Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Waterford, California Conference

I had a super time last week sharing with the wonderful ladies of Waterford, California, at First Southern Baptist Church’s women’s conference.

This was my first time traveling to northern California, and I’m indebted to everyone who took the time to show me around and tell me all about the things that make this area of the country so special, especially Pastor Greg, and the delightful couple who hosted me in their home, Lisa and Curt.

The Waterford area is covered with almond and walnut groves. This is a picturesque almond grove across the street from Curt and Lisa’s house.

Another of Curt and Lisa’s neighbors has recently acquired a few llamas. Aren’t they cute! Don’t worry, we didn’t get close enough for them to spit on us. (When I posted one of these pictures on social media, several folks corrected me that these are alpacas, not llamas. I’m no expert, and that may very well be, but here’s what I read that led me to the llama label. If I’m wrong, I stand corrected! :0)

Curt is the head of South Blossom Designs. He crafts phenomenal cutting boards, chopping blocks, serving boards, and other specialty artisan wood items. Go get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

These are some of the awesome hostess gifts and snacks from the ladies of FSBC. Those walnuts are straight from a local grove and were so fresh! And, of course, Cheerwine is my favorite, and is hard to come by where I live.

Friday night of the conference kicked off with a delicious steak dinner grilled by the fantastic men of FSBC. I also want to put a word in for one of the drink options, which was a cocktail of cranberry juice, Hawaiian Punch, and Sprite. That was super good.

And check out these lovely decorations:

Next up was our first teaching session: The Authority, Sufficiency, and Necessity of Scripture. God’s Word is vital to our lives as Christian women, sufficient to instruct us in the ways of life and godliness, and we are beholden to Scripture as the ultimate authority over our lives.

Saturday morning, after the ladies were treated to breakfast, it was time to get down to business with session two of the conference: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways.

Our final session was a stimulating Q&A with lots of insightful questions. These ladies know their stuff! Afterward, it was fun getting to chat with several of the attendees:


When I travel, instead of buying souvenirs, I like to try whatever food is iconic to that area (clam chowder in Cape Cod, Chicago-style pizza, etc.). California doesn’t really have a specific iconic food, but In-N-Out is pretty close for me because I always see people raving about it online, and we don’t have In-N-Out here in Louisiana. So, for a special post-conference treat, Lisa took me to In-N-Out so I could see what all the fuss was about.

My verdict (the short version): It was good, but 5 Guys (which we do have here) is just as good. (You can check out the slightly longer version here.)

I also got to try some northern California style Mexican food (which is different from the southern New Mexico style Mexican food I grew up on and the Tex-Mex Louisiana offers), which was excellent, and a delectable Latin dish called Chipotle Milanesa at Cafe Bravo in Oakdale.

All too soon, it was time to head back home. I even got a few good pictures from the plane:

Looks like some of the mountains already got a light dusting of snow.

Considering our flight plan, I’m almost sure this is part of the Grand Canyon. It’s kind of hard to tell from the pictures, I guess. And, I didn’t get a picture of it, but I saw a dam that sure looked like it was the Hoover Dam, which also would have been in keeping with our flight plan. Besides Tiger Stadium all lit up at night at LSU, those are the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a plane.

Nothing special, and the lighting is terrible, I just really like the geometric pattern of these circular, square and triangular fields.

Many thanks to Pastor Greg, Lisa, Curt, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of FSBC who worked so hard to put on a great conference and made me feel so at home. If you’re ever in the Waterford, California, area, be sure to stop by and visit First Southern Baptist Church of Waterford.


If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits

Photo of chopping block courtesy of South Blossom Designs.

All photos and videos of Michelle by Lisa Cowan.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Discernment, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ The Perilous Parable of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Tickle

Originally published January 27, 2013

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Once upon a time, there was a college student who was majoring in engineering. Let’s call her Brie. (Why? No particular reason except that I’m hungry and I happen to like cheese. But back to our story.)

One of the pre-requisite classes Brie had to take for her major was calculus. Brie had heard about the various calculus professors at her university. Some were tough. Some were boring. A few had a reputation for being easy.

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Brie knew she did not want to take calculus from Dr. Shepherd. Although she had some friends who had taken his class and really seemed to know their stuff, calculaically speaking, they had told her that he demanded excellence of his students, had a no qualms about flunking students who weren’t trying and didn’t know the material, and gave regular—and challenging— homework and tests.

