Guest Posts

Guest Post: Mackerels, Schmoley, and the Spirit of God

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.

Mackerels, Schmoley, and the Spirit of God

by Michael Coughlin

What do mackerels, “schmoley,” and the Spirit of God have in common? If you listen to people in normal conversation, apparently all these things are holy.

Did you see something that surprised you, but you’re a Christian so you don’t want to blaspheme God? Just exclaim, “Holy mackerel!” Maybe you don’t even know what to say, so just make up a word and mutter, “holy schmoley!”

And when you want to refer to the third person of our thrice holy God? Well, just use the same terminology and call Him the Holy Spirit.

Maybe you are sensitive to the word holy, so when you are surprised you let people know by saying, “Oh my goodness!” That’s way better than actual blasphemy or cursing or especially that eff word the heathen use, right? Ah, but goodness is one of God’s attributes, and the concept of goodness is synonymous with who God is, so when we say “oh my goodness” are we really just saying the dreaded and deftly avoided “Oh my God” anyway? What about “oh my word?” are we saying something new or different when we replace God’s name with “word?” Ponder that…

Please, bear with me! My goal isn’t some sort of legalistic “here are the words that are OK and here are the words that are not” post. But I want you to consider a few things and let God’s Word and common sense guide you toward repentance if necessary in your life.

God is holy. Anything God sets apart is holy. NOTHING ELSE IS HOLY. When we use the word holy as an adjective before anything God hasn’t set apart, are we diminishing the concept of holiness at all? Even if it’s just a little, that’s a problem!

What about when you replace God’s name with the word “gosh,” or “goodness” or “golly?”

At some point, Christian, are you sure that you are saying something different in your heart that God sees than the careless language of the pagan? We bemoan the outward sins of a filthy culture while committing the same sins to lesser degrees often in our hearts and the privacy of our homes, our speech included!

Paul said in Ephesians 4:29:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Not only is corrupting talk forbidden, but we are obligated to ONLY have such as is good for edification come out of our mouths. It isn’t enough to avoid the dirty words; we are to express ourselves with clean talk which is meaningful or helpful or build up.

Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

How we speak is a direct fruit of our heart. That is, your speech indicates your heart toward God. So, dear Christian, do you speak carelessly? Why do you affix the term holy before that which is not holy?

And why are we so shocked all of the time? Seriously, how often are you really so shocked that you have to say “oh my whatever?” Is it possible that we are not meditating on the greatness and majesty of God enough and the world is too easily awe-inspiring?

Christians, our words mean things, even the ones we utter without the intention of actually communicating what they mean. James warns us that taming the tongue is a vital Christian virtue, and I think that goes along with what Paul said in Ephesians and what our Lord Jesus said above.

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. James 3:8-9

Brother or sister, part of making your calling and election sure is seeking Christ through His Word and submitting to the Holy Spirit to sanctify you that you may practice the virtue of self-control over your tongue. I submit to you that those who cannot tame the tongue reveal themselves to not truly be one of his children. If you don’t believe that, read Matthew 12, Ephesians 4 and James 3 in their full context and you will see that a contrast is being made between the children of darkness and those who tame the tongue. Extra credit if you can find self-control anywhere listed in Galatians 5.

So join me and let’s see if together we can express ourselves more like our perfect Lord to whom we desire to be conformed, who never wastes a word, nor does he fail to use the best ones when words are required.

For further reading, here is an old blog post which supports the same ideas presented herein.

Michael Coughlin is a street evangelist from Ohio. He and his wife, Erin have 5 children. You can find him on Twitter, at his blog, or on Sermon Audio.

Church, Throwback Thursday, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Rolling Out the Welcome Wagon

Originally published August 25, 2010

The LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. I Kings 9:3

As Golden Girl Sophia would say, “Picture it:”

After church one Sunday, a friend says, “Why don’t you come over to my house tomorrow night for dinner?”

So, the appropriate time comes on Monday evening, and you drive over to her house. The door is standing open because she is expecting you, and you’re familiar enough with each other that you feel comfortable just walking on in.

As you’re walking in, you see your friend standing there, and you say to her, “I invite you into this house! You are welcome here!”

Anything seem a little off about that?

Well, of course that seems strange. It’s her house.

But that’s what is taking place in churches all over America every Sunday morning. I saw it in a televised local church service last week. The worship leader stood up to lead the first song and said, “God we welcome you into this place!” I’ve heard others say things like, “Lord, we invite you into this house this morning!” We sing songs like Holy Spirit, Thou art Welcome and Lord, we Invite You.

‘Scuse me? Isn’t the church God’s house?

