Book Reviews

Book Review ~ Reviving New England


I’ve said it dozens of times: I don’t write book reviews. But I’m fortunate that there are awesome, godly people out there who do, and who do a bang up job of it. So today I wanted to share a great review of the book Reviving New England. The review was written by my friend Rachel Williams over at, and the book was written by my other friend, Nate Pickowicz, pastor, podcaster, and blogger extraordinaire. They are both lovely, doctrinally sound people I’m proud to know, so I’m certain you’ll enjoy both the review and the book.

Reviving New England 
(Why Women Ministry Leaders Should Read This Book)

by Rachel Williams

I ordered Nate’s book, Reviving New England: The Key to Revitalizing Post-Christian America, and I sit down to enjoy a treatise on the history of liberalism in New England, and what pastors in New England need to do today to turn the churches back to Christ.

Instead, I spent the majority of my time reading chunks of the books out loud to my husband, whispering, “YES!,” and underlining massive sections of it, realizing that every woman who leads women’s ministries across the United States (and beyond) needs this book.


Pickowicz does start the book with a brief history of the rise (and fall) of Christianity in New England. For those of you not students of church history, he does an excellent job of making this information relevant to today and fast-paced. (Trust me, I’ve heard my fair share of less-than-exciting lectures on this topic. He does a great job keeping your interest.) However, the history lesson is brief, and this is where the book becomes, in my opinion, necessary for women’s ministry leaders today.

The rest of the book is written for pastors and centers on how to preach the Word of God. He does a masterful job of navigating the problems in so many pulpits and offering real practical solutions to guiding the church back to sound biblical principles.

So why do I think women’s ministry leaders need this?…

Click here to continue reading.


The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

This article is kept updated as needed.


I’ve noticed that false doctrine is not just restricted to sermons, conferences, and Bible studies, but that I have to watch out for it in the contemporary Christian music (CCM) I listen to as well. Are there any CCM groups, artists, or songs I should avoid? Can you recommend any specific doctrinally sound artists or groups?

You’re absolutely right that we need to be careful about what we listen to that wears the label “Christian.” There is a lot of beautiful, doctrinally sound, theologically rich music of all genres out there, and there’s a lot of junk as well.

I’d like to offer a couple of caveats before diving into the answer for this question:

1. I plead extreme ignorance when it comes to CCM. With rare exception, it’s not a genre I enjoy, I don’t listen to it, and the worship service I attend uses “traditional” (mostly hymns) music, so I’m not often exposed to it. I’m all in favor of doctrinally sound CCM for those who like that genre, it’s just not my personal cup of tea or an area I research.

So, in this article I’m going to tell you what little I know, point you to people and resources better equipped to answer this question, and lean heavily on you discerning CCM listeners for help (more on that in a bit).

2. There is lousy theology in every genre of music. There are lousy hymns, lousy Christian rap, lousy CCM, lousy gospel, lousy Southern gospel, etc. This question was asked specifically about CCM, so that’s what the answer is going to focus on. It’s not a debate about hymns or exclusive psalmody versus CCM.

3. Depending on music from currently popular musicians is a lot like depending on Bible studies from currently popular evangelical authors. The majority of them aren’t doctrinally sound, and even the few that are seem to be apostatizing at an alarming rate. My recommendation to churches? Either go back to using tried and true doctrinally sound hymns, sing the Psalms, or find some talented musicians and lyricists in your own (doctrinally sound) church and put them to work writing songs for your worship service.


Why is it important to be discerning about Christian music? Because the music we use in church and listen to at home teaches us theology, and it sticks in our memories (which is why a lot of Scripture memory programs set Bible verses to music to help with memorization). You probably couldn’t recite verbatim a quote from last Sunday’s sermon, but I’ll bet you know the lyrics of a lot of songs by heart. It’s important that those lyrics contain good theology.

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

Now, every time I address the subject of being discerning about worship music and that churches should not use worship music from heretical sources (such as Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation, see below) someone who’s defending using music from these heretical sources will invariably pipe up with this well worn canard1:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide, and their music is in the public domain, so your church isn’t financially supporting them or their work. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. Contemporary musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following contemporary musicians’ heresy.

