Mailbag, Southern Baptist/SBC

The Mailbag: When is it time to leave the SBC?

Originally published June 14, 2021

In the past, I’ve received some responses/comments on this issue from Christians who seem very angry that anybody is still in the SBC. While I share your righteous anger at the sin being committed in the SBC (and at those committing it), please don’t let your anger spill over onto your brothers and sisters who are still attempting to navigate this situation in a godly way in the context of their own families and local churches. Extend grace and patience and trust God to work in their hearts His way and in His timing.

At what point does one leave the SBC? I know there are other doctrinally sound churches where one could worship. When would “guilt by association” turn into a stumbling block for others?

How will you be handling the possible debacle with the SBC? We are so torn about this situation. Any advice or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

These are just a couple of the “Should I stay or should I go?” questions and comments I’ve received about the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention.

There’s no denying there are, and have been for decades, serious problems in the SBC, mainly at the national leadership level. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, over the past several weeks, you’ve been reading about those problems, both old and new.

How do you know when it’s time to stand and fight to correct the problems, and when it’s time to declare it a total loss and walk away? How long until staying in the trenches, pleading with the SBC to repent becomes, functionally, being unequally yoked with unbelievers, when it becomes apparent they have no intention of repenting and we refuse to break fellowship with them? Indeed, how can we know when or whether it’s time to leave any church or denomination with such seemingly insurmountable biblical problems?

I don’t know.

But I can tell you there’s Biblical support for both staying (for now) and leaving. As Ecclesiastes might say, “A time to contend for the faith, and a time to shake the dust off your feet and leave.”

In the Old Testament, we see God bearing with Pharaoh’s stiff-necked rebellion through ten plagues. We see Him patiently calling Israel out of idolatry for hundreds of years.

But He did destroy Pharaoh and his army at the end of those ten plagues. And He did eventually send Israel into exile when the time for His forbearance came to an end.

But we also see Jesus leaving the ninety-nine and pursuing the one sheep that went astray. We see the father of the prodigal watching and waiting for his son’s return.

Jesus brought that sheep back. And the prodigal did return in repentance.

God knew whether and when they would all come back, and how long to persist with each. How can we?

The only way to know is to ask Him. This is something every individual Southern Baptist, every Southern Baptist family, and every Southern Baptist church needs to be praying about, asking God for wisdom to know what to do and when the time is right.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

And the answer is probably going to look different between different churches, different members of the same church, even different members of the same family.

And that’s OK. Already, some godly churches, families, and individuals have cut ties with the SBC. And that doesn’t mean they didn’t have enough faith or enough patience. Some godly churches, families, and individuals have determined to stick it out until things turn around or until the bitter end, whatever form that may take. And that doesn’t mean they’re compromising or naive.

God works in different ways in different hearts and circumstances because He created us as unique people and placed us in varying situations. He does that for His glory and our good. It’s a testament to how big and capable He is and His special care for each of us as His “one of a kind” child.

But, in addition to the privilege of prayer and God’s promise of wisdom, there’s another blessing God has given us in this situation – the blessing of authority and structure.

God has given us a hierarchy of authority in the church and the home that, when followed, pools the wisdom He has imparted to individuals and prevents any one person from bearing the responsibility for making this decision alone.

As an individual, you pray and search the Scriptures earnestly about this issue. If you’re married and your husband is a Believer, the two of you bring your individual convictions to the table, and pray and study on it, and, hopefully, come to a consensus on it (and, if not, you’ll need to submit to your husband’s position), together.

Next, married or not, you, or you and your family will need to find out where your church leadership is on all of this, if you don’t already know. If your pastor and elders haven’t already come together and talked to the church body about staying in or getting out, and why, you’ll need to set up an appointment with whichever one of them is appropriate and ask about their thoughts and position. If the issue of leaving or staying isn’t even on their radar yet, it would be an appropriate time for you and your husband to share your concerns and ask when they might address this issue.

