Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Teaching co-ed college Sunday School… “Losing it” with attackers… “Tough” vs. “fluff” Bible studies… Why “Bye Begg”?)

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.


I’ve been asked to teach a college/career Sunday School class. It’s couples that are married, some engaged. I would probably be able to co-teach with a man. Should I as a woman not be teaching that class since it has men and not really youth?

It’s really great that you’re giving this some thought and asking that question!

You’re correct – college aged young men are men, even if they are young. You should not be teaching them, your church is wrong for asking you to teach them, and your pastor is wrong for allowing women to teach men in your church. It isn’t just wrong for you, individually because you would be violating Scripture, it’s also wrong because, if you did it, you would be leading these young men to think that it’s OK for women to teach men. You would be teaching them by your actions that it’s OK to ignore or disobey any command of God that’s inconvenient or that we don’t like. (This is one of the reasons I also discourage women from teaching youth/teen boys.)

As far as “co-teaching” goes, it depends on what you and your church mean by that term. What the term “co-teaching” actually means is that you and another teacher(s) take turns teaching the class the Bible lesson. If that’s how you and your church are using that term, then, no, you shouldn’t be co-teaching. It doesn’t matter whether you’re teaching every week or every other week or once a month or whatever. You’re still teaching men the Bible, and that’s still a sin.

However, some churches/Christians will say that, for example, a husband and wife are “co-teaching” a Sunday School class when what they really mean is that the husband is doing all of the actual teaching and the wife is taking care of the administrative duties of the class like making the coffee, taking attendance, organizing fellowships, contacting those who have been absent, etc., but not doing any of the actual teaching. That is absolutely fine, but they need to stop calling it “co-teaching” – a) because it’s not, and b) because it leads others to believe they and their church are sinning when they’re actually not.

I would encourage you to give some thought and study to my Rock Your Role series of articles, starting with Jill in the Pulpit and Rock Your Role FAQs (start with #13), then make an appointment with your pastor to politely and kindly ask him why he’s allowing women to teach men in your church. If he brushes you off or tries to make you feel like the bad guy, it’s time to find a new, doctrinally sound church. Churches that allow or encourage women to teach men are just as much in sin as if they were allowing or encouraging church members to steal from the offering, or remain in a homosexual lifestyle, or if they taught that abortion is OK. No one should be joined to a church that’s in active, unrepentant sin.


Curious- Do you ever lose it? As in raise your voice and yell at an attacker? Last night a friend really came after my Christian walk, because I refuse to attend a service she has been attending. It is being led by false teachers. After several attempts to communicate to her- and her stubborn refusal to listen-I snapped and began yelling at her. I know it was sin. I asked her forgiveness, and today feel she is justified in questioning my Christian walk. Her attack on me was pretty ferocious during this difficult time of my life.

I know it doesn’t excuse MY behavior. Just curious if you have ever lost it like that?

I’m sorry. I know that must have been a difficult situation to be in, especially when you’re stressed about other things in life. Many hugs and pats on the back to you for repenting and asking her forgiveness! It can be really tough to humble ourselves and admit we were wrong about something. You did the right, godly thing, and you set a good example for her.

I don’t personally recall ever having lost it “like that,” but that has nothing to do with my stellar level of self control or personal holiness or anything like that. It has more to do with the fact that when I’m attacked, it’s virtually always online – social media, email, or blog comments – and virtually always by strangers. That affords me ways of dealing with the person or comment that aren’t feasible when you’re dealing with a friend or loved one in person.

I have gotten into a few exchanges on social media in which I was convicted that I crossed the line of anger or I squandered time in an argument that I should have stewarded better. In those cases, I’ve repented and asked the person’s forgiveness. And I’ve tried, since then to have a much stricter Matthew 7:6 policy.

The handful of times I’ve been attacked in person by someone I know, I was usually prepared because the meetings were pre-arranged for the specific purpose of excoriating me for standing on the truth of Scripture and decrying false teachers and false doctrine. I had my notes and thoughts in order and was prepared beforehand not to lose it.

The one or two times I’ve been spontaneously attacked in person by someone I know were relatively brief in duration, and I pretty much stood there in stunned silence with my mouth agape at the shock of a professing Christian acting that way. Even after all these years, I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever get used to.

So, to my recollection, no, I’ve never lost it like that in a similar situation, but mainly because I haven’t been in a similar situation.