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Brie was leaning more towards Dr. Tickle. Everybody said she was really nice and cared warmly for her students. She wasn’t a stickler about deadlines for assignments, taught in a funny and entertaining way, and –most importantly for Brie—didn’t believe in tests. Brie hated tests.

All of the sections of Dr. Tickle’s classes usually filled up quickly, so Brie wasted no time registering, and, happily, secured a spot. She knew she’d made the right choice when, on the first day of class, Dr. Tickle started the lesson off with a one woman skit. She filled the rest of the class period with jokes and inspiring personal stories about her own days as an engineering major. No formulas. No notes. They didn’t even crack the spines on their new text books. Brie felt completely at home and comfortable in Dr. Tickle’s class.

About half way through the semester, Brie was regaling her friend, Tess, with a joke Dr. Tickle had told in class that day. Tess giggled at the punch line, but then her brow furrowed.

“Wow, you’re really taking Dr. Tickle for calculus?” Tess asked.

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“Sure,” replied Brie, “I love her class. Why?”

“Well, I took her calculus class for a few weeks. Dr. Tickle didn’t really teach much actual math. And even when she did teach us a little bit about how to work some of the problems, I checked my notes against the book, and she had completely botched it. She had left out parts of the formulas, and some of the other things she taught us were the exact opposite of what the book said. If I had stayed in her class, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the upper level classes I’m taking now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be graduating. I’d really recommend that you drop Dr. Tickle’s class and take calculus from a good professor who knows what he’s doing. I took Dr. Shepherd’s class. He’s tough, but he’s a great teacher.”

“What?!?! How can you say that about Dr. Tickle? I leave her class every day feeling great about calculus! Not once has she ever made me feel uncomfortable or stressed about my calculations. She’s so understanding and kind, and I love the fun way she teaches. I thought you were my friend, Tess, and I thought you were a nice person, too. How could you say such mean things about Dr. Tickle?

“I am your friend, Brie! I want you to be able to understand calculus properly so you’ll do well in the tougher classes that come later. I want to see you graduate with high marks and become a great engineer. I’m trying to help you!”

“Well, I think Dr. Tickle is a great teacher, and I really enjoy her class,” Brie responded coolly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

There are Dr. Shepherds and Dr. Tickles on church campuses, too. God has not called pastors to stand in the pulpit and tickle your ears with jokes and stories. Nor has He called them to make the Bible and his sermons all about you and your self esteem, your dreams, your health, or your lust for material things. God has called pastors to:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

If you have a Tess in your life who is warning you that a pastor, teacher, or author you’re following is a false teacher, don’t react like Brie did. What if your friend is right? Do you really want to follow a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or do you want to follow a Dr. Shepherd who will give you the truth of God’s word even if it’s difficult? Check him out. Where? Here are some resources:

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

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 13

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Read Judges 16

Questions to Consider

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

2. Read verses 1-5. So far – that we know of (see lesson 12, link above) – Samson has gone against the wishes of his parents, married a pagan wife, broken his Nazirite vow, exhibited “hot anger” and personal vengeance, abandoned his wife, fornicated with a prostitute, fornicated with Delilah, and is about to lie multiple times (10, 13, 15). Why did God elevate someone so sinful to the position of judge over His people? Why did God use someone like that in His righteous purpose of delivering His people from the enemy, and to point ahead to Christ? Why would God commend someone like that by naming him in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11?

Why does God use you or me? Why does He continue to show us mercy when we continue to sin? Does the fact that God uses someone to accomplish His purposes mean He condones or overlooks that person’s sin? Can you think of any other instances in Scripture in which God used an unrepentant sinner or a pagan nation to accomplish His purposes? Examples of this from history? In your own life or the life of someone you know?

Compare the picture Judges paints of Samson and his sin to the picture Scripture paints of David and his sin. What similarities do you see? What differences?

What was God’s purpose (5) in Samson pulling up the gate and posts and carrying them to the top of the hill (3)?

3. Read 4-22. If Samson had not chosen to sin by shacking up with Delilah, would he have found himself in the position of feeling he had to lie to her, being betrayed by her, and having his life endangered by the Philistines? It has been said (and sung) that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, and sin will cost you more than you want to pay.” Explain this “snowball effect” of sin. How was this true in Samson’s life? Has this ever been true in your life? Have you repented?

