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OHCW Conference LIVE AUDIENCE Sneak Preview!

Ladies, did you enjoy last year’s first annual Open Hearts in a Closed World online conference? (If you missed it, you can still catch all of the sessions here.)

Well, the conference is back again this summer, July 12-16, and all of us at OHCW hope you’ll join us! The conference sessions will air each day on the AGTV app, YouTube, IGTV (Instagram), Facebook, and this year, here on the blog.

The conference is totally free and you don’t have to register or sign up. Just tune in each day at your convenience and watch the teaching sessions. You could even gather up some friends and watch together!

The theme of this year’s conference is Reverence in Radical Times, and our focal passage will be Titus 2:3-5:

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

Titus 2:3-5

2021 Speakers:

2021 Teaching Schedule:

Music by:

For more details on the conference, follow Open Hearts in a Closed World on Instagram, or join the OHCW Facebook group and ask the conference organizers directly.

All teaching sessions for the conference will be pre-recorded, so if you live in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area (or if you can get here!) we’ve got a special “sneak preview” treat for you!

You are cordially invited to be part of the
LIVE AUDIENCE
for the taping of my teaching session:

Teach What Is Good:
Discipling Younger Women
in the 21st Century

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
7:00-8:00 p.m.
Woodlawn Baptist Church
5805 Jones Creek Rd.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
FREE admission ~ Women only
No childcare will be provided

It’s a session relevant to both the “older women” and the “younger women” of Titus 2, so gather up a group of friends and make it a girls’ night out! You might even want to plan to go out to eat afterwards at New York Pizza and Pasta, Outback, City Cafe, or another nearby restaurant. And if your husband wants to drop you off and take the kids for a bite, McDonald’s, Burger King, Cane’s, and Taco Bell are all just down the street.

Masks are not required, though you’re welcome to bring one from home and wear it if you like. We anticipate that there will be plenty of space for those who would like to social distance (also not required).

If you have any specific questions about Woodlawn’s facilities or location, you may contact the church directly.

Come on out and let’s look at what it means to be Titus 2 women!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Kids’ devotionals, The Chosen- Season 2, Methodist apostasy)

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 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 (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


Just found out that Sarah Young is a false teacher. My kids were doing a Jesus Calling one year long devotional book, so now I’m scrambling to find a new one that is Biblically sound! Any recommendations on writers/teachers that have written devotions for children? They are 4, 9, and 11.

Good for you for finding out about Sarah Young and protecting your kids from her false teaching! That’s awesome!

I don’t recommend what I call “canned” (books, workbooks, DVDs, etc.) Bible studies and devotionals. I recommend that women study, and teach their kids (or other women or children), straight from the text of Scripture itself. And you’ve just experienced in real life the number one reason why I have adopted this policy. The majority of “Bible” study/devotional materials out there – especially the ones aimed at women and children – are written by false teachers.

Here’s how I handled this situation with my kids. Maybe it would be something you’d want to try:

I homeschooled my kids, and every morning before we started school, I would lead them in a brief time of Bible reading. We would pick a book of the Bible, and I would read them about a chapter out of it, asking age appropriate questions along the way. Proverbs or one of the gospels might be easiest to start with.

Here are some examples of questions you might want to ask as you read together:

  • Who is this passage about?
  • What is the main idea of this passage?
  • Why did God – the author of the author of the Bible Who says all Scripture is useful – put this passage in the Bible? 
  • What can I learn about God from this passage?
  • Is this passage telling me to do/not to do something? How can I obey it?
  • Is there something in this passage I need to pray about?

If you’re still a little nervous to “fly solo” just yet, you could also look through the Bible studies I’ve written and work through one or two of them with your kids, simplifying the questions for them. You’ll get the hang of it in no time, and soon you won’t need them any more.

When you use this approach of teaching directly from the Bible, you’re not only avoiding false teachers, you’re also training your kids to study straight from Scripture themselves, and how to do so, so they’ll learn how to have their own private Bible study time.