I’m a co-leader of a women’s group at our church.. at first the other leader and I were on the same page.. no fluff. We are currently doing J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, and all I hear is, “It’s too hard!”. They all want fluff but 3 of us..How do I change their minds?… I’ve been praying on how to handle this. I can’t do fluff! They want Beth Moore type stuff. That is a hard pass for me. What should I do?

Atta girl! Fluff is not the answer, and we should always take a hard pass on false doctrine.

What should you do? You do exactly what you do with a toddler who only wants to keep eating candy rather than healthy food: You keep feeding her healthy food. You don’t give in to unbiblical, unhealthy childish whims. There’s not a single biblical passage that teaches us to coddle Christians in their immaturity. Scripture always instructs us to grow up.

That being said, we start babies on baby food, not steak. I haven’t read that particular book by Packer. Perhaps it is a little too tough for them, and the reason they’re suggesting “fluff” type authors and studies is that that’s all they know to suggest as an alternative.

Can I make a couple of suggestions? When you finish the Packer book (or, if you think it’s wiser, just discontinue it now)…

  • Grab one of my Bible studies and take them through it. Maybe one of the shorter ones like Colossians or Ruth. All of my studies are free, so if it turns out not to be a fit, nobody has lost any money. Also, you know where your ladies are, maturity-wise, and you can simplify or skip any of the questions you think are too tough for them at this moment. You can tailor the study for the ladies of your particular church.
  • If you absolutely have to do a book study rather than a Bible study, I would recommend my friend Allen Nelson’s book From Death to Life: How Salvation Works for two reasons: a) It’s a lot shorter, and probably simpler, too, than Packer’s book, and b) Often the reason women clamor after false teachers is because they’re not genuinely saved (John 10). This book is a wonderful, simple exposition of the gospel.

“Tough” and “fluff” aren’t your only two options. The key is to meet your ladies where they are, set the bar a little higher, and help them grow to maturity.


Why is Alistair Begg no longer listed at your Recommended Bible Teachers tab?

I was disappointed to have to remove him, but if I’m going to be fair and consistent about who I recommend, it had to be done.

It has been brought to my attention that Alistair Begg endorses the idea of a woman preaching or teaching the Sunday morning message in church (in other words, preaching/teaching to men) as long as she has been invited and given permission to do so by the pastor and elders. He has invited and permitted women to do this at his own church. This is unbiblical.

Listen as Begg explains in his own words in this sermon (starting around 30:12) on 1 Timothy 2:9-15b. (I would encourage you to listen to the whole sermon – in which he says many good things – for context.)

Christian Women (2) – Alistair Begg | September 16, 2019

Some may also recall that in 2019, Begg shared the stage with Beth Moore (also Tony Evans and others) at Baylor University’s National Preaching Conference, much to the chagrin of and numerous protests from his followers. In response to a follower who expressed concern, a statement1 from Begg’s ministry indicated that he accepted the invitation to speak without knowing who any of the other speakers were. He kept the engagement, but has not appeared with any other false teachers since then that I know of.

I did not remove Begg from my recommends at that time because I was hoping it was (and, so far, seems to have been) a one time goof that would teach him to use greater wisdom and discernment in the future. We all do dumb things from time to time, and well known pastors are no exception.

Begg’s statements in the sermon video above, however, are not a one time lapse in judgment. They are the well thought out, planned, and implemented policy of the church he pastors.

I’m not saying Begg is a heretic on par with Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland. Far from it. I don’t even consider him a false teacher. I just no longer feel comfortable saying, “Hey, this is a great teacher. I recommend that you follow him,” (i.e. putting him on my list of recommended teachers) when there are others I decline to recommend who hold the same erroneous position.

Earlier in the sermon Begg humbly admits (as should every good pastor) that he and his church don’t claim to have everything right, but that they will continue to grow in Christ and make corrections. If and when he corrects this error (and any others that might come to light), I’ll be delighted to reconsider him for inclusion on the list.

1This is not a website I endorse. It is linked only as evidence of the statements in this paragraph.


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Female pastor in 2 John?… Pronouns for pre-schoolers… Women’s ministry “how to”… Video studies for women?)

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.