Of course, it isn’t God’s house in the same way the temple was God’s house, in that there isn’t a holy of holies where the actual presence of God resides. On the other hand, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s only a building, like the post office or a doughnut shop.

At some point, way back when, or maybe even recently, a body of Believers got together and asked God to give them a place where they could worship Him. God saw fit to answer that prayer. He provided the land, the permits, and every brick, nail, and piece of sheetrock. He allowed His name to be placed there when we decided to call it “Grace Fellowship”, “St. Luke’s”, or “First Baptist”. He protects that building and allows it to stand as a testimony to the community: God, and God’s people, can be found here.

It’s not your church. It’s not my church. It’s God’s church. And it exists for His glory.

But somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that. Somewhere along the way, we gave God an eviction notice and became squatters on His property. How arrogant have we become that we strut into church as though we own the place, and dare to invite Him, to welcome Him into His own house as though He were a guest? How dare we?

Maybe it’s partly because we no longer have a holy of holies that we don’t see God’s house as sacred. “Ah,” you may say, “but that’s Old Testament thinking. Now we know that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)”


When it’s my church, my comfort, my pew, my ministry that nobody else better touch, my style of music, my opinion about how long the sermon should be, my feelings that got hurt, my idea of how things should operate, what I got out of the service, are we really gathering in His name?

Welcome, Lord. Are You sure You want to come in?

Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of “Wait and See”

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 Review of Wait and See by Wendy Pope

by Kirstin


The Author

Wendy Pope writes that she was minding her business in the early 2000s when God called her to teach the Bible and be active in women’s ministry. She then attended a She Speaks conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and God confirmed her calling in “ways only God could arrange.”

For weeks after the She Speaks conference, Pope “lived and breathed nothing but bio sheets, messages, headshots, and marketing.” Her related expenses went over her family’s budget. But there was no demand for her as a speaker, and she ended up working for 12 years at the offices of Proverbs 31 Ministries (“God moved me to an office chair in a gray cubicle . . .). She served in her church and honed her writing skills. Today she is on the team of speakers at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans

The publisher’s overview of Wait and See states, “Every woman struggles with times of waiting – for a spouse, a child, a job. In Wait and See, Wendy Pope guides readers to focus on the person of their faith rather than the object of their wait. Pope draws on the story of King David, who was anointed king nearly twenty years before he took his throne.”

Pope seems to have written this book for the same audience of “Jesus girls” that has made Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries a popular author and speaker. Her writing style is informal and confidential, and the book is sprinkled with statements like these: “This is stinkin’ thinkin’, and it has got to go!” and, “Instead of the depressing turning dramatic, she was determined to find laughter in the yuck, and, “Whoa! I just blew my own mind.”

The book includes stories of seasons of waiting in the lives of ordinary Christians, including Pope and her family, and questions for reflection. Each chapter concludes with a “Digging Deeper with David” section based on a Davidic psalm. Pope writes, “David is an excellent example of how to prepare while we wait for what God has planned for our lives.”

Proverbs 31 Ministries offered an online Bible study based on the book in 2016. Dozens of readers have posted five-star reviews of Wait and See on Amazon and Goodreads. The book is encouraging, and its “bloom where you’re planted” message is good.

For me, however, the Bible exposition in Wait and See was unhelpful. Pope quotes from nine Bible translations, including The Message. Like TerKeurst and Beth Moore, she sometimes explains a verse by choosing a particular word in it, stating the word in the original language, and then stating its dictionary definition. In one instance, she simply writes, “Fret is the Hebrew word charah.” So what?

In addition, Pope seems to expect believers to hear from God apart from the Bible. Throughout Wait and See, she refers to the Holy Spirit calling, confirming, leading, nudging, prompting, tugging on the heart, and whispering in a still, small voice in the present day. She writes that young David “spent his days learning to recognize and obey God’s voice, two traits that would serve him greatly as king.” But where does the Bible state or even imply that David had to learn to recognize God’s voice? At the same time, Pope seems to be saying that personal revelation from God cannot be misunderstood. “I must not have heard God correctly” is “Misconception #1,” she writes.

Unfortunately, one of my main takeaways from Wait and See was that an unknown number of women are desperate to become famous Christian speakers and authors, the next Beth Moore or Lysa TerKeurst. “I believed saying yes to God would put me center stage in an arena filled with thousands of women who had just read my bestseller,” Pope writes.

As I sat in my gray cubicle, a severe case of the mines” attacked my heart. Near the same time, many of my friends in ministry enjoyed success. Publishing opportunities, consistent speaking engagements, and individual ministries seemed to fall into their laps, but not mine. I pasted on a halfhearted smile when they shared about their ministry growth, but inwardly I pouted and argued with God. What about me? I’ve been speaking longer than she has. When will my ministry grow? Why can’t my book be published?

