Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Nashville, Arkansas, Women’s Conference

It was such a joy to be with the ladies in the Nashville, Arkansas area again at Maranatha Baptist Church’s 2021 women’s conference.

When I first saw this sign, there was a beautiful herd of cows behind it, but by the time I had a chance to take pictures, they had moooved on to greener pastures!

Last year at MBC’s conference, I spoke on biblical womanhood. This year, we tackled the topic of discernment in session one: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways. Modesty seems to be a current kerfuffle in evangelicalism, so dressing our bodies while addressing our hearts was the order of business for session two. Next was a delicious chicken salad lunch (with some out of this world cookies for dessert!). And, wow, did these ladies have some smart and insightful questions in our final Q&A session!

If you like, you can listen to the audio from these teaching sessions at MBC’s Sermon Audio page as soon as they’re posted. (The modesty session was a condensed version of the three part podcast series on modesty Amy and I recorded earlier this year on A Word Fitly Spoken.)

Hostess gifts

One of the things traveling for speaking engagements has taught me is a deeper appreciation and longing for graciousness, generosity, and hospitality, which all seem to flow so naturally from the many pastors and women’s ministry directors I’ve worked with. Those are not things at which I feel I excel, but I aspire for God to grow me in those areas. My hosts, Margaret and Tom, as well as Pastor Bruce, and everyone at MBC were so kind and treated me like a queen.

Benjamin keeping us on the road.

And last, but not least, see this guy? This is my second to youngest (19) son Benjamin. Some of you may have heard me mention on the podcast (A Word Fitly Spoken), that Benjamin is our producer, which he does out of the goodness of his heart and on top of a nearly full time job, plus church responsibilities and activities. This young man insisted on taking off work to spend two full days driving me to and from the conference and serving as my handler during the trip. I didn’t have to lift a finger for anything, and had everything I needed, thanks to him. I hope I’m not embarrassing him, but I’m just so grateful to God for blessing us with such a fine, godly young man for a son.

I had an awesome trip to Arkansas, and it was such an honor to teach the lovely ladies of Nashville. Many thanks to Margaret, Tom, Pastor Bruce, and all the hard-working men and women of Maranatha Baptist Church for your sweet hospitality and for putting on such a wonderful conference. I highly recommend this warm and welcoming church to anyone in southwest Arkansas who is looking for a doctrinally sound body of Believers to join.


If your church or organization 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.


Photo Credits

Photos of Michelle speaking by Benjamin Lesley.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 11

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

Read Judges 12:8-13:25

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read 12:8-15. Notice again (as we saw in lesson 4, link above) the copious details God gives us about some judges, like we’re about to see with Samson, and the sparse details He gives us about other judges, like Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Why do you think there’s such a discrepancy? Is this an indicator that some judges were more important or more faithful than others? Why not? Think about the things you do to serve the Lord. Do you do them for recognition and accolades, or simply because you love Him?

3. Read 13:1-7. How does verse 1 set the scene for the story of Samson? What was Manoah’s wife’s name? Why doesn’t the Bible tell us?

Who are some other women in the Bible you can think of who were barren, or functionally barren, and then conceived miraculously? How do all of these women’s miraculous conceptions serve as a type and shadow of Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus? Particularly compare “Mrs. Manoah’s” conception story to Mary’s. What similarities do you see? What differences?

Did any of the other women who conceived miraculously, including Mary, receive the same instructions Mrs. Manoah did in verses 4-5? What is a Nazirite? What were the requirements of a Nazirite vow? (Hint: check your cross references on verse 5, then click here). Why do you suppose God set Samson apart as a Nazirite, but none of the other judges?

What does God mean in verse 5, that Samson shall “begin” to save his people? Think about the judges we’ve already studied, and keep this in mind as we continue to study Judges. Are any other judges described as beginning to save their people? Compare this statement about Samson to the angel’s statement about Jesus in Matthew 1:21. How does Samson’s mission point ahead to Jesus’ mission?

What was the first thing Mrs. Manoah did after the angel ascended? Why?

4. Read 13:8-14. Mrs. Manoah had an unbelievable story to tell. Did Manoah believe his wife? (8, 11) Did Manoah believe God? (8, 12) Compare Manoah’s response to the news that his barren wife would have a son to Zechariah’s response to the news that his barren wife would have a son. Why did Zechariah bear an even greater responsibility than Manoah to believe the Lord about this?