Is the epistle of 2 John addressed to a female pastor? I just read a social media debate on this topic. One poster is focusing on the “children” in the verse, seeing them as God’s spiritual children (the church) and only considering the “chosen” or “elected” lady as the leader/pastor of the church. I took “chosen or elect” to mean she’s a “godly” woman, one predestined (chosen by God) like other believers.

Great question! It is so important to pay attention to details like this in Scripture.

No, 2 John is not addressed to a female “pastor”. If it were, it would be a stern letter of rebuke because such a woman would be in egregious sin and rebellion. The verses that are being twisted in an attempt to argue this fallacy are parts of verses 1, 4-5, and maybe a bit of 13:

The elder to the elect lady and her children … some of your children … I ask you, dear lady … The children of your elect sister greet you.

Excerpted from 2 John 1, 4-5, 13

You are definitely on the right track in your thinking. Some people think 2 John was written to a church and John was riffing off the “church as the Bride of Christ” metaphor by using this female personification of the church. “Elect” or “chosen lady” would then mean elect or chosen in the sense that the church is elect or chosen out of the world. This “lady’s” “children” would, metaphorically, be the members of that church.

Others think 2 John was written to a particular woman in the church, namely the woman who had offered her home as a place for the church to meet. Verse 10 would be a good fit with this idea, warning her that, though it was customary and good Christian hospitality to open her home to godly pastors and teachers who were traveling around and needed a place to stay, that she should not extend hospitality to those preaching a false gospel. This individual woman would be elect or chosen in the sense that every individual Christian is elect or chosen. Her “children” would be understood to be her own biological children.

Personally, I can see where a good argument could be made for both of these perspectives, and that maybe John had both in mind as God moved him to write this letter.

But whichever perspective you lean toward, one thing we know for sure is that it was not written to a female “pastor”. John would not have commended someone that Paul’s epistles rebuke. That would make Scripture contradict itself, and, thus, God contradict Himself, since He is the author of Scripture. And we know that can’t happen.


How would you respond (or how have you responded) when someone prefers to be called by the opposite gender?

I had a man correct my daughter (she’s only 2, almost 3) today because she referred to him as “he”. I told him out of deep love for him I could not in good conscience refer to him as “her,” but how do I explain that to an almost 3 year old? How have you informed your kids about this? Would love any feedback you have on this.

I do not envy you young moms who are having to deal with things like this with your small children. My youngest child is 19, so this was not an issue when he or any of his older siblings were toddlers or even young teens. Isn’t it amazing how fast the world has plunged headlong into this depth of sin?

I think you handled the situation just fine, and with a two or three year old who likely had zero memory of this incident the next day, you probably don’t even need to broach the subject. But if you do, I would suggest keeping your focus broad and shallow. “Honey, you need to whisper to me when you have a question about another person, or wait until later to ask. That person’s feelings might get hurt, and we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings if we can avoid it.”.

Honestly, for a two or three year old, even the part about hurting someone else’s feelings is going to go right over her head (as is the “wait until later” part, and she’s also unlikely to remember the “whisper to me” part for the future). Children that young rarely have the capacity to grasp the concept that another person even has feelings. They certainly aren’t going to understand the concept of adults “identifying” as the opposite sex. This is really not something you need to worry about trying to explain to her at this young age, and no amount of talking or explaining is going to keep a pre-schooler from verbalizing any and every thought that comes to mind. Ask any parent – that’s just what they do at that age.

In another year or two, if you encounter a person like this again and your daughter asks you why that man is dressed like a woman, you might say something like,

“Well, you know how sometimes you think you’d like to be a dog or a fairy princess instead of a little girl so that’s what you pretend to be? Do you ever see Mommy doing that? No? That’s because when we grow up, the Bible tells us we’re to put childish ways behind us. We’re to be happy with the way God made us and do our best to love Him and serve Him as the person He created us to be.

It’s really sad, but sometimes a boy [or vice versa for a girl] who doesn’t know God will grow up and think he would rather be a lady than a man, kind of like you think you’d rather be a fairy princess or a dog than a little girl. But instead of acting like a grown up and asking God to help him be happy with the way He made him, the man will dress up like a lady and pretend to be a lady. Let’s take a moment to pray for him, that He will come to know Jesus and be happy that God made him a man.”

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: What’s In a Name?

pride, pronouns & prodigals at A Word Fitly Spoken


My church is looking at getting our women’s ministry off the ground and I was asked to be on the team. Do you have any pointers for what works best for your women’s ministry? I definitely want the focus to be growing women in the Word, but I’m unsure how to go about structuring the meeting.