My encouragement to you would be that if you are in a doctrinally sound Southern Baptist church, with trustworthy pastors and elders who are trying to do the right thing, biblically, give strong, prayerful consideration to following their leadership on this issue, even if you don’t see exactly eye to eye with their position.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

Pray fervently for your pastor and elders about this. Pray for your husband as he seeks to lead your family in a godly direction. If you’re married, submit to your husband’s decision about whether and when to leave. If you’re single, if at all possible, submit to your pastor’s and elders’ decisions about staying or leaving.

There’s not a “one size fits all” solution to this issue. You, as an individual have to seek the Lord and obey Him in your unique situation.

May our gracious Lord give all of us wisdom and humility, and carry us through this difficult time.


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.

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The Mailbag: Potpourri (Breastfeeding videos…Women performing weddings…Only God is awesome?)

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.


For any men who might be reading – this question is about breastfeeding. If that’s a sensitive issue for you, please just scroll right on past this section.

I have searching for biblical content about breastfeeding and your post from 3 years ago “The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding? really did make think. I’m currently studying to become a pediatric dietitian if God allows it, and I have a debate in myself. I’m starting to create content in social media in order to teach about these topics: breastfeeding, nutrition, etc. But now I don’t know if it’ correct to share real videos that are educative to teach how to properly breastfeed, showing examples and different cases that help mothers to understand. Since it is shameful to show breast according to Bible, am I wrong if I am looking to share or record these types of videos? Just to clarify, these videos only shows the necessary.

I hope my email can reach you and have an advice for this, may the Lord continuing giving you wisdom and excuse me any grammatical error since english is not my first language.

Can I first just say – I have the utmost admiration for anyone who tackles English as a second language. Its intricacies and inconsistencies are often difficult even for us native speakers! When I get English messages from followers whose native language is not English, they almost always apologize for grammar and spelling errors. Please rest assured, when I read your messages, I’m not critiquing them, I’m wishing I were as proficient in a second language as you are!

Instructional videos for mothers about breastfeeding are not the same thing as a mother who is breastfeeding in public. For one thing, your videos are aimed specifically at women (new mothers), and for a legitimate purpose (teaching breastfeeding). If a man (assuming he’s not a health care worker who needs to view your videos for professional purposes) proactively clicks on and watches your videos in order to see women’s bare breasts, he is the one at fault, not you. His actions would be more similar to a man who peeks through the window of a woman’s bedroom to watch her breastfeed, not a man out in public, minding his own business, who’s suddenly confronted with a view of a woman’s breasts because she’s not making any effort to reasonably cover while nursing.

Additionally, aiming your videos at new mothers (women) is more similar to a woman breastfeeding her baby in a group meeting for new moms (all women), than out in public (random men and women present).

Here are a couple of things I would suggest:

  • Make sure the titles of your videos make it obvious in some way that they are educational, instructional videos on breastfeeding for new mothers and postpartum/neonatal healthcare workers.
  • Instead of, say, just posting these videos on your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., pages, set up a separate professional social media page or group specifically for your videos and other breastfeeding materials. (I would suggest also setting up a website and YouTube channel specifically for your breastfeeding materials.) Not only will this help build your professional online platform, but your male friends and family members won’t be randomly running across your videos (which might make them uncomfortable) every time they scroll through social media.

I think that’s really as far as your responsibility goes. Men have to take responsibility for what they view at some point, too. It’s not all on you.


I have a question about women who are ordained. My cousin is ordained to perform marriages in the state of South Carolina. Would that be considered the same as an ordained preacher and against I Timothy 2 teaching? As far as I know all she does is perform marriage ceremonies and does not “preach” in the pulpit.

Great question!

I’m thinking there might be a little confusion about the term “ordained” here. “Ordaining” is what a church does when it sets someone apart for ministry. “Licensing” is what the government does that allows a person to legally perform marriages recognized by the state.