5. Read 13:15-20. Is it possible this appearance of the “angel of the Lord” (16) was a Christophany? Give specific evidence from this chapter and its cross references to support your answer.

Why wouldn’t the angel tell Manoah his name? (18 – Check your cross references. You may also need to do a little more digging on the significance of names and greetings in Old Testament culture.) Is there a connection between “wonderful” in verse 18 and “wonders” in 19?

What is the significance of Manoah and his wife falling “on their faces to the ground”? (20)

6. Read 13:21-25. Why did Manoah think he and his wife would die? (22) Explain how Mrs. Manoah’s explanation (23) was a good example of a wife giving wise, godly counsel to her husband. Explain Manoah’s wisdom in listening to her here and throughout today’s passage. How did Mrs. Manoah exemplify being a helper fit for her husband? How was she, as Proverbs mentions, a good thing, the crown of her husband, prudent, and more precious than jewels?

7. Carefully examine each action of Manoah and of Mrs. Manoah, as well as their words in 13:6-24. What evidence do you see that Mrs. Manoah was a godly wife, and that she submitted to her husband? What evidence do you see that Manoah was a godly husband who loved his wife? How can you tell they desired to be parents who honored and obeyed God in their parenting?

8. What does today’s passage teach us about the nature and character of God?


Homework

  • Back in Judges 10, we saw that the judge Jair had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys, and in today’s passage, 12:14 tells us Abdon had 70 sons and grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys. This might strike us as a weird little factoid to include about these judges, but is there any significance to it? What’s up with these donkeys? Grab a good commentary, study Bible, or internet search engine, and see what you can find out. Share your findings in the comments if you like.
  • What lessons did you learn from Manoah and his wife about having a godly marriage? How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own marriage?

Suggested Memory Verse

Church

Throwback Tuesday ~ Revive Us Again

I’m flip-flopping the blog schedule a tad this week.
Enjoy this week’s Throwback Thursday – on Tuesday!

Originally published August 12, 2009

Thirty three per cent of clergy and thirty six per cent of laymen
report having visited a sexually explicit web site.
Christianity Today survey, August 2000

The divorce rate of born-again Christians (32%)
is higher than that of atheists and agnostics (30%).
Barna Research Group 20081

Twenty per cent of women who have abortions
are born-again or Evangelical Christians.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1996

We rarely find substantial differences between
the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians.
George Barna, Founder, Barna Research Group

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless,
how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out
and trampled under foot by men.
Jesus, Matthew 5:13

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, my parents took my sister and me to visit some of our elder relatives. For the evening meal, the lady of the house set a beautiful, formal table, complete with lovely crystal salt cellars at each place.

Having attended approximately zero formal dinners in my decade-long, casual dining existence, I had never seen a salt cellar. Since it happened to be sitting next to my goblet of unsweetened iced tea, I presumed it was my own personal sugar bowl.

I was puzzled as to why the spoon was so tiny, but forged ahead in an attempt to sweeten my tea with spoonful after spoonful…of salt. After one swig, I realized my mistake, but to maintain decorum, I did my best to eat my meal while taking an occasional small sip of the tea-flavored salt water. It was a long dinner.

I have never been so thirsty for a fresh drink of water before—or since—that moment.

We, the body of Christ, are supposed to be salt. Look around. How are we doing? By and large, instead of the church making the world thirsty for the Living Water, we have become so worldly ourselves that we are in danger of losing our savor altogether.

The Western church, the American church, the local church, maybe even your church—is in desperate need of revival. Not a revival meeting. Revival.

Revival is not a special event to win the lost. It is a time when God’s people, both individually and corporately, humble themselves, cry out to God in repentance and return to a fresh, empowered, obedient love relationship with Him.

Aren’t you tired of seeing statistics like the ones at the beginning of this article? Tired of the church having so little impact on a lost and dying world? Tired of simply going through the motions in your spiritual life and at church? Have you ever, as I have, taken a step back, looked at your walk and your worship, and said, “There’s got to be more to the Christian life than this”?

There is more. Much more. God desires that we have a full, exciting, vibrant, dynamic relationship with Him. But it’s going to cost us. It will cost our pride, our time, our repentance, our obedience, and our priority. It will require that we become dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the status quo of complacency.