I’m going to give you some resources below that can help jump start your brainstorming, but first a few very simple suggestions:

  • Trust God and pray for wisdom and direction. God promises to give them to you if you ask, so why not take Him up on His offer?
  • Gather your ladies together (or create a survey and email it out) and ask them what sort of structure or class would be most helpful to them.
  • With their feedback in hand, talk things over with your pastor. He should be able to give you some guidance that’s tailor made for the ladies at your particular church.

Additional Resources:

Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century– Listen in to my teaching session from last year’s OHCW conference. In fact, you might find all of last year’s sessions to be helpful (you’ll find the links below the video).

All Word and No Play: The Importance of Fun and Fellowship in the Doctrinally Sound Church

Guest Post: Building a Biblically Healthy Women’s Ministry (by a pastor, for pastors)


The small church I pastor in the process of launching a women’s ministry and I’m curious if there are any specific video studies led by women that you recommend. I hope to compose a menu of studies for them. Thanks for your assistance.

In case anyone is confused, this email is from a (male) pastor, not a woman pretending to be a pastor. Just wanted to clear that up, there. :0)

Brother pastor, my husband is a retired worship pastor, and God always had us at small churches too, so I not only sympathize with the challenges small churches face, but I also have a lot of experience with women’s ministry at small churches.

And still, I encourage women’s ministries (men’s ministries too, if that were my wheelhouse) not to use what I call “canned” studies (workbooks, videos, etc.) but to study and teach straight from the text of Scripture itself. That’s the primary reason why, on principle, I don’t make recommendations for any women’s Bible study materials other than the Bible itself. The second reason I don’t recommend “canned” studies is that, as you have probably discovered in your search, the overwhelming majority of women’s “Bible” studies are authored by false teachers and consist mainly of fluff and false doctrine. Even if I wanted to make recommendations, it would be nearly impossible.

What I would recommend instead is that you find at least one woman, and maybe up to five or six women, should your church be so blessed, who are spiritually mature and seem to have the gift of teaching, and begin training them to rightly handle and teach Scripture to other women, since this is the biblical instruction we’re given.

As they’re learning, you may wish to take them through or have them practice teaching some of the Bible studies I’ve written as “training wheels” to help them learn. My studies (all free) are designed to teach women how to study straight from the text of Scripture in a “learn by doing” way. Once they get the hang of it, they’ll never have to rely on anyone else’s materials again, even mine! Plus, they’ll eventually be able to teach other women how to teach the Bible. Here are some other resources I think will help:

Additional Resources:

Bible Studies

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

4 Ways We’re Getting Women’s Discipleship Wrong, and How We Can Get it Right!

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

The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century (Session 2 on video)

How to Study the Bible – and How Not To


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.

Christmas, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should My Church Participate in Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox Ministry?

Originally published September 23, 2019

This article has been modified and updated
since its original publication.

I lead the children’s ministry in our small rural church, and for years our children have participated in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox “ministry.” It has come to my attention that this program may be quite ineffective in spreading the gospel. In fact, I have read that many missionaries refuse the boxes because it causes such chaos and confusion. I would like recommendations of legitimate world mission organizations [we could donate to instead] that would allow our children to look past our sheltered life here to what God is doing in other parts of His creation.

Wait…what? Christmas? It’s only September!

Yep. Christmas will be here sooner than you think, and your church staff and committees are probably already planning for it. And if your church usually participates in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) but might decide to do something different this year because of the information in this article, they’re going to need some time to get their ducks in a row.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse organization, an evangelistic “international relief” outreach. Each fall, churches across the U.S. encourage their members to fill an OCC shoebox with small gifts and hygiene items. OCC collects the boxes, tucks in a gospel booklet, and delivers the boxes to children in various locations around the world. At an OCC shoebox distribution event, an OCC representative shares the gospel with the assembled children and then distributes a box to each child.

There are two separate questions in this reader’s e-mail:

  • Should my church participate in Operation Christmas Child?
  • What are some other good international ministries my church could participate in instead?

Should I/my church participate in Operation Christmas Child?