For example, pastors, elders, and (usually) deacons are ordained by the church to their respective offices, but they are not automatically licensed to legally perform marriages. For that, they have to go downtown to the courthouse and fill out some paperwork. By the same token, people can go to the courthouse, fill out the paperwork, and become licensed to perform marriages, and never have set foot in a church in their lives.

So, I think maybe you mean your cousin is licensed by the state to perform marriages, not that she is ordained by her church to do so. (I’ve never heard of a church that ordains someone just to perform marriages, but if that’s what’s going on here, the more pressing problem is the church’s ecclesiology, not your cousin officiating at weddings.)

So let’s go with your cousin being licensed by the state, not ordained by the church: No, that’s not technically a violation of 1 Timothy 2:12, assuming she’s not preaching a sermon as part of the marriage ceremony. The biblical prohibition is against women pastoring, preaching to men, instructing men in the Scriptures, and holding unbiblical authority over men in the context of the church gathering.

But there are all kinds of variables that play into whether or not it’s wise or appropriate for her to be officiating weddings. Does your cousin profess to be a Christian? Where do these weddings take place – in a church, park, reception hall, beach, etc.? Is she performing these weddings, or being viewed as performing these weddings as an official representative of her church? (In other words, would those not in the know confuse her performing weddings for her being a pastor of her church?) Do the bride and groom profess to be Christians? If so, why would they not want their pastor (or at least a pastor) to perform the ceremony in their own church?

I’m just saying I would need to know a lot more, probably on a case by case basis, to weigh in on whether or not it’s actually a good idea for her to perform any or all of these wedding ceremonies.


FIRST, I want to say thank you for your recent list of doctrinally sound men. My reason for writing comes from referring to them as “awesome” in your social media post about them:

Today on the blog: Check out these awesome men to follow and learn from…”

I would just would ask you to consider the use of the word “awesome” when it applies to “mere” men (or women, for that matter.) Never mind the “world,” but Christians use that word so freely when talking about truly “good” things (and we also use it for things like movies and ice cream.)

Is it wrong to want there to be a word that is reserved for God and what he does? When something is clearly a work of God, even working through a person, there are times I can agree that it is something awesome. But largely, the things we call awesome are not.

It’s always good to evaluate our words to make sure we are representing Christ well, and, no, it’s not wrong to want there to be a word that is reserved for God and what He does. But let me challenge us to take this a bit deeper than just the surface level use of a particular word.

I’ve received this same basic question a handful of times over the years, and the question has always been about the word “awesome”. And I just have two questions about that:

First, why “awesome”? I think a much stronger biblical case could be made against using “good” or “holy”.

I’m betting that, like the reader who wrote in, we all use the word “good” in the same ways the word “awesome” is used – “truly good things,” movies, ice cream, saying “Good dog!” etc. – because they both mean the same thing, except that awesome is a little more intense. And yet, while Scripture doesn’t speak to our use of the descriptor “awesome,” Jesus Himself addressed the use of the word “good” in Mark and Luke:

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Now, when we read this passage in context, we know that Jesus isn’t telling this guy (or us) that he shouldn’t call Him good, that he shouldn’t call anything good, that Jesus isn’t good, or that Jesus isn’t God. Quite the opposite of most of those, in fact.

He’s directing the rich young ruler’s attention to the fact that only God is completely good. That God is the only and perfect standard and embodiment of good. He was basically saying, “You’re calling me good in this context. Does that mean you’re prepared to call me God?”.

But what Jesus doesn’t say (here or anywhere else in Scripture) is, “Since only God is truly, completely, and perfectly good, you can’t use the word “good” to describe anything else.”. In fact God Himself uses the word “good” to describe other, lesser things besides Himself. He has prepared good works for us to do. God pronounced everything He created good. He gives us good gifts. He says good trees bear good fruit. And so on.