That was then. “Neither center stage nor a bestseller matters to me any longer,” Pope assures us. But I wonder who these ministries really are for.

Final note: Seasons of Waiting by Betsy Childs Howard, who works with The Gospel Coalition, appears to be a better and deeper book on this topic, based on my reading of an excerpt available online and Aimee Byrd’s review.

Additional Resource:

Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

Kirstin lives in Southern California and works in the legal field. She has participated in women’s Bible studies for 20 years. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10 ESV


The Mailbag: Potpourri (Small groups, Furtick, Slander…)


Today’s edition of The Mailbag is a tad different in format. Usually, I answer one reader’s question in a long form article. Today, I’m addressing various questions from several readers in a “short answer” format.

Please note: Due to the recent change in my comments/e-mail/messages policy, I’m not responding individually to most e-mails and messages. Several of these questions could have been answered instantaneously if the search bar had been utilized.

I wanted to ask if you could suggest a study for mums with young children, all of whom need lots of support and encouragement, as well as one who is struggling with her faith at the moment.

While there may be a good, doctrinally sound study out there for moms of small children, I’m not personally familiar with any. Still, I would recommend simply choosing a book of the Bible and studying it from beginning to end. The best and most biblical support and encouragement comes right from Scripture. See my article: You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible.

For someone struggling with her faith, the book of 1 John is excellent. If you don’t feel equipped to teach a book of the Bible, get some training so you can. Untrained, undiscerning teachers are a major way false doctrine creeps into the church. See: McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word.

What are your thoughts on: Rebecca Manly Pippert, Revelation Wellness, Liz Curtis Higgs, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Stephen Ministry, Jan Markell’s Olive Tree Ministries, Johanna Michaelsen, and Angie Smith?

Rebecca Manly Pippert, Revelation Wellness, and Stephen Ministry: I’m afraid I’ve never heard of them.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, Jan Markell, Johanna Michaelsen, and Angie Smith: I’ve heard the names in passing, but I don’t really know anything about any of them.

Liz Curtis Higgs: I’ve never read any of her stuff or heard her speak, but I know that, until it disbanded this year, she was a featured speaker for Women of Faith, alongside false teachers such as Sheila Walsh, Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Jakes Roberts (daughter of T.D. Jakes), and musician Nichole Nordeman (pro-homosexuality). Partnering with false teachers, even if your own doctrine is sound (and I don’t know whether or not Higgs’ is), is prohibited by Scripture, so for that reason alone, I would not recommend her.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn: I read most of this book, but it was probably ten years ago or more. I don’t remember any specifics from the book, nor was there any egregious false doctrine that sticks out in my memory. All I remember is that I quit reading it because it was way too long and because a lot of it was – while based on Scripture – speculation and extrapolation as to what Heaven would be like. Randy Alcorn is not someone I currently keep up with very closely. Although I have recommended him as a fiction author: The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations, I don’t often read his blog or other non-fiction work. From the little non-fiction of his that I have read, my impression of him is that he is generally doctrinally sound, but may not thoroughly vet the people he quotes and appears with.

For more information on checking out various teachers and ministries, see my article: Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

How can I find a solid church and what are your feelings regarding small groups?

For recommendations on finding a solid church, see The Mailbag: How Can I Find a Good Church?

I’m strongly in favor of small group Bible studies and Sunday School classes as a supplement to sound preaching from the pulpit, if the small group teacher is able to teach (availability and willingness do not equal ability to teach) and has been trained in good hermeneutics, and if he or she is teaching the Bible. For more, read my article McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word.

Do you have an opinion of Steven Furtick?

I have many opinions of Steven Furtick (“pastor” of Elevation “Church” in Charlotte, NC), none of them good. He mercilessly twists God’s word, he yokes with false teachers (including T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine and others), and he allows women to preach from his pulpit (Including Lysa TerKeurst. Furtick is her pastor, which is one of the reasons I warn against her.) Additionally, Furtick has been immersed in Word of Faith false doctrine for years, and is now venturing into New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine. For more information, see Fighting for the Faith, Berean Research, Berean Examiner, and Apprising. I’ve also seen a number of YouTube videos from various sources explaining the doctrinal problems and scandals with Furtick (use the YouTube search bar).

The Bible says that women should learn in submission and not instruct men, however, The Great Commission is written to believers (which includes women). Therefore, if that is my aim to fulfill the Great Commission, in turn fulfilling God’s will, how am I sinning?

You’re not. Preaching to men, instructing men in the Scriptures, and holding authority over men in the church is not the same thing as evangelism and I have never claimed that it is.