I want to clarify this question a little bit. I understand what the reader who sent this e-mail means when she mentions missionaries reporting “chaos and confusion” resulting from shoebox distribution, because prior to receiving her e-mail, I had already been reading reports (maybe the same ones she read) of exactly the same thing (more on that in a sec). So the main issue the reader is asking about is whether or not the shoebox distributions are the most efficient, effective, and biblical way to share the gospel and undergird missionary efforts.

However, since I originally published this article in 2019, I’ve become aware of another issue with OCC that needs to be a weighty consideration when deciding whether or not to have anything to do with OCC, Samaritan’s Purse, or Franklin Graham, and that is the fact that Franklin Graham yokes in ministry with some of the worst false teachers out there.

For example: During Franklin Graham’s “Prayer March 2020” he partnered and joined in prayer with numerous heretics, false teachers, and their organizations, including TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), Matt and Laurie Crouch (heads of TBN), Jonathan Cahn, Jentzen Franklin, Robert Morris, and Paula White, among others, and then unashamedly platformed them on his Twitter feed. This was not a little “oopsie” with one person he disagrees with on baptism or eschatology. These are people who are blatantly immersed in New Apostolic Reformation and other egregious false doctrine. It is inexcusable for a professing Christian of his stature and influence a) not to know this, or b) to know it and ignore it, defying Scripture’s many commands not to associate with such reprobates.

Franklin also promotes his sister, Anne Graham Lotz, and platforms her in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s (BGEA) Decision Magazine. As CEO of BGEA, he has allowed people like Brian Johnson (Bethel’s senior worship “pastor”; Jenn Johnson’s husband, Bill Johnson’s son), Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, and Sheila Walsh to be featured on the BGEA website and in other BGEA media. He has allowed BGEA’s The Cove conference center to be used for events featuring Beth Moore and Lisa Harper. Franklin has featured Hillsong and Phil Wickham (close ties to Bethel) at his events. In 2020, he participated in the Hope Rising Benefit Concert, which featured, among others, modalist and prosperity preacher T.D. Jakes, Priscilla Shirer, and Lysa TerKeurst. All funds raised went to Samaritan’s Purse. (If you’re unclear on why these people are unbiblical, click here.)

He may be a really nice guy who’s on the right side of politics and important biblical issues like homosexuality and abortion, and he may do a lot of good charity work, and you may have a sentimental attachment to his father (Billy Graham), but none of that mitigates the fact that he’s defying Scripturesinning – by yoking with some really egregious false teachers.

Until/unless Franklin Graham publicly repents of this sin, it is my recommendation that you not participate in or donate to Operation Christmas Child, nor have anything to do with Franklin Graham, nor either of the two organizations of which he is president and CEO: Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Now, to the reader’s question: Is the OCC shoebox program the wisest way to steward our church’s resources – could we get more gospel bang for our buck another way? Is this a biblical model for sharing the gospel? Do shoebox distributions cause problems for missionaries and the communities they serve in?

And for the answers to those questions, I would encourage every church and individual considering participating in OCC not only to heavily weigh the information above about Franklin Graham’s yoking with false teachers, but also to read all of the information at the OCC website and compare what you read to these missionaries’ first hand accounts¹ of how shoebox distributions were handled and how the distributions impacted their work and communities. Then, prayerfully consider choosing another, doctrinally sound evangelistic organization to support instead.

“What happens when the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ
is associated with dollar-store trinkets from America?”

“In some places, we haven’t been well-received because the missionaries who went there before us presented gifts….and we have no gifts. When those missionaries left, their ‘converts’ also returned back to their old faith and were waiting for the next gift presenters.”

Opening Up Christmas Shoeboxes: What Do They Look Like On the Other Side?
and
Sometimes the Starfish Story Doesn’t Work
These articles (the second is a follow up to the first) are both by Amy Medina.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“When Saddam Hussein was terrorizing the Kurds…an American was in Baghdad meeting with the Minister of Health. The minister abruptly said “I have to go – do you want to come with me? I have to do something for our leader’s birthday.” The American goes with him. They go to a warehouse in Baghdad, and there sit piles and piles of Samaritan’s purse Christmas Shoe Boxes. The Minister of Health is supervising minions to deliver all of them to the Children’s Hospital as gifts from Uncle Saddam for his birthday….a bunch of Iraqi kids got wonderful gifts from Saddam by way of Franklin Graham at Samaritan’s Purse.”