I know it might feel a little daunting at first if you’ve never done it this way before, but think of it this way: you can’t possibly do any worse than Sarah Young. :0)

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (NBCS, Homeschool resources, Piper…) (section 3)


I noticed that season 2 of The Chosen recently premiered. What do you think of it? Should I watch?

This section contains a minor spoiler.

Last year, when season 1 of The Chosen – an online “TV” series on the ministry of Jesus – premiered, I wrote a detailed review of each of the eight episodes, which you can read in my article The Mailbag: Overview/Review of “The Chosen” (An Online TV Series on the Ministry of Jesus). This article also includes background on creator/director Dallas Jenkins and some theological issues with him.

I’ve watched the first three episodes of season 2 (the only episodes which have been released as of today) and, so far, it seems like the same basic issues (good and bad) from season 1 are at play, so, at the moment, I’m not planning to write a review of season 2.

I didn’t watch episodes 1-3 of season 2 quite as carefully as I watched all of season 1, but again, nothing grossly heretical jumped out at me. I’m disappointed to see that they’ve doubled down on elevating Jesus’ women followers to the same level as the Twelve by adding an additional female “disciple”.

My thoughts? Read my review of season 1 and take all the same information and caveats to heart when deciding whether or not to watch season 2.


Is the Methodist church now considered a false church because they allow women as pastors?

Methodists, like Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc., come in a variety of “flavors”. There’s the United Methodist Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Free Methodists, and a bunch of others. The United Methodist Church (UMC) is the largest Methodist denomination in the U.S., and I think that’s the one you’re probably talking about.

The UMC started ordaining women to the pastorate in 1956, so that’s nothing new. So, yes, as a denomination, it was and is sinful for them to initiate and maintain that policy. And that’s one of the reasons I don’t add UMC churches to my list of reader recommended churches.

But there are other, higher order theological issues with the UMC that would cause me to warn people away from it way before women pastors. They are Arminian. They believe genuinely saved Christians can lose their salvation. They believe in prevenient grace, sinless perfection, evolution, and they are pro-abortion (per UMC policy). They are also very involved in social issues and take the liberal (unbiblical) side on most of those. Currently, the UMC is on the verge of a split over homosexual “marriage” and clergy.

All of this to say, the UMC is apostate over a ton of theological issues. Women preaching is only one of them, and not necessarily even the most important one.

If you’d like to do more research on Methodists and what they believe (including further details on their beliefs mentioned above) check out the resources here and here.


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.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Dependence- It’s What’s for Dinner

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

Dependence- It’s What’s for Dinner
by Jennifer Buck

It’s not hard to find in Scripture the responsibilities of a wife and mother. We know what it is that we are and are not to be doing. The struggle comes when that which we are to be doing… for example, being the keeper of the home, doesn’t come naturally and we don’t easily find fulfillment in it. Often, those things that we are not to be doing… giving all our energy and attention to things outside of the home at the expense of caring for our home, does come more naturally and seems more fulfilling. What’s a woman to do?

We understand that the Lord created us with our specific talents, abilities, and natural inclinations. We also understand that the Lord created us for a specific task: being our husband’s help-meet and caring for the home are our first priorities. I am not saying a woman cannot work outside of the home, but even in that, she still has a God given sphere of responsibility first and foremost to, and in, the home.

So, why do we not all, as believing women, have natural talent and interest in cooking, child-rearing and helping our husbands? Sin obviously clouds our senses and that must be dealt with, but even beyond that, many women who desire to want those things… just don’t.

God did not create me with a flair for cooking, nor with a desire for all things kitchen related. Even as a kid, I would do the task my mother told me and after finishing the job I would immediately back out of the kitchen with an “OK, job’s done, you don’t need me anymore, right? OK, I’m gone now…” attitude. I hated the kitchen. When I looked forward to marriage, I knew that I would have to prepare meals, but I was content to wait until I had to. And I did. Early on I learned to cook and did what was necessary. My family was not showered with Martha Stewart meals and exotic desserts. We ate, and we ate well, but it didn’t go far beyond that.