Personally, if I got to choose the word we were all going to consecrate to use only for describing God, it would be “holy”. I would be totally OK with us losing expressions like “holy cow,” “holy moly,” etc., forever. (And when my kids were little and would use one of those expressions, I would remind them, “Only God is holy.”.) First of all, there are far fewer people and things that could correctly be called “holy” than “awesome” or “good”.

“Only Thou art holy,” we sing. And it’s true. Though Christians are a holy nation, and we’re to strive for holiness, we are only positionally holy and set apart because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us. Even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags. In a common grace sense, we might say someone is a “good” man for the job, or a store is having an “awesome” sale, but there is no common grace sense in which anyone but Christians – and we, only through Christ – could, in any way, properly be called holy.

My second question about reserving “awesome,” or any other adjective, strictly for God is: If you’re going to be consistent with your line of reasoning, how far are you going to take this? If you’re going to stop using “awesome” for anything but God, are you also going to stop using the word “good” for anything but God? What about “perfect”? Powerful? Just? Kind? Compassionate? Merciful? Are you going to stop saying, “I love you” to your family because God is love, and only He loves perfectly and completely?

I hope not. I hope you won’t stop using any of those words, because God doesn’t require you to. It would be self-imposed legalism. Remember when Jesus said to the Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”? He was trying to teach them that the Sabbath was meant to be a blessing and a benefit of rest to God’s people, not a slave driver of legalism adding one more day of work (to earn God’s favor) to their week.

It’s kind of the same general idea with language in this case. Language is one of God’s good and awesome gifts to us. It gives us a way to express our reverence for Him, but also our delight in the work of His hands – like ice cream and dogs. Just as with the Sabbath, there’s a godly and appropriate way to use language, but, outside of those parameters, language was never meant to enslave us or hamstring our ability to communicate. When we use language to appreciate God’s good gifts, or to express delight or pleasure, knowing that every good gift and grace redounds to His glory, He is exalted.

When we use language to appreciate God’s good gifts, or to express delight or pleasure, knowing that every good gift and grace redounds to His glory, He is exalted.

If you’re convicted not to use the word “awesome” for anything but God, or you don’t want people calling you awesome as a matter of conscience, that’s totally fine. Don’t violate your conscience. But you must realize that it is a matter of your conscience, not everybody’s. And you can’t bind others to your conscience. Whether or not to use the word “awesome” is an issue of Christian liberty. It is not a biblical command.

Listen in to Christian Liberty on A Word Fitly Spoken

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), Mailbag, Parenting

The Mailbag: Mother’s Day Potpourri

Originally published May 3, 2021

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.


This week on the blog, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, it’s all about the mamas. Here’s a roundup of Mailbag articles and other resources on motherhood and parenting…

How can I raise my daughters to be godly women?

Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman


How can I raise my sons to be godly men?

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man


Am I violating Scripture’s prohibition on women teaching men by teaching my sons the Bible at home?

Rock Your Role FAQs (#12)


Can you recommend a good Bible study for teen girls?
Can you recommend a devotional I can do with my kids?
How can I teach my kids the Bible?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Kids’ devotionals, The Chosen- Season 2, Methodist apostasy) (section 1)

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

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

12 Techniques for Raising Bible-Saturated Kids

Homemade Catechism: 11 Scriptures for Real Life Parenting Situations


Which children’s Bible do you recommend?

The Mailbag: Children’s Bible Recommendations


How can I know if my disabled (or very young) child is saved?

The Mailbag: Salvation and the Mentally Challenged


My young child says she is saved and wants to be baptized. How can I know if she’s really saved and ready for baptism?

A Review of Justin Peters’ “Do Not Hinder Them”


I’m thinking about homeschooling, but I don’t know where to start. Help!

Homeschool Resources


As a stay-at-home / homeschooling mom of boys, how can I make sure they’re getting the male leadership and influence they need during the day while my husband is at work?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…) (section 2)


What is your position on birth control or having a planned family size? 