How does this passage demonstrate this biblical truth: Trusting in the pleasures of this world and giving your heart away to this world (17-18) brings death, but trusting in the Lord and giving your heart away to the Lord brings life. Which Scriptures argue for this idea?

How could 2 Timothy 2:21-22 have been helpful instruction to Samson? How can this passage apply to your own life?

What does verse 20 mean when it says “the Lord had left him”? Why did the Lord leave him? Is this, as well as what the Philistines did to Samson (21, 24, 25), the logical, natural, and biblical consequence for his sin?

4. Read 23-31. Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to bring reproach upon the name of God in the eyes of pagans by sinning. Explain how Samson’s sin ruined his witness to the Philistines of the one true God and gave them opportunity to mock both Samson and God. Take a moment to imagine what Samson’s life and witness might have been like if he had spent his life pursuing holiness, loving God, and desiring to please Him.

Have you ever ruined your gospel witness to someone by sinning? Have you repented? What could you have done differently in that situation to glorify God with your words or actions in the eyes of the other person(s)?

What was Samson’s stated motive for wanting to kill the Philistines? (28) Was this a selfish or godly motive? What should his motive have been? Have we ever seen Samson pray or call out to God before verse 28 (see lesson 12, link above), or did Samson tend to act on his own volition in the flesh? How does 28-30 demonstrate that Samson’s humbling himself and acknowledging God led to his greatest victory: dying to self, and destroying the enemy?

5. Imagine you’re one of Samson’s brothers (31), and you’ve been given the task of giving his eulogy at the funeral. What would you say about Samson and his life? How could you use his life to point unbelieving funeral attendees to Christ?

6. Compare and contrast Gideon’s (lesson 6, link above) weakness and fear to Samson’s strength and arrogance. Which man’s condition led him to depend more greatly on the Lord? What were the results of Gideon’s dependence on the Lord versus Samson’s self-reliance? How do these two men help demonstrate the spiritual paradox of strength in weakness?

7. How did Samson’s miraculous physical strength point upward to God’s infinite and omnipotent strength?

8. Is the story of Samson a story about how great Samson was, how great a sinner Samson was, or how a great God showed great mercy to a great sinner? Think about this in terms of your own life story.


Homework

  • Certainly, all have sinned, sin is lawlessness, failing in even one point of the law makes us guilty of it all, and we have no righteousness of our own to boast in. Understanding all of that, is it right, biblical, and fair to view someone who loves Christ and lives her life to please Him, yet occasionally falls into sin, demonstrates godly grief over it, repents, and flees from it, as being in the same category, spiritually, as someone who lives to please himself and doesn’t really care whether or not he sins? Why or why not? Support your answer from Scripture.

    Which category do you think Samson was in? Which category are you in? If you think it might be the second category, I would urge you to examine yourself and consider whether or not you’ve truly been born again. Scripture is clear that those who unrepentantly persist in sin are not saved. You may wish to review the gospel and work through my study Am I Really Saved? A First John Check-Up.
  • In question 3 above, I said Samson “felt he had to” lie to Delilah. For Christians, would God ever put us in a position in which we have to lie? Back up your answer from Scripture, not circumstances. How could Samson have answered Delilah without lying? Have you ever been in a situation in which you “felt you had to” lie? How could you have answered instead? Were you in that situation due to the “snowball effect” of sin? Listen to this episode of the Truth Be Known podcast: Is Lying Always Sinful?

Suggested Memory Verse

Speaking Engagements

Upcoming Events: Ladies, You’re Invited!

Looking for a super, doctrinally sound women’s event to attend? Let me tell you about a few I’ve got coming up soon!

Virginia

Yes, Virginia, there is a doctrinally sound women’s conference coming soon! Join me, October 22-23 in Faber, Virginia, for Pop Up Church’s conference on Biblical Womanhood!

We’ll get things kicked off Friday night with dinner at 5:30. Then, at 7:00, we’ll take a look at God’s unique design for biblical womanhood in our first teaching session. God ingeniously created us differently from men because His creation wasn’t complete without womanhood in the world.

Saturday morning, we’ll get started with doughnuts, coffee, and fellowship at 9:00. At 10:00, you’ll learn how to rock your role as a godly woman, walking out biblical womanhood in your day to day life. And, at 11:00, if you’ve got questions, I’ve (hopefully!) got answers – get ready for an awesome Q&A session to round out the day!