13 Things I Want American Christians to Know about the Stuff You Give Poor Kids by Rachel Pieh Jones

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

…the Operation Christmas Child boxes had reached the warehouse in Ndola and…the Mansa churches needed to come up with eight kwacha per box for 5,000 boxes to receive their shipment. That’s $4,000USD…comments from the pastors ranged from, “We don’t have this kind of money,” to, “Aren’t these boxes supposed to be free?” to, “Next year, let’s just refuse the boxes all together!”

boxing up expectations: reflections on OCC and the church by Bethany Colvin

What are some other good international ministries I/my church could participate in instead?

Whether you’re looking for a ministry to donate to or a way to tangibly serve others, the first thing I would recommend is that you ask your pastor what the needs are in your own church (remember, we serve the needs of our own church members first before serving others). It’s not biblical to overlook the needs of the brother or sister down the pew from you in favor of strangers half a world away.

If everyone in your church is taken care of, your pastor may be able to suggest a local or international ministry that could use your help. Many churches donate directly to various individual missionaries and local and international ministries, and I think you should support your church and its leadership by donating to the ministries they have chosen before looking for other ministries to donate to.

If your pastor doesn’t have any recommendations, my suggestion would be to give what people need the most: God’s Word:

The Master’s Academy International

HeartCry Missionary Society

Tomorrow Clubs

Gideons International

Pocket Testament League

Some of the articles I linked to earlier in this post include information on alternatives to OCC, and I’ve given a few more thoughts here.

Whichever ministry you choose to serve or donate to, make sure to vet its theology, and make sure they are sharing the gospel along with whatever relief or goods they are providing.


Addendum: After the original publication of this article, most of the feedback I received was thoughtful and positive. However, I was shocked at the number of nasty, enraged comments and e-mails I received – from professing Christians, mind you – that seemed to elevate participation in OCC to an idolatrous level. What you prayerfully decide to do about participating in OCC is between you and God, but if you are angered by the information in this article to the point that you strike out at me or one of the missionaries who has simply stated her honest experience with OCC, you need to check your heart against Scripture. You are idolizing OCC over loving your brothers and sisters in Christ, and you’re acting in a way unbecoming of a professing Christian.

If you are considering responding to this article with nastiness or rage, please save yourself some time and don’t bother. I will not publish comments like that anywhere on my blog or social media, and I will immediately delete (without reading, and certainly without responding) any such emails.

OCC Shoeboxes: Answering the Arguments


¹These specific articles are provided for their attestation to experiences with OCC, only. I do not endorse any of these sites which deviate from Scripture or my theology as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

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 contact me. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mailbag, Marriage

The Mailbag: My fiance and I don’t agree on theology

Originally published November 27, 2017

After struggling to find a solid local church, I finally found one that’s gospel-centered. I have been fellowshipping there for close to 6 months now and am planning to pursue membership soon. My fiancé is a godly man, but he lives in another town, so he fellowships and serves in a church which he knows has some unbiblical doctrinal issues I won’t compromise on. After our wedding, we plan to live in the town he currently resides in. There are no Bible believing churches around (all are prosperity gospel churches). I am confused because I am not ready to listen to unsound teaching and later bring up my children in a community I don’t agree with theologically.

That’s such a difficult dilemma to be caught in, and I certainly do sympathize. An engagement period should be a joyful time of planning your wedding and your subsequent life together, not agonizing over major disagreements.

That said, it is good that you recognized this problem before the wedding rather than after, and I would strongly encourage you not to move ahead with the marriage unless and until the two of you have come to a biblical agreement on the matter.

Marriage can be challenging even when you agree on all the important stuff. But when you staunchly disagree on what should be the most important issue in your marriage – Christ, His Word, and His church – it can be devastating. Even if you think you are spiritually mature enough to work through the issue and remain committed to your vows, your husband might not be, and could decide he’d rather give up on the marriage than continue to struggle.

There are a couple of Scripture passages I’d encourage you to take a look at as you continue to work through this dilemma:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18: Though verse 14 of this passage clearly says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” (You said your fiancé was a godly man, so I’m assuming he’s a Believer.) and though the context of this passage is more broadly about the church yoking with unbelievers than it is about marriage, there are still some important applications to your situation.