The Mailbag: Christian Women Working, Using Birth Control, and Limiting Family Size

The Mailbag: Should I Risk Another Pregnancy?


Should I cover myself and my baby while breastfeeding for the sake of modesty?

The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding?


How can I teach my children about modesty?

Modesty- Part 3 at A Word Fitly Spoken (We suggest you listen to all three parts in order as they build on one another)


Is spanking biblical or abusive?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Spanking, Women teaching men, Working a homosexual “wedding”…) (section 1)


Can I get some guidance on training my children to behave in church?

Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church 

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Joni’s testimony, “Messy”, Female seminary profs…) (section 4)

Yes Sir! That’s My Baby!


How do I deal with my unsaved parents who are an ungodly influence on my children?

The Mailbag: Grandparents an Ungodly Influence on My Kids


Biblical advice / information on parenting in general?

Do You Trust God with Your Kids?: 8 Ways to Parent Your Children Like God “Parents” You

Parenting: What a Child Wants, What a Child Needs

Parenting Without Shame

The 10 Commandments of Parenting


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.

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The Mailbag: How can I grow to love Jesus more?

Originally published June 11, 2018

I have been a born again Christian for many of years. But how do I get so in love with him?? Please can you help me.

This could possibly be my favorite Mailbag question ever. How can I love Jesus more? What a sweet and precious thought. I should be asking that question every day. We all should.

The first thing you will have to determine in your own heart, through prayer and study of the Word, is exactly what you mean by your question. Do you mean:

“I’m a Christian, but I consistently have no affection for Christ whatsoever. I just don’t really care about Him one way or the other, but I see other Christians who seem to genuinely love Him. How can I get those feelings for Jesus?”

or:

“I’m a Christian. I love Christ, but I want to develop an even greater love for Him. How do I do that?”.

If your meaning is closer to the first question, I would counsel you to examine yourself to see if you are truly saved as 2 Corinthians 13:5 instructs us. Someone who has genuinely been born again should have some sort of affinity, love, gratitude, and affection for Christ because of who He is and all He has done for her. If you honestly don’t give a flip about Jesus, that’s a big red flag signaling that you might not be saved, even if you think you are. I would strongly recommend working through my Bible study Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up as well as setting up an appointment with your pastor, a trusted, spiritually mature Christian friend, or a biblical counselor for counseling.

If you’ve compared your heart and life to Scripture and you’re certain you’re a genuinely regenerated Christian who wants to grow in the love she already has for Jesus, it’s simple. Just do what His Word says:

Study Your Bible

I would urge you to put away all of the “canned” studies (books, DVDs, etc. written by others) and simply pick up your Bible, choose a book, start at the beginning, and work your way through to the end. I cannot stress enough how much more rewarding studying the Bible for yourself is than relying on someone else’s materials, and how much closer it will draw you to Christ. If you’ve never studied the Bible on your own before, try taking notes on the text, or use one of my studies (see the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page) as “training wheels” to get started. Here are a few other resources that may help:

Bible Study Articles and Resources

10 Simple Steps to Plain Vanilla Bible Study

Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

Pray

You can’t grow in your love for Someone you’re not spending time with. Set aside a designated, uninterrupted time of prayer each day in which you can take all the time you need to pour out your heart to God, worship Him, praise Him, and thank Him. But talk to the Lord throughout the day, too. “Lord, I have to discipline my child right now. Help me do it in a godly way.” “Father, thank you that these peaches I needed were on special today!” “I see Julie coming toward my office. Lord, she’s so hard to love. Please help me show her Your kindness.”

Resources on Prayer

Basic Training: 8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Learning to Pray from the People of Scripture (a 12 lesson Bible study on prayer)

After this Manner, Therefore Pray

Can We Talk?