This conference is open to women in the surrounding areas, but registration is required. Register by scanning the QR code or texting the number on the ticket above, or by visiting the conference website.

Tennessee

My last event for 2021 is the Walk in the Word women’s conference at New Prospect Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Join me November 5-6 for a buffet of topics that are sure to equip and encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

In our session on Biblical Womanhood, we’ll explore the beauty and value in God’s Creative design for women and the roles He has set aside for us.

Are you Hooked on a Feeling – living life according to your feelings and emotions? This session is all about biblical and practical ways to live according to God’s Word instead.

Suffering – everybody goes through it at some point. This session teaches us to look to Jesus, the hero of our suffering, so we can take hope in our suffering, and biblically handle our suffering.

What does it mean to pursue Holiness? In this session we’ll take a look at how the Bible defines holiness and how to practice holiness in your daily life.

This conference is open to women in the surrounding areas, but you must contact the church directly for details. See the information on the image above, or visit the NPBC website. Tickets are $25 each and cover the conference, materials, refreshments, and lunch on Saturday.

NEW!
North Carolina

On January 8, 2022, I’ll be speaking live via Zoom at Church of the Open Door’s quarterly Sister 2 Sister meeting. If you’re in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area, you’re welcome to attend the 2:00-4:30 meeting, but you must contact the church directly for details.

During my part of the program, I’ll be giving a 30 minute mini-session on Discernment. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We’ll take a look at what the Bible says, plus some practical tips. A 30 minute mini-Q&A will follow, so get ready to fire away with your questions!

Come on out for an afternoon of fun, fellowship, and edification!

NEW!
California

California, here I come…again! This time, I’ll be speaking at the Women’s Advance Conference at Agape Bible Church in Willits, California. Come join us, January 28-29, 2022!

This year’s conference is going to be focused on Suffering. Maybe that sounds like kind of a depressing theme for a conference, but it’s actually very encouraging. In our first three sessions we’ll focus on Jesus, the Suffering Servant, as our perfect example in suffering, what the Bible has to say about suffering in our lives, rejoicing in suffering, and responding biblically to suffering. No doubt many questions will arise, so we’ll wrap things up in our fourth session with a Q&A.

Ladies from the surrounding area are invited to attend, but you must contact the church directly for details.

It’s time to schedule me
for your 2022 event, so…

…for more information on an event near you, or to schedule me for your own event, check out my
calendar of events and booking information on my
Speaking Engagements page.

Hope to see you soon!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: When is it OK to leave a church that’s begun embracing false doctrine?

Originally published September 12, 2016

The elders and pastor of my church have made it clear that they aren’t interested in my husband’s and my concerns about, among other problems, a new women’s study (by a false teacher) starting this month. He told me he would read the articles I sent him but that I was wrong. Is it OK to leave this church, and, if so, when? How long do we wait and not see change?

That’s a great question, and I’m afraid there’s no “one size fits all” answer. When a church begins slipping, biblically, and there’s a Christian in that church who’s wise and discerning enough to see it, God has put that Christian in that church to help biblically solve that problem, or at least to serve as a prophetic warning as to what God’s Word says about the issue and what will happen if the church does not correct its course.

Our very first priority in this situation is prayer. We must pray fervently for God to change the hearts of the pastors and other leaders, for wisdom to know how to best approach the problem scripturally, and for God to give us wisdom about how long to stay and when to leave. (For us married ladies, that decision ultimately falls to our husbands, so we need to be praying for them, too.)

When you’ve done what you can to help biblically solve the problem(s) and have consistently been rebuffed (and it sounds like that’s about where you and your husband are with this church), it may be time to leave. It is perfectly biblical to leave a church that is embracing false doctrine despite scriptural warnings (Titus 3:10-11, Romans 16:17-18, 2 John 9-11, 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, Mark 6:11, Matthew 7:6).

Sometimes, God will make it exceedingly clear as to when you should leave because the church will ask you to leave or, in some way, make it impossible for you to stay.

It sounds like you and your husband have tried to help this church. Just continue to pray for your church and its leadership, and for wisdom (especially for your husband) about staying or leaving. Then trust God to direct you (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If you do end up having to leave, make sure you immediately begin your search for a doctrinally sound church to attend. No church is perfect, but we need to obey God’s mandate to be faithful members of a local body of believers.

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

The Mailbag: How to Leave a Church

Searching for a new church?


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.