for His church and try to capture the theme of 1 & 2 Timothy in your image.

Happy designing!

Favorite Finds ~ April 9, 2019

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Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

In February’s edition of Favorite FindsI mentioned that I was hoping to have the opportunity to see the movie  Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy, which was in theaters in mid-March. Well, life intervened and I wasn’t able to get to the theater when it was playing, so I guess I’ll have to wait for it to come out on Netflix or something. Did you see the movie? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear a little feedback…or maybe you’d like to write a review of the movie as a guest post?

 

“I’m not sad that I’m not and couldn’t be a church planter or lead pastor. I don’t feel restricted or resentful. Instead, I feel full.” I always appreciate the voices of sisters in Christ who are leading unashamedly under the banner of strong, biblical complementarianism. Complementarianism is a blessing, not a burden, so I really enjoyed Whitney Woollard’s* article Delighting in Authority: How to Create a Culture of Happy Complementarians over at Eternal Perspectives Ministry.

 

Go Back to the Local Church“…since loving Christ entails loving the Church; it’s time for you now to heed the summons of God’s Word and go back into a local church, a local expression of the Body of Christ.” I really appreciate Jennifer Brogdon’s* gentle and compassionate approach to encouraging wounded saints to go back to church (especially compared to my usual “bull in a china shop” treatment of the same topic) in her article Go Back to the Local Church.

 

Image result for life in four stages

Who’s in the mood for a free book? Here’s a PDF copy of Al Mohler’s Life in Four Stages: A Biblical Celebration of Childhood, Youth, Adulthood and Age.

 

 

 

Want to study the Ten Commandments? Here’s a free  devotional excerpted from Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them.

 

If you’re looking for great listening and reading material, you cannot go wrong with Steve Lawson. I highly recommend him. Here’s an excerpt from his sermon It Will Cost You Everything. (Subtitles in various languages available.)


*I’m not very familiar with these writers or all the content at these blogs. I do not endorse anything you might find at these sites that conflicts with my theology as outlined at the Welcome and Statement of Faith tabs at the top of this page.

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Quickievangelism, the CRCNA, JMac on the mark of the beast…)

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

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Yesterday at the store I had a hard time with witnessing to someone. I’m pretty sure it’s because I was only there for a total of 3 minutes. My question is, how do I witness to someone in such a short time?

It brings me so much joy to hear that you are out there sharing the gospel!

I would recommend using tracts. That way if your time with the person gets cut short, you can give them the gospel “to go”.

I use Bezeugen Tract Club tracts. If you join their “tract club”, they will send you 30 free tracts a month. They are the size of a business card, so they’re really convenient to carry in your purse.

Living Waters also has a great selection of tracts. And, while they’re not exactly tracts, Wretched has some very good online evangelism resources and is currently offering a free evangelistic booklet (you pay only shipping/handling) for giveaways at outreach events.

Keep up the great work of sharing the good news of the gospel!


Is the Christian Reformed Church a church that teaches sound doctrine?

It’s always good to do our due diligence when considering a new church or denomination, so this is a super question.

The Christian Reformed Church in North America is a rather small denomination (230,000 people in membership) that I’m not very familiar with, so I went poking around their website.

There are a lot of things that look very encouraging, doctrinally about the CRCNA. They affirm the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as well as the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort. The plan of salvation presented on the website is biblical. In fact, most of what I read at the CRCNA website seemed solid.

However, a few red flags jumped out at me as I explored the site:

🚩 The heavy emphasis on “justice”. There’s something about “justice” on nearly every page of the site. Certainly Christians should uphold biblical justice, but many churches and denominations today have bought into the secular social justice movement, which is decidedly unbiblical, as it promotes feminism, normalization of sexual perversion, and unbiblical methods of addressing issues like racism, immigration, poverty, etc. It appears that the CRCNA at least leans in the direction of the social justice movement.

🚩 The role of women in the church. The CRCNA’s position reads: 

All congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America may allow women to serve in the office of minister, elder, deacon, or commissioned pastor. The CRC recognizes that there are two different perspectives and convictions on this issue, both of which honor the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God…

This is unbiblical, not to mention self-contradictory. Either Scripture allows women to serve in these capacities or it does not. (And it clearly does not.) Both positions cannot be true at the same time. If a church adopts the unbiblical position, it is not “honoring the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God.”