I think a better grasp of the role of women in the church would be helpful for you. I’d recommend reading Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit as well as the remaining articles in my Rock Your Role series. For more on women evangelizing men, read #11 in my article Rock Your Role FAQs.

I am wondering if you have ever done a post or topic on homeschooling? I have been praying for your conference.

I do home school, but I’m afraid I haven’t written anything on it. My friend Rachel over at Danielthree18 sometimes writes about home schooling, as does Gospel Centered Mom. These ladies could probably better point you in the right direction for doctrinally sound home schooling blogs than I can. It’s just not something I read much about or have an interest in writing about.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I am leaving Thursday to speak at a Christian women’s retreat in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, addressing the topic of suffering.

Readers, if your church would be interested in having me come speak at a women’s event, please click on the “Contact…” tab at the top of this page.

What is the criteria for a woman in regards to not teaching a man?…I particularly like The Voice translation for this in 1 Timothy 2:12…I think the ‘women teaching’ Scripture was more of a custom back in the day as is this Scripture about men and long hair.

I would recommend reading all of the articles in my Rock Your Role series, starting with Jill in the Pulpit. My article  A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? will help answer your questions regarding men and long hair (since the two issues are in the same passage), particularly some of the articles in the “Additional Resources” section (I would start with the WWUTT video near the end of that section). Also, we always need to keep in mind that God is the author of these Scriptures, not Paul. These are not Paul’s ideas and preferences, they’re God’s.

I would strongly recommend you find a reliable translation of the Bible rather than using The Voice paraphrase, which had several false teachers and female “pastors” as contributors. More info. at The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

Lysa TerKeurst (or Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, or anybody else I’ve warned against, I get this one a lot) should sue you for slander for the judgmental things you’ve said about her!

So you’ve obviously read my article about Lysa TerKeurst. Did you happen to see and read the big, bold notice at the top of that article (and every other discernment article I’ve written) which says:

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

Your objection is answered in detail in #5 of this article. However, I’d like to add a few things:

1. There’s not a single teacher I’ve ever mentioned on this site that could sue me for slander. Not one. Why? Because slander is about false and defamatory speech. What you’re talking about is libel, which deals with false and defamatory writing. Get a dictionary and use your words.

2. In order to sue someone for libel, my understanding (maybe a reader who’s an actual lawyer could help out here) is that you have to prove that a) your reputation has been damaged (Anybody see people “Leaving Lysa” in droves? I don’t. Her “ministry” is, unfortunately, continuing to grow as far as I can tell.) b) that the allegations are untrue (The allegations I’ve made aren’t untrue. I’ve taken Lysa’s own words and actions – from videos of her speaking, and from texts of her writing – and compared them with Scripture. If she’s able to demonstrate – from Scripture – that what I’ve said is untrue, she won’t have to sue me for anything because I’ll gladly repent and print a retraction. But, judging from the way she generally handles Scripture, she’s not going to be able to do that.) and c) that the writer acted with malice. (I’ve made very clear that my desire is for Lysa – and the others – to repent and teach sound doctrine so I can point women to them as solid resources. How could being for Lysa in this way, and wanting to help her ministry, be construed as malicious?)

3. If Lysa (or any of the others) did try to sue me for libel, she would only be further proving my point about her disobedience to Scripture, because Scripture instructs Christians not to sue each other. That’s not going to do a lot for her credibility in court.

Thanks for playing.

Why haven’t you answered my e-mail/social media message or posted my blog comment?

See: New E-Mail, Messages, and Blog Comments Policy

From the “Welcome” tab: As of March 2017, I will not be responding to (and often, not publishing) blog comments which require more than five minutes of my time to answer. While I love hearing from readers, it is simply taking too much time away from my family to engage in long, in depth, or teaching conversations in the comments section of my articles.

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.


What’s Up This Week…

I’m off to lovely Cape Cod, Massachusetts, later this week to speak at a women’s retreat over the weekend. I’ll be spending the next several days getting ready, so the blog schedule will be a little different this week.

Monday– The Mailbag will be posted as usual. (Next Monday, April 3, is anybody’s guess, but I’ll do my best to have a new Mailbag up.)

Tuesday and Friday– I’ve got a couple of great guest posts for you. You won’t want to miss them!

Wednesday– No new lesson in our Ruth study, I’m afraid. Use this week to catch up or review. Wednesday’s post will be material on Ruth that you can use as a supplement to our regular study.

Thursday– Throwback Thursday will be coming your way as usual.

I’d greatly appreciate your prayers as I speak at the conference. If your church would like to have me come speak at a women’s event, click the “Contact…” tab at the top of this page.

Have a wonderful week in the Lord!