I think we’re up for the challenge.

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
and revive me in Your ways.
Psalm 119:37


 

1Take these statistics with a “grain of salt”. :0) Not everyone who claims to be a “born-again Christian” in a poll actually is one, the divorce stat has subsequently been proved false, etc. The idea is that the world has infiltrated the church, and the church has embraced the world, and therefore, the behavior of way too many professing Christians is worldly.

Holidays (Other)

The Mailbag: Resources for Pastor Appreciation Month

Originally published September 30, 2019

 

Do you have any suggestions for things my church can do for our pastors during Pastor Appreciation Month?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month (PAM). It always sneaks up on me, so big thank yous to the reader who recently wrote in with a question related to PAM and jogged my terrible memory. We don’t want to forget our wonderful pastors!

Normally, I rerun the articles below every year on separate days near the end of September, but because I didn’t get it in gear this year, you’re getting all of them at once. Sorry about that. But at least you have the whole month of October to implement any of these ideas that would be a fit for your pastors and your church, and most of them require very little planning time.

(2021 Note: Surprisingly, I was actually on top of it this year. These articles ran last week, but in case you missed them… There’s also some additional information that follows the articles.)

Top 10 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastors During Pastor Appreciation Month

I’m so glad somebody thought up the idea of Pastor Appreciation Month and made it a thing. If you’ve never been a pastor (or been married to one), it’s difficult to adequately convey just how simultaneously challenging, joyful, devastating, frustrating, and fulfilling it can be. If you have a good pastor, who rightly divides God’s Word and is a man of godly character, you are very blessed. Here are ten ways you can show your pastors your gratitude, appreciation, and encouragement…

A Word Fitly Spoken: 11 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

Are you thankful for your pastor and a church that rightly handles God’s word? Are you telling anybody you’re thankful? Are you telling your pastor? Here are eleven ways you can encourage your pastor…

7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music

The pastor isn’t the only person on your church’s staff who needs your support. So does your minister of music. And, having been married to one for over twenty years, I can tell you there aren’t many articles out there letting you know how church members can encourage their ministers of music. Ready to show some love? Here are seven ways you can be an encouragement to your minister of music…

Is it OK if I print out and copy one (or more) of these articles?

Yes! You are always welcome to print out and make as many copies as you like of any article, Bible study, etc., you find here at the blog. (My article, Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor might make a nice bulletin insert during PAM.) All I ask is that you not change the content of any article, and that you stick my name (Michelle Lesley) and web address (MichelleLesley.com) on there somewhere. I’ve explained the reasons for this as well as tips for printing articles here (3rd section).

Just a few more points about PAM:

All three of these articles make this point, but I want to reiterate it here. If you’re going to do a big hoopla for PAM, please be sure all efforts are coordinated, none of your pastors are left out, and that there isn’t a huge discrepancy in the gifts you present various staff members (e.g. you get the pastor a new car and the minister of music gets a Hallmark card).

My husband was once on staff at a church as minister of music. There were only two other staff members, the pastor and the youth pastor. At the end of worship service one Sunday in October, the congregation as a whole ceremoniously presented the pastor with a gift for PAM. Then some of the youth called the youth pastor up to the front and presented him with a gift for PAM from the youth group and their parents. And nothing was said about, or done for, my husband. It was extremely discouraging to him, not because he didn’t get a gift, but because he felt ignored and unappreciated. Make sure you handle PAM sensitively and appropriately. You don’t want what started out as an act of encouragement to end up discouraging any of your pastors.

If you get your pastor a book or decide to send him to a conference, be sure to vet the author, speakers, and conference organization for sound doctrine first. I would recommend books and materials by any of the men listed at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page. Some super, doctrinally sound conferences you might consider: the G3 ConferenceShepherds’ Conference,Founders Conference, or one of Ligonier’s Conferences(And if you do decide to send him to a conference, make sure he’s actually able to attend before purchasing anything that’s non-refundable.)

Don’t just encourage and appreciate your pastors during the month of October. They need it all year long! If your church can’t afford to do something big and expensive for PAM (or even if it can) make October the kick-off month for a year full of encouragement for your pastors – have church members commit to pray regularly for your pastors from this October to next October (and then have them re-up next year!), make October the dedicated month for church members to sign up to serve your pastors in some way during each of the next 12 months. (Maybe this year various families sign up to bring each of the pastors a meal a month. Next year, maybe it’s monthly yard work or babysitting or house cleaning, etc.)