🚩 Some of the CRCNA’s position statements have a “squishy”, progressive, or blatantly unbiblical tilt rather than an unflagging commitment to Scripture. For example:

Creation care (environmentalism): “We are compelled to address human-induced climate change as an ethical, social justice, and religious issue…”

Ecumenicity (unity with other churches): “[The CRCNA] also wishes to engage churches of other traditions such as…the Roman Catholic Church, and Orthodox churches.” (Catholicism and the major Orthodox traditions hold many unbiblical views including an unbiblical soteriology. Scripture forbids Christians from unifying with such organizations.)

Homosexuality: “Homosexuality [is] a condition of personal identity in which a person is sexually oriented toward persons of the same sex…for which the person may bear only a minimal responsibility…The church should do everything in its power to help persons with same-sex orientation and give them support toward healing and wholeness.” (Homosexuality is not a “condition of personal identity” any more than adultery or thievery is. It is a sin that the person is just as responsible for as the adulterer or thief is for his sin. We would not speak in terms of “support toward healing and wholeness” for an adulterer or a thief, we would speak in terms of repentance and mortification of sin, just as we should speak when someone’s sin of choice is homosexuality.)

Pentecostalism (charismaticism, sign gifts, etc.): “Acknowledge the gift of prophecy today…Think of prayer as a dialogue, not a monologue, and be attentive to what God is saying as you pray…be willing to engage in scripturally sound deliverance ministry against demonic powers…”

If you are considering attending or joining one of the CRCNA churches which does not allow women to serve in unbiblical roles, I would recommend setting up an appointment with the pastor to carefully and seriously discuss these issues at length, along with any other questions you may have. If you have the option of joining with a non-CRCNA church that has a more solidly biblical stance on these issues than your local CRCNA church, I would encourage you to go with the non-CRCNA church.


John MacArthur has said, that it’s possible to take the mark of the beast and still be saved? I notice that you endorse him, do you believe this is correct? 

I think a lot of people have stretched what Dr. MacArthur said wildly out of context and out of proportion. So the first issue here is to make sure you have a clear understanding of what he actually said and meant from Dr. MacArthur himself, not from random bloggers or people on YouTube. You can read Dr. MacArthur’s position statement on this issue (written by spokesman Phil Johnson) here.

As for my opinion on Dr. MacArthur’s position, I think it’s biblical and well-reasoned, but this particular issue – as with most detail-oriented eschatological issues – is not something I feel compelled to expend much time and energy on. When Christ returns, events will unfold as laid out in Scripture. Until then, we have a limited understanding of what will transpire and the order in which things will transpire, and much of what constitutes eschatology today is educated guessing. I think it is much more fruitful to spend our time evangelizing the lost and discipling the saved so that the church will be spiritually ready for the return of Christ. Whatever may happen in the days surrounding His return, we know that none of His sheep will be lost.


Since my last “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, I’ve heard back from two of the readers whose questions I addressed, and I wanted to share their responses with you:

From the discouraged husband I asked you to pray for:

I am extremely encouraged by the people who are stepping forward and praying for me…Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. They reach into the darkest places and are invaluable.

From the lady needing help with her nursing home ministry:

Thank you Michelle for answering, I’ve been thinking of finding a church. I have to be truthful, it wasn’t the answer I was hoping for, but it is the answer I think I needed.


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.

Broken Link Update

Just a quick little note of update…

Remember this? Y’all have been so helpful in letting me know where all my broken links are. Please keep letting me know when you come across one.

I’ve been making my way around the blog fixing those pesky broken links. As of today, all of the links at all of the tabs at the top of the blog are fixed, including each lesson of every Bible study, and all of the articles under the “Popular False Teachers” tab.

I’ve also fixed the articles that get used the most often, including all of the articles in my Rock Your Role series, my Basic Training series, and a couple of discernment articles.

If there’s a particular article of mine that you use often or one you were wanting to share (but were waiting for the links to get fixed), please let me know, and I’ll move those to the top of the “fix it list”.

Don’t forget – if you click on a link and see this error message:

all you have to do is go up to your browser bar and delete the word “books” in the web address (so it says MichelleLesley.com/blahblahblah instead of MichelleLesleyBooks.com/blahblahblah) and it’ll take you right where you want to go.