Be a Faithful Church Member

Find a doctrinally sound church that preaches and teaches the Bible well. Become a member. Faithfully attend worship service and Sunday School (aka: small group, Bible study, etc.) each week unless an emergency comes up. Find a place to serve, and get plugged in. Make friends with other members of your church and spend time in fellowship with them outside of church activities. Being fed the Word, serving the Body of Christ, and bonding with brothers and sisters in Christ will build your love for Him.

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

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

Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Remind yourself of what Jesus did for you – the sin He saved you out of, the forgiveness, cleansing, and peace He freely gave you, the power the indwelling Holy Spirit gives you to resist sin and walk in holiness, the home in Heaven He has promised you.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

That’s what Jesus did for you. You. How could you not love Him more and more every time you think about that?

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

Be Thankful

Make it a habit to thank God for things throughout the day, especially the things you often take for granted. Can you read? Do you have enough food to eat and clean water to drink? Do you own a Bible in your native language? Do you have a car? Clothes to wear? Family and friends? Air conditioning? Chocolate?

Everything good in your life, every blessing you experience, comes to you straight from the hand of God. Think about what you really deserve for your sin and rebellion against God. Then think about the fact that He not only sacrificed His precious Son for you, but that He continues to bless you abundantly. Every thing you thank God for is just another reason to love Him more deeply.

Top 10 Bible Verses on Giving Thanks

25 Things I Forgot to Thank God For

Give it Time and Be Patient

My husband and I have been married for over 25 years. Everything I feel about him – my love, trust, respect, admiration, everything – has grown deeper since the day I married him. But it has taken years of walking through “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health” together to get to where I am in my love for him today. And if God blesses us with more years together, my love for my husband will continue to grow beyond where it is today.

It’s the same way with your love for Christ. Developing a deep, mature love for Him doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. There are going to be “for better” days and “for worse” days, but if you continue walking with Him – studying His Word, praying, investing your life in the church, remembering all He has done for you, and being thankful – over the years, your love for Christ will continue to grow and grow.


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.

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The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs

Originally published September 7, 2020

I get lots of great questions, and sometimes, they’re the same questions from lots of different people. So I thought today it would be fun, instead of answering just one person’s question, to answer lots of people’s questions. Here are the top 10 Mailbag questions readers most frequently ask:

1.

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

The best way to find out if I’ve written anything on a particular teacher is to put her name (make sure you spell it correctly) into the search bar, which is located at the bottom of every page of the blog. You can also check the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab and the Recommended Bible Teachers tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) to see if the teacher’s name is located there.

If you need answers on a certain teacher right away, and I haven’t written anything about her, you will need to do the research yourself, which is a skill every Christian needs to hone anyway. (You should never just take my, or anybody else’s, word for it that a particular teacher is/isn’t trustworthy.) In case you need a little help getting started, I’ve described how I do my research, complete with some quick litmus tests and shortcuts in my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own

If I haven’t written an article about a teacher you see as problematic who’s reaching a wide audience, you’re welcome to send me her name along with any links you may have to her unbiblical teaching or behavior. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.

2.

“Can you recommend a good
women’s/children’s/teens/particular topic Bible study?”

No. On principle, I do not recommend what I call “canned” (book, workbook, DVD, etc.) Bible studies- not even doctrinally sound ones. The church has become so utterly dependent on books and materials written by others that the majority of evangelicals have no idea how to simply pick up the Bible and study or teach straight from the text of Scripture. I may be the only one to stand against that tide, but I’m standing against it. We need to, as a general practice, cut out the middleman and get back to learning and teaching straight from the Bible itself.

If studying or teaching directly from Scripture is new to you, I would encourage you to check out the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, which explains more about my philosophy of Bible study and provides numerous resources to help you learn how to study or teach the Bible itself.