Let’s be sure to appreciate and encourage our pastors during PAM and all year long!


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.

Holidays (Other)

A Word Fitly Spoken: 11 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and it’s coming up soon!
Show your pastors some appreciation by encouraging them!

Originally published February 23, 2018

I hope you have the blessing of sitting under good, biblical preaching at your church. I do. I’m always so thankful to hear God’s word beautifully preached in my own church, and I’m thankful for the all of the other godly men out there laboring faithfully each week to proclaim the truth of the gospel to the sheep God has entrusted to them.

Are you thankful for your pastor and a church that rightly handles God’s word? Are you telling anybody you’re thankful? Are you telling your pastor?

The ministry is a tough job, and pastors need all the encouragement they can get. Sometimes it’s the little things you say and do that can be a blessing to your pastor and make his job easier and more joyful. Proverbs 25:11 says:

Here are eleven ways you can encourage your pastor (and don’t forget your associate pastor, minister of music, youth pastor, etc.!)

1.

Pray for your pastor

Some specifics you can pray for:

💭 His wife and children

💭 His stress level, and for peace

💭 His finances and provision

💭 His marriage, and that he will be a good father

💭 That God will grow him in his understanding and handling of Scripture

💭 That God will grow him in discernment, and guard him from being influenced by false teachers/doctrine

💭 That God will protect him from temptation and lead him to repentance when he sins

💭 And here are even more ways to pray for your pastor.

Remember to tell your pastor you’re praying for him, and ask him if there’s anything in particular you can pray for him about.

2.
Show Up

First of all, Scripture says you’re supposed to be a faithful, active member of your local church. Second, it’s very discouraging to pastors when church members who are perfectly able to attend faithfully simply choose to let other, non-essential things take precedence.

3.
Be Present

Pay attention, be engaged, and have a pleasant look on your face during the sermon. If you’ve ever stood in front of a group of people, you know how easy it is to tell who’s “with you” and who’s not. And the more “with yous” there are out there, the more encouraging it is.

4.
A Word of Thanks

Just say thank you. Thank you for being my pastor, for being faithful to the Word, for encouraging me, for working so hard, for studying well…

5.
Submit to His Leadership

Take Hebrews 13:17-18 seriously:


Yes, there are abusive pastors out there. Yes, there are pastors who are flagrantly disobedient to Scripture in their leadership. If that’s your pastor, leave that church and find a pastor you can trust (yes, I know it’s hard), and whose leadership you can submit to. Don’t be the constantly complaining, argumentative, nit picky thorn in your pastor’s side.

6.
Don’t Major on the Minors

If you do need to speak to your pastor about something you disagree with him about, whenever possible, try to make sure it’s a biblical issue rather than an issue of preference, and make sure you do it in love and kindness, not in an attacking way.

7.
Wait, Mr. Postman…

Isn’t it nice to open your mail or e-mail and find something besides bills and bad news? Send your pastor a note, card, or e-mail of encouragement.

8.
C is for Cookie (and Calories)

Think before you bake. When I want to send someone a little token of encouragement, my first instinct is always to bake something. But a lot of pastors, like everyone else these days, are dieting, so use wisdom. Maybe a gift card to his favorite store or restaurant, a book by his favorite author, or a service he needs performed would be better. Here are some more ideas if you want to give your pastor a token of appreciation.

9.
A Word Fitly Spoken

Tell your pastor something you learned from the sermon or how God has been growing you through his preaching. Let him know how your Sunday school class is maturing. Tell him about the good progress that’s being made in the committee you serve on or the ministry you serve in.

10.
Perfect Timing

Do not pull your pastor aside right before the service to discuss anything that could wait until later. He needs to be focused on preaching and worship. And don’t detain him for long after the service, either. He’s probably hungry, tired, has to go to the bathroom, and wants to get home to his family. Make an appointment during the week.

11.
Nobody’s Perfect

Remember that your pastor is human. He’s going to sin. He’s going to get things wrong. Don’t assume he knows why you’re upset with him. Don’t hold a grudge. Extend the same grace you would to anyone else, and forgive.

What are some other ways we can encourage our pastors?