Soon, however, that ol’ “I-hate-the-kitchen-and-kinda-resent-that-I-have-to-do-this” attitude crept in. I was a bit jealous of my friends who loved cooking, and kept the house well, and kept their kids doing all kinds of fun stuff, while I’m over here just wanting time to enjoy opportunities to do what I felt was more natural to my talents and desires.

Then one day, it finally hit this thick skull of mine. God has called me to a task. God did not give me the natural talent or desire to do that task to which he has called me. Do you know why? Because He determined for me that this task was to be my area of dependence upon Him. It certainly is only one of many, but this was not an area I would pick for lesson time. But, He picked it for me. It has become my opportunity to depend on God to find joy performing the tasks I dislike. This means as soon as the thought of “What’s for dinner?” hits my brain, right on its heels must be the prayer, “Lord, equip me for what You’ve called me to do, and give me joy in serving my family.” Every. Time. “What’s for dinner?” has become a trigger to prayer for me.

For those of you who approach the kitchen the same way I do, God did not deal us a bad hand. He has not withheld from us a necessary element for finding joy in our role. He did, however, fashion us in such a way that that joy will only be realized by depending on Him. This is actually a very good thing. Not only do we have the opportunity to find a deep appreciation in serving our families, we also learn how to depend on God. That’s the best 2-for-1 sale I can imagine!

So, my dear look-a-likes, don’t begrudge the Lord’s lesson of dependence. For those of you who delight being in the kitchen, you have your own areas of struggle. You have an area to which you are called and it competes with that to which you are drawn. That is your area of dependence. Learn it, and learn it well. You will not regret it, and your family will reap its rewards.


Jennifer and her husband, Tom have been married for 33 years and have 3 children. For the last 15 years they have been serving in Lindale TX, where Tom is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church. Jennifer loves to teach and encourage women in the truths of Scripture.

Christian women

Throwback Thursday ~ It’s OK To Be Ordinary

Originally published: January 16, 2013

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.
Titus 2:3-5

Love our husbands and children.

Be self-controlled, pure, and kind.

Work at home.

Be submissive to our own husbands.

Image

In other words: ordinary. 

I didn’t see anything in there about changing the world or living out great big enormous dreams, did you? I think, often, as 21st century Christian women, the evangelical/church culture can make us feel like we are failures if we don’t have some sort of huge ministry or preach the gospel on the street corner every day. In Titus’ day that sort of thing would have been unbecoming for women. In our culture, women have more opportunities to be involved in various ministries than back then, but we have to remember that God calls us to faithfully serve Him in whatever life circumstances He has put us in. And He has not called the vast majority of us to be ministry superstars or Christian celebrities.

Image

He has called most of us to be ordinary.

Staying home and pouring the gospel into our families or being a gospel influence to others at work or teaching Sunday school or sharing the gospel through volunteer work, etc., though it may be on a small scale in the world’s eyes, is success and faithfulness in God’s eyes. And that’s all that matters.

You’re not failing God if you’re ordinary.

What are some “ordinary” ways you enjoy
serving God and your neighbor?

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 11

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

Matthew 7:1-14

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 7:1-14 in light of those passages.

Make a list of the topics Jesus deals with in this passage. Is there an obvious common theme connecting all of them, or is this more like a laundry list of assorted topics? How does one section (1-5, 6, 7-11, 12, 13-14) connect to the next? How does each section fit under the umbrella of the common theme?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in each section (1-5, 6, 7-11, 12, 13-14) of today’s passage?

How does “wide gate behavior” like hypocrisy and failing to treat others as you want them to treat you bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can “narrow gate behavior” like being good to others as God has been to you make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though they are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to hypocritical judgment, God’s goodness and care for His children, treating others the way you want to be treated, and the way to destruction vs. the way to life?

Despite having dropped the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching in chapter 6, how is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? How should pursuing a “narrow gate” heart and behavior be at the heart of our obedience to God’s laws?