One of the resources you’ll find is all of the Bible studies I’ve written. They are all free for individual and group use, and you are welcome to print out as many copies as you need. My studies are learn-by-doing “training wheels” that teach you: how to study/teach the Bible in a systematic way, the kinds of things you should be noticing in the text, the kinds of questions you should be asking of the text, and how the various parts of the Bible fit together to tell God’s grand story of redemption through Christ. Work through a study or two. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be ready to unbolt those training wheels and study or teach on your own without needing to rely on anyone else’s materials any more – even mine.

Here are a few additional resources:

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.”

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

3.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher]
for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Sorry, but that’s not what the Bible says. The question isn’t, “Why am I warning against them?”. The question is, “Why aren’t you?”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

4.

I’m trying to find a doctrinally sound church. Can you help me?

It is my delight to help my brothers and sisters find a solid church. Please check out the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

If you’re newly saved and/or coming out of the New Apostolic Reformation, prosperity gospel, New Age, Catholicism, Mormonism, etc., I would strongly recommend reading through all of the resources in the “What to look for in a church” section of that tab before beginning your search for an actual church. You need to know what makes a church doctrinally sound (or not), and those resources can help.

Notice that there are multiple church search engines at the top of that tab. If you don’t find something in your area at the first search engine, go to the next one, and keep going until you’ve exhausted all of them.

Keep in mind that doctrinally sound churches are becoming scarcer and scarcer. You may have to drive longer than you’d like to get to one. It may not meet all your preferences. You might have to try a different denomination than you’re used to. The most doctrinally sound church you can find within achievable driving distance may have a few biblical “warts” (for example: a generally solid preaching/teaching church but the women’s ministry uses materials by false teachers). It is possible that God may put you in that less than perfect church to sanctify you, or for you to help bring about biblical change.

Sometimes people e-mail me asking if I can help them find a church. Your best bet is really to use all of the resources at the “Searching for a new church” tab. I want to reassure you that, unlike Walmart, I don’t have any churches in the back store room that haven’t been stocked yet. Everything I have is out on the shelves at that tab. :0)1 However, if you’ve made a good faith effort at the “Searching…” tab and have exhausted all of the resources there, you’re welcome to drop me an e-mail, let me know what area you’re in, and I’ll ask around on social media. Just be aware that this is a last ditch effort and if you weren’t able to find anything at the “Searching…” tab, it’s unlikely any of my followers will have a lead for you. We’ll give it a shot, but it may be time to take advantage of the “Church Planting” section of that tab.

1At the moment I am “over stocked” on churches (from my recent request for recommendations). I still have almost 70 churches to individually vet for the “Recommended Churches” list. I promise I’m getting them “out on the shelf” as quickly as I can, and I appreciate your patience.

5.

The leadership at my church is kicking off a new Bible study using materials by a false teacher. What should I do?

It breaks my heart that this is, indeed, a frequently asked question. Please see my article The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?.

6.

My church uses …
or
I’m looking for a new church,
and I found one that’s really sound, except they use…
Bethel / Jesus Culture / Hillsong / Elevation music
or other music from heretical sources.
What should I do?

Please see my article The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?. You can find information about Bethel, et al at the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Some other resources that may be helpful:

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

The Mailbag: Potpourri (“Potty Prayers,” Women as Children’s/Worship Pastors, Solid churches with heretical music, Eternal Security)– See section 3. (I urge all pastors, elders, and ministers of music to read this.)

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

7.

My friend is following a false teacher. How can I help her see this? 

Here are some resources that can help:

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones – at A Word Fitly Spoken (many additional resources linked here)

Words With Friends by Amy Spreeman

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher 

8.

Whaddaya mean women can’t preach to men? Of course they can!

Again, sorry, but that’s not what the Bible says. I would strongly encourage you to read all of the articles in my Rock Your Role series, which examines the Scriptures dealing with the role of women in the church. (Remember, for Christians, God’s Word is our authority, not our feelings, opinions, and preferences.) I would suggest starting with these:

Jill in the Pulpit

Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian

Rock Your Role FAQs

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

9.