Get a good picture in your mind of two oxen being yoked together to pull a plow or wagon, because that’s the image the Holy Spirit is giving us in this passage. Even if you’re both oxen (i.e. both Believers) what’s going to happen if you’re pulling one direction and your husband is pulling the other direction? Or if you’re pulling one direction and he digs his hooves in and refuses to budge? To plow rightly, you’ve got to be pulling in the same direction together. What would happen if you yoked a full grown ox with a small calf? Even if you’re pulling the same direction, that yoke is going to rub one or both of you raw, cause blisters, etc. Prayerfully think about the words “yoked,” “partnership,” “fellowship,” “accord,” “share,” and “agreement” in this passage in light of the spiritual differences between you and your fiancé.

Ephesians 5:22-33: Examine what this passage calls you to in your role as a wife: Submit to your husband. Respect your husband. Already you have an issue because when it comes to your husband requiring you to do something ungodly (such as attend and raise your children in a heretical “church”) you, as a Believer, must obey God rather than men.”

Now examine the role this passage calls your husband to. Is he giving himself up for you as Christ did for the church in order to make sure you grow and flourish in sound doctrine in your relationship with the Lord? (v. 25-27) Is he nourishing and cherishing your sanctification? Is he loving you as his own flesh?

In addition to praying and studying the Scriptures, it would be very helpful to make an appointment with your pastor (not his) for pre-marital counseling. He can lead the two of you to talk through the issue and determine whether or not you can resolve it in a biblical way. Your fiancé’s responses should give you a clearer picture of what to do, and if he refuses pastoral counseling, that should also be an indicator about which direction your relationship should go.

Husbands and wives do not have to agree verbatim – although it’s wonderful if they do – on every teensy tinsy molecule of doctrine or the marriage is doomed. (My husband and I have a few minor theological disagreements, but we’re in agreement about 98% of the time, and certainly on all the most important tenets of doctrine.) But heresy versus sound doctrine is not a teensy tinsy molecule of doctrine. It is a major issue that will harmfully impact your marriage and your children – in more ways than you can now imagine – for the rest of your lives. I would strongly encourage you to put the wedding on hold until this issue is resolved in a biblical way. Your love for and loyalty to Christ must take precedence over your love for and loyalty to any man:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” 
Matthew 10:34-37


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Good morning, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a CliffsNotes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!


[Instagrammer asks a question in the comments or DMs me a question]

I love my Instagram followers! Most of you are very sweet and kind, and you ask some really smart questions!

But a lot of you a) don’t seem to know that I have a blog, and b) aren’t familiar with how I use Instagram and how I do correspondence. I totally get that. A lot of you are new and Instagram seems to have a high turnover, and a much higher “hit or miss” with posts than other social media platforms. (Plus, I’m a weirdo and don’t use Instagram the way most influencers do. I mainly use it to tell you what’s on the blog each day.)

So, let me try to help. If you’ve commented or DM’d me a question and I haven’t answered, I would encourage you to watch “Questions” and “Get Info” in my highlights. (In fact, you might want to watch “Need a church?” “Warning,” and “New?” too.)

This is included in the “Questions?” highlight from a Mailbag article. I think it will be helpful to all of my social media and blog followers.


I’m in the market for a new Bible. What would you recommend? I really appreciate your ministry!

Thank you so much for your kind words. And thank you to all my followers who take a moment to encourage me with your comments. As you might imagine, and have probably witnessed, I catch a lot of flak via email and social media from people who don’t like or misunderstand things I’ve said and written. The encouragement is greatly needed and appreciated.

You’re right on time with your question! Amy and I answered it on a recent Glad You Asked episode of the podcast, and that answer was largely based on my blog article The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?


God bless you, I wanted to reach out to see if you do Bible studies or if you know any through Zoom with other ladies.

It depends on what you mean by “do Bible studies”. If you’re asking whether or not I teach Bible studies in a video or livestream format, the answer is no, for two reasons. First, at the moment, I don’t have time. Second, I really think you should be meeting in person with a small group for Bible study – ideally with women from your own church and with oversight from your pastor. I understand there are situations in which that isn’t possible, but that is the ideal I want to encourage women toward. God’s plan is the in person assembling of the local church, not Zoom.

I do write Bible studies, though. They are all free, all suitable for groups or individuals, and all designed to teach you how to study or teach straight from the text of Scripture. If you’re new to that idea, I would encourage you to find a friend or a small group of friends, pick one of my studies, and work through it together.