4. Read verses 1-5. What does “Judge not,” mean? (Did you realize that in answering that question you are judging verse 1 to mean one thing and not another?) Does verse 1 mean we are never to make judgments of any sort, or, considering verse 1 in the context of verses 2-5, does it mean we are not to judge in a certain way? Compare 1-5 to these passages for clarity. List all the instances in 1-20 in which judgment is necessary, assumed, or instructed by Jesus. (Ex.: 6 – How do you determine whether someone is a dog/pig or not a dog/pig?) Is Jesus contradicting Himself or being hypocritical by saying “Don’t judge,” and then assuming we will make judgments or instructing us to make judgments? How do you know?

According to verses 1-2, what is the reason we are not to judge improperly or hypocritically? “That you be not judged” by whom? How does judging rightly, according to Scripture, and without hypocrisy reflect God’s attribute of perfect justice? How is judging others in a godly way one way of carrying out the “golden rule” (12)?

Think back to Jesus’ emphasis on hypocrisy in the first part of chapter 6 (lesson 9, link above) and compare it with His emphasis on hypocrisy in 3-5. Why is hypocrisy such a big deal to Jesus? Which attributes of God does hypocrisy contrast with?

5. Examine verses 7-11. What do these verses teach us about God’s goodness toward His children (Believers)? What do these verses teach us about prayer – the way we should ask and the way God answers?

Think about the analogy of God giving good things to His children the way earthly parents give good things to their children (11) as you answer the following questions: Does this passage teach us that God will give us whatever we want whenever we want it? Could discipline and suffering be good gifts from God? What did the son ask for in verses 9 & 10? Were these bad things or good things? Was he being selfish and greedy? Was he asking for luxuries or basic provision? How does the son asking the father for provision demonstrate trust in and dependence on his father?

Meditate on God’s goodness to you in all of these ways as we move into considering verse 12.

6. Summarize verse 12 in your own words. How do you want other people to treat you? Considering God’s goodness to you from the previous section, if you had a choice, wouldn’t you want other people to treat you with the same goodness with which God treats you? Does verse 12 preclude things like justly firing an employee, disciplining your children, or sitting on a jury and rendering a guilty verdict? Why or why not? Compare verse 12 with the second greatest commandment. How are they similar?

7. Christianity is both inclusive (ex: “whosoever will may come” – people from any walk of life, ethnicity, background, etc.) and exclusive. What do verses 13-14 teach us about the exclusivity of the gospel? Can you believe or behave any way you like and still be saved? According to this passage, are genuinely regenerated Christians the majority or the minority of the world’s population? How might this passage speak to the number of false converts (people who think they’re saved but have never been truly born again) in the church?


Homework

Many people think that making biblical judgments, such as…

  • saying a certain behavior is a sin
  • sharing the gospel with someone and calling her to repent for her sin
  • warning against false teachers
  • exercising church discipline
  • distancing oneself from professing Christians living in unrepentant sin

…is failing to “be like Jesus.” Make the argument -from rightly handled Scripture- that exercising biblical judgment is a) Christlike, and b) obedient to God’s commands.

Carefully examine verse 6. What does it mean for someone to be a pig or dog? Is it possible to argue someone into embracing biblical truth without God supernaturally opening her eyes to see it? How do you know a) when you’re dealing with a dog/pig, and b) when it’s time to gather up your pearls and get out of the pig pen? Pray that, this week, when an unbeliever is arguing against biblical truth – in real life or online – God will help you discern whether or not to engage that person in the first place, and, if you do engage, when is the appropriate time to apply Matthew 7:6.


Suggested Memory Verse

Sermons, Worship

Sermon: Biblical Worship

It’s not often you get to hear a great sermon out of Leviticus, so I wanted to share this one with you, preached by my friend Laramie Minga, Pastor of Worship and Discipleship at Woodlawn Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

If you’re a new Christian or maybe you’re just coming out of an unbiblical “church” and you’re not quite sure what biblical worship in a doctrinally sound church is supposed to look like, this sermon will help. And even if you are in a solid church with biblical worship, Laramie’s sermon will be an encouragement to you. The worship pastor at your own church might even enjoy giving it a listen.

The text for the sermon is Leviticus 10:1-11.

Here’s the visual for the elements of worship around the 37:34 mark:

I hope you’ll enjoy this great teaching from God’s Word as much as I did!