Why isn’t Teacher X listed at your Popular False Teachers tab?
Does the fact that she’s not listed mean she’s doctrinally sound?
Why isn’t Teacher Y listed at your Recommended Bible Teachers tab? Does the fact that she’s not listed mean she’s a false teacher?

Please understand that these are not comprehensive lists of every false teacher or doctrinally sound teacher in existence. There are thousands of both, so that would be impossible. Also, don’t jump to conclusions about any teacher who’s not on the list. The absence of a particular teacher’s name on either list says nothing definitive about whether or not I would recommend that teacher.

The articles I’ve written about false teachers have mainly been in response to readers inquiring about them. In other words, if you don’t see a particular teacher’s name on the list, it’s probably because I haven’t been asked about her, I’ve been asked about her but haven’t had time to get to it yet, or for one of the reasons below.

The teachers on the recommended teachers list are those I’ve personally listened to or read at enough length that I feel comfortable endorsing them. Most of the teachers on the list trend toward being Calvinistic/Reformed and cessationist because I believe this is the most biblically correct view of Scripture, and because, in my experience, those of these persuasions are generally more discerning about associating with false teachers, and more expository in their teaching. (Of course there are some non-Calvinist/Reformed pastors and teachers who are stellar in these areas. I’ve had the privilege of knowing a few personally.)

There are a few other reasons you might not see someone’s name on either the false teachers or the recommended teachers lists:

• My articles on false teachers are nearly always about teachers: who are well known (thus the “Popular” in “Popular False Teachers”), who women in my particular audience – average American evangelical women – are most likely to follow, and whose materials are being used in those average American evangelical women’s churches. It takes multiple hours of research to vet teachers, and I have to invest those hours into the teachers who are deceiving the greatest numbers women in my audience.

• I don’t tend to write articles on teachers who are so blatantly heretical and/or are so well known for being heretical that it should be obvious (unless I feel there’s some compelling reason to do so). This is why you won’t see, for example, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, or Nadia Bolz-Weber on the false teachers list. Kenneth and Benny are fairly well known for being prosperity gospel heretics, and a 30 second Google search should make it obvious to most Christians who aren’t already familiar with her that Nadia is a liberal heretic. And, again, your average American evangelical woman isn’t following people like this, and her church isn’t using their materials.

• Normally, I don’t write about contemporary teachers who are dead, especially if they’re not particularly popular with my demographic. This is why you don’t see names like Billy Graham or David Wilkerson on the list.

10.

I have a dire and complicated family/marriage/church situation,
can you help me?
Can you mentor/disciple me?

I deeply wish I could answer “yes” to all of these inquiries. I’m a helper. I want to help people. But I also know that in most of these situations, I’m not the right person for the job. So my answer to these inquiries has to be “no”. I cannot engage in counseling or discipling/mentoring relationships via e-mail.

The first reason for this is that my primary duty before the Lord is to care for my husband and children, to manage my household, and to be a faithful church member. That takes a lot of time and energy. And if you’ve ever read my e-mail policy, you know I don’t even have time to answer most of the e-mails I receive, let alone the time that’s required to properly disciple, mentor, or counsel someone through a difficult circumstance.

But the second reason I’m not the right person for the job is that all of these are the job of the local church. It’s not right for me to get between you and your pastor when you need counsel or between you and an older sister at your church when you need to be discipled. You need someone who can walk with you, face to face, for the long haul, through these situations. Relying on me would be cheating yourself out of connecting with the person at your church who could be there for you the best and help you the most.

And, finally, especially in dire counseling situations such as abuse, extreme marital problems, or complex issues at church, I’m not familiar with the laws and resources in your area, I’m only hearing your side of the story, I’m not getting all of the details, etc. Your pastor or an older sister at church is there. They can better help you navigate the intricacies of the situation and provide you with more effective solutions than I can.


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.