Artists to Avoid:
Jesus Culture
Bethel Music
Elevation Music
Kari Jobe
Nichole Nordeman 
(Nichole has extensive ties to a plethora of false teachers and was recently very vocal in her support of Jen Hatmaker’s embrace of homosexuality in the church.)
Phil Wickham (in the NAR camp, ties to Bethel)
Lauren Daigle
Audrey Assad (Catholic)
Matt Maher (Catholic)

There are probably many others, but those are the only names I personally know to give you.

Doctrinally Sound Artists:
Keith and Kristyn Getty
Sovereign Grace Music
Indelible Grace Music

Brian Sauvé

Again, I’m sure there are many others, I’m just not familiar with them. *(January 2021- Keep an eye on the Gettys. They’re still doctrinally sound as far as I know, but over the past couple of years, they have been platforming some biblically problematic personalities at their events. Jon Harris discusses this on the Russell Fuller reveals more, The Getty’s invited who?, & SEBTS prof. takes on The Gospel Coalition episode of Conversations that Matter, ~28:04)

Owen Strachan recently made some recommendations, though they’re not all contemporary, on Twitter: (others also responded with suggestions, click here to see):

(I’m not familiar with all of these, but in case you need their first names to look them up: Bob Kauflin, Stuart Townend, Matt Papa, John Newton, Martin Luther, Horatio Spafford.)

My worship pastor friend, Darren, has put together this Spotify list for his church. Most of these musicians are doctrinally sound, and I trust Darren’s discernment. I’m not familiar with all of the artists on the list, but a couple of notes on a few I am familiar with: CityAlight is the music ministry of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, which allows women to preach and has a few ties to Hillsong (covering Hillsong songs, also this video was recorded at Hillsong studios, see info. section). Selah is not a group I typically proactively recommend, as one of its members, Todd Smith, is the husband of Angie Smith. Shane and Shane uses Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation music (see “Popular False Teachers” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.). You will, of course, need to vet for yourself the theology and associations of any musician or group you decide to follow.

I would recommend three things when deciding whether or not to listen to someone:

1. Look up the lyrics of about half a dozen of her latest songs and examine the lyrics against Scripture. It’s helpful to look at the words in front of you without hearing the music so you can really think about them. Are they biblical?

2. Look to see who the artist associates with and admires. The easiest way to do this is to check their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Do you see scads of re-tweets and shares of posts from false teachers?

3. Go to the artist’s web site, and examine her statement of faith (if she has one) and the venues she’ll be playing. Does she frequently play at places like Bethel? Lakewood? The Potter’s House? Is she the worship leader at a lot of conferences featuring false teachers? You might also want to look at her bio to see if she mentions her home church. If she’s a member of a church headed up by a false teacher, that’s definitely a red flag.

Below you’ll find some helpful additional resources relating to specific songs, artists, and the CCM industry. I’d also like to solicit the help of you discerning listeners of CCM:

Are there CCM songs or artists you would recommend avoiding due to biblically demonstrable sin or false doctrine? Please comment below with the exact name of the artist/song, the reason to avoid said artist/song, and a link(s) providing lyrics and/or objective support for your reason.
Unsubstantiated accusations will not be published.
Are there doctrinally sound artists you would recommend? Please comment with the name of the artist (and preferably a link to his/her web site) below.

1From my article The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

Additional Resources

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

The Discernment in Music Archive at Faithful Stewardship

Sound in Worship by Justin Rea

Christian Music Review from Reformed Fellowship Church

Worship Song Ratings by Sandy Simpson

What’s So Bad About Christian Radio by Gabe Hughes

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs: Putting Popular Church Music to the Test by Gabe Hughes

In Response to Putting Popular Church Music to the Test by Gabe Hughes

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (vol. 2) by Gabe Hughes

Once Again, Critiquing the Most Popular Praise and Worship Songs by Gabe Hughes

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

Basic Training: Orientation


It’s an honor for me to be able to say that my family has a love of country and of military service. My dad served in the Army, as did his dad. My husband served in the Air Force. Our oldest is currently serving in the Air Force, and his younger brother is currently serving in the Navy. Numerous members of my extended family have served or are serving in every branch of the military.