You can find all of my studies and more helpful resources at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

And speaking of Bible studies…

Are your Bible studies able to print off?!

Yes. Click the “Bible Studies” link above for all the info and instructions.

Can you recommend a good daily devotional book for a 17-year-old girl? Our granddaughter is having surgery in a few days and I was hoping to send her a little get well soon package and I would like to include a devotional.

What a blessing to have a godly grandma! I’m sorry, but, on principle, I don’t recommend what I call “canned” Bible studies and devotionals. I recommend that Christians read and study straight from the text of Scripture. (You can read more about why at the “Bible Studies” link above, and in my article The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?.)

May I make a suggestion? Instead of a devotional, how about a new Bible? Or perhaps you could find a small “for those recovering from illness/surgery” gift book of selections from the Psalms, or a “coffee table” type book that is mostly artwork or photography, accompanied by Bible verses. There are also “Bibles” that are Psalms and Proverbs only. (Just make sure all of these books use a reliable translation of Scripture.) If you want to go a little higher tech, consider an iTunes gift card so she can download her favorite (doctrinally sound) Christian music, or a subscription to AGTV.


The women’s group of the church that we are attending will be doing a Priscilla Shirer simulcast. I have read your article about Ms. Shirer and have decided to abstain from attending the event. How do I lovingly but truthfully tell the women in this group why I am refusing to attend and why I feel this is not someone whom we should be promoting? (unless of course, Ms. Shirer has changed her stance since your article was written). My husband and I believe [our pastor] to be of sound doctrine [but] I am certain that he is oblivious to P. Shirer. [I] hope that you can help me “find the right words” to discuss this with those involved.

I am so sorry this is happening in your church. I have been in exactly that situation, so I know what it’s like.

Here are a couple of articles I think will be of help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? I would suggest approaching your women’s ministry leader (or whoever is most immediately in charge of the simulcast) first, then working your way up the chain of command until you’ve spoken to the pastor, if necessary.

The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? (I know you’ve already decided not to attend the simulcast, but I think some of the info in this article will still be helpful.)

Just a note to all of my readers on the “unless she ‘has changed her stance since your article was written'” part: You’ll notice at the top of my article on Priscilla it says, “This article is kept continuously updated as needed.” (I think I’ve remembered to put this at the top of all of my articles on particular teachers? If I missed one, let me know.) Translation: “Yes, I originally wrote this article in 2015, but I go back and update it – fix links, add or delete info, etc. – whenever I feel it’s necessary.”.

If any teacher I’ve ever written an article about genuinely gets saved, repents of her false teaching, etc., I promise you, unless I’m somehow Providentially hindered, you will hear about it from me ASAP. That is not something I’m going to neglect to update you on (and rejoice with you about!) immediately. In the meantime, you can safely assume that the information in my articles is still accurate and applicable and that the teacher is either still status quo with the info in the article, or has gotten worse.


I have several Bible apps, and recently you gave info in one of your mailbags that YouVersion app is not recommended, and knowing now what I didn’t know then, I uninstalled it. I did find it easy to navigate and the search capability was good, but I no longer want anything to do with it. If you could kindly lead me to one that is as user friendly, I need an app that you recommend that is as simple as me. Lol

I like to keep things simple, too. I hope you’ll find my article My Favorite Bible & Study Apps to be helpful.


Our church has a mixed adult Sunday school. My conviction has been silence as I do not want the appearance of teaching men. I am discouraged as most of the responses in the hour of teaching is from the women in the group even though our church only allows men to be in teaching positions. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on this. I have appreciated your podcast and website information.

I know it can be discouraging when it seems like men are being less manly or exhibiting less leadership than we would hope. I would encourage you to kindly talk to your pastor or elders about your concerns and ask for some insight as well.

In this particular situation, it may be wise to answer fewer questions, or make fewer comments than you normally would, not because you would be teaching (or even giving the appearance of teaching), but because it might give the men more space to get a word in edgewise. If this dynamic is really problematic, I wonder if it might be helpful to split the class into a men’s class and a women’s class. Perhaps that way the men would feel more comfortable contributing. Maybe that’s something you can discuss with your pastor or elders.

I’ve explained why women answering questions and participating in the discussion in a co-ed Sunday School / Bible study class isn’t teaching men or a violation of Scripture in my article Rock Your Role FAQs #4.


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.