If you’re close to someone in the military, maybe you’ve heard him tell heart-wrenching or horrifying tales of combat. But often, the more humorous stories are the ones that transpire prior to battle- while greenhorns are being transformed into soldiers, AKA: boot camp.

At boot camp, recruits undergo rigorous physical training, but they also learn the most basic of military customs, procedures, and protocol: how to stand in formation, how and whom to salute, how to march, how to properly wear their uniforms, and so on. Sometimes they goof these things up, and their drill sergeants…well…let’s just say their drill sergeants correct them in such a memorable way that the recruit won’t goof it up next time.

The military doesn’t expect civilians to know military procedure, which is why basic training exists. But they certainly expect seasoned soldiers, sailors, and airmen to know the fundamentals as well as they know how to breathe. We might chuckle at the story of a rookie confusing “attention” with “at ease,” but a lieutenant? A captain? We’d wonder what was wrong with him and why he hadn’t been properly trained.

Now, ladies, you and I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. We may never fly o’er the enemy, but we’re in the Lord’s army! Yes, sir! (A little VBS humor there for all you oldsters like me.) If God has been our C.O. for a while, we should know the basics of Christianity and the Bible.

But, sadly, I’m discovering more and more Christian soldiers who are clueless about some of the some of the most fundamental tenets of our faith. Not because they’re dumb. Not because they’re rebellious. Not because they don’t sincerely love the Lord. But simply because they’ve never had a drill sergeant who properly instructed them in these things.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re a Christian who has spent most of her life in a church that was heavy on comfort and encouragement and light on doctrine. Maybe you’re a baby Christian who’s never darkened the doorstep of a church. Maybe you’ve been in a good church all your life and were out sick the day a particular subject was taught. We’ve all missed something along the way. Nobody has “arrived” yet. We’re all still learning, and we’re all in this together.

That’s why I’m starting a new blog series today that I’m calling Basic Training, and it’s for everybody, whether you’ve been saved for five minutes or fifty years. We’re going to cover several of the practical basics of church, the Bible, and Christian living. Things like…

  • Repeating a prayer doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian.
  • Christians are to join, and faithfully attend and serve, a doctrinally sound local church.
  • While Christians are not under the Old Testament law of the tithe, we are to generously, regularly, and cheerfully give offerings to our local church.
  • Homosexuals have to repent of their sin in order to be saved, just like everybody else.
  • Baptism is important and isn’t optional for a believer (not to become a believer).
  • Ditto the Lord’s Supper.
  • Being “led” by the Holy Spirit and studying and obeying the Scriptures He authored are not two separate and unrelated things.
  • Scripture prohibits women from preaching to, teaching Scripture to, and holding authority over men in the gathered body of believers.
  • Just because Jesus didn’t address a particular topic during His earthly ministry doesn’t mean we can do what we want to about it.
  • The Bible, not our own feelings or opinions, is to govern what we believe and what we do.
  • Cohabitation and sexual activity prior to or outside of wedlock are sins.

I probably won’t address every single one of those topics, and there are others I will address that aren’t included in the list above, but you get the idea: basic things you would expect someone who’s been a Christian for years to know and are surprised to find out she doesn’t.

Here’s where I need your help. As you can see, I’ve got a good list of topics started, but I don’t want to leave out something that’s important to a lot of people just because I didn’t think of it. What are some things you as a new believer, or someone who’s new to sound doctrine, need to know? If you’re older in the faith, what are some basic biblical teachings or issues you’re surprised to find other believers just aren’t aware of or knowledgeable about? Comment below and let me know. Let’s help each other out!


The Ten (10 Commandments Bible Study)

The Ten: Lesson 9


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

Exodus 20:14

“You shall not commit adultery.

Genesis 2:24-25

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Matthew 19:4-6

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Hebrews 13:4

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Ezekiel 23:37

For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me.

Hosea 1:2

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”

James 4:4

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Matthew 5:27-30

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 15-19

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. What does the phrase “commit adultery” mean? What, specifically, does the seventh Commandment prohibit? Exodus 20:14 prohibits one certain sexual sin but doesn’t mention others. Does this mean other sexual sins such as fornication, bestiality, or homosexuality are allowable? Why or why not? What does this teach us about understanding an isolated Bible verse in light of the totality of Scripture?

2. Continuing to remember that the context of the Ten Commandments is God establishing Israel as a nation and setting her apart as His own special people, why would God give Israel the command not to commit adultery? Since God established Israel as a tribal society (things like land inheritance, leadership, and the pedigree of the Messiah were tied to tribe) how would adultery and resulting illegitimate children have impacted the structure of Israelite law, culture, and society? How would a culture of faithfulness to one’s spouse have differentiated Israel from the surrounding pagan nations? How would purity in marriage have been a reflection of God’s purity to the pagan nations?

3. How would you restate the “thou shalt not” of the seventh Commandment as a positive (“Thou shalt _______.)? What are some practical things we can do to guard ourselves and our marriages against adultery? What are some ways the church can help couples, and singles, prevent adultery?

4. Examine the Genesis, Matthew 19, and Hebrews passages. At what point in history did God first emphasize faithfulness in marriage? What did Jesus and the author of Hebrews have to say about keeping marriage pure?

5. What is adultery a metaphor for in the Old Testament according to the Ezekiel and Hosea verses? Who is represented by the husband? The adulterous wife? How is idolatry a form of spiritual adultery? Ephesians 5:22-33 shows us that marriage is a picture Christ’s (the bridegroom) relationship to the church (the bride). According to James 4:4, how might the church (or an individual Christian) commit adultery against Christ?

6. In the Matthew 5 passage, how does Jesus go beyond the mere prohibition of external behavior and zero in on the heart? Why does Jesus focus on the attitude of our heart above external behavior? What do verses 29-30 teach us about taking practical steps to remove things from our lives that tempt us to sin?

7. How is the “lustful intent” Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5:28 at the root of all of the sexual sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9? How is lust a form of coveting and sexual immorality a form of stealing? How is sexual immorality a sin against your own body, while other sins are outside of your body? (18) What is the good news of verse 11? Take a moment to pray and thank God for washing you clean from your sin. How are verses 19-20 a follow up to verse 11? Why, according to 19-20, should we flee sexual immorality (18) and live lives of purity?


Married or single, we all need to glorify God in our bodies and be on our guard against lust, the root of all sexual sin.

This week, pray and ask God to help you identify:

1. Any ways or situations in which you’re tempted to lust. Are there any “eyes” you need to gouge out or “hands” you need to cut off? For example- romance novels you need to get rid of? Men you need to avoid spending time with? Repent of past sin and thank God for His forgiveness.

2. Ways you can proactively glorify God in your body. Maybe you need to dress more modestly or speak more words of encouragement. How can you actively bring God glory by the way you use your body?


And the Winner Is…


Today, it’s my honor be a recipient of the fifth annual Titus 2:1 Award for a Doctrinally Sound Blog from fellow blogger Ryan Smith over at One Christian Dad. Big hugs and thank yous to Ryan and his (anonymous) reader who nominated me. Be sure to click on over and check out the other two ladies who won: Rebekah Womble of Wise in His Eyes and Sabrina Jaspers of My 3 Princes. Congratulations, ladies!

Ryan has asked the winners to answer a few questions in our “acceptance speeches”…

If you could have dinner with any historical Christian figure, who would it be and why?

John KnoxHe’s one of my heroes in the faith because of his passion for the people of Scotland to know Christ, to read the Bible for themselves, and for false doctrine to be eradicated from the church.

What one burning question would you ask?

John, would you please record a teaching – to be required viewing by every pastor in America – on the urgency and imperativeness of pastors boldly and faithfully fulfilling all three parts of Titus 1:9?

Where and what would you eat?

I’d invite John over to my house for a crawfish boil. After a lifetime of eating Scottish food, he deserves the finest cuisine this side of Heaven.

What was the last Bible verse you read?

Well, technically, Titus 1:9, but before that, Ezekiel 35:15. I’m teaching the book of Ezekiel to my children right now, and today we covered chapter 35.

Pay it forward- who would you nominate for the Titus 2:1 Award?

Definitely my friends Amy Spreeman and Marsha West over at Berean ResearchAnything you read on my blog relating to false teachers or discernment, they probably had a hand in at some point along the way. It is the finest and most godly discernment blog out there. If anybody deserves an award, it’s Amy and Marsha.

Thanks again, Ryan. I guess now I can say
I have an award-winning blog!