Guest Post: Moving Off the Sure Foundation

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If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

Moving Off The Sure Foundation
by Kerri Sheldon

The authoritative rule for Christian belief and practice is Scripture – pure and sound. It should be the church’s first say, only say, and final say. If the truth within Scripture is compromised, then by default, the new norm will become muddled thinking and false teaching. Such a compromise will transpire when biblical truths are subtly displaced by other ideas that perhaps on the surface appear innocuous, but with further consideration are found to be a diversion from truth.

Unfortunately, such a shift is happening today among evangelical circles at an increasing rate. A prime illustration is seen when a church has a statement of faith that includes something like, “We believe in the sole authority of Scripture for faith and practice,” yet they have practically abandoned that stance by allowing false teachings to enter in, whether deliberately or indirectly. If Scripture is really their authority, as they say, it should be in actuality, not just in statement. Sometimes it can be more telling to view a church’s list of current studies to know if they truly adhere to God’s Word.

Let’s turn our attention to a few specific examples of untrue teachings that have entered the visible church, making way for a foundational swing.

Hearing God’s Voice

It is quite possible you have heard the phrase “hearing God’s voice,” whether from some teacher or in conversation. Upon hearing such an expression, we should ask ourselves what the person means. Are they saying they were reading the Bible and the Holy Spirit illuminated the truth meaning of the text to their minds? Perhaps that is what they mean. But generally when the phrase is used it means something quite different. Authors Henry and Richard Blackaby, as well as teachers Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, to name a few, typically use it to convey the concept that God’s voice is heard when one opens themselves up or learns through experience apart from and outside of Scripture. Keep in mind they might affirm that God’s voice is heard only in Scripture. However, in reality, usually the idea is that one should hear fresh inner promptings or whispers that are not found in the Bible. In fact, they suggest that to hear God’s voice immediately and directly is fresher and greater than simply reading and studying His Word. Do you see why this teaching is so deceptive? It is not because of what is actually stated – to hear God’s voice, but because of what is not stated – how, when, and where to hear God’s voice. The truth is that Christians are commanded to read, study, memorize, believe, and obey God’s Word, not to listen for a voice. It is in the hearing and illumination of the Word that the Spirit then promises to be with us, guiding and empowering us, as we simply walk by faith.

Experiencing God

“Experiencing God” is another commonly heard theme. The idea is associated with having fresh encounters with God. An example can be seen in the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Young states, “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more…” (p. xi) What is this “more” for which Young longs? Is it for more of the Bible? It is not presented that way. Implicit in her statement is the desire for a personal encounter or direct experience with the Living God that is beyond, or other than through, the Word of God.

Should Christians desire to personally encounter God based on their own devices or whims? Is this even attainable? Mystics would answer “yes.” They believe that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience as intuition or insight. But the believers’ “experiencing” of God is a knowing of God through His means – the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The eternal invisible God is unknowable to fallen and rebellious sinners apart from His own provision for them. Unfortunately, when someone wishes to experience God directly they will be operating from worldly or sensual desires. Let’s remember what one of the more prolific writers and theologians of the 20th century, Francis Schaeffer, said: “We must stress that the basis for our faith is neither experience nor emotion, but the truth as God has given it: in verbalized, propositional form in the Scripture and which we first of all apprehend with our mind – though, of course, the whole man must act upon it.”

Benjamin Warfield, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, explained the difference between biblically “experiencing” God and mystical experience, in The Biblical Review, Volume 2, 1917: “Evangelical Christianity interprets all religious experience by the normative revelation of God recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, and guides, directs, and corrects it from these Scriptures, and thus molds it into harmony with what God in His revealed Word lays down as the normal Christian life. The mystic, on the other hand, tends to substitute his religious experience for the objective revelation of God recorded in the written Word, as the source from which he derives his knowledge of God, or at least to subordinate the expressly revealed Word as the less direct and convincing source of knowledge of God to his own religious experience. The result is that the external revelation is relatively depressed in value, if not totally set aside.”

One of the more prominent people who introduced experience-based emphases and techniques into the visible church was author Richard Foster. His book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth took the church world by storm when first published in 1978 (from which the below quotes are taken). It is about the quest for spirituality based on the inner workings of the soul and spiritual techniques. Interestingly, Foster was raised a Quaker. They believe in the “inward light.” To give you a taste of Foster’s book the following quotes are given:

The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. (p. 22)

Another meditation aimed at centering oneself begins by concentrating on breathing…become silent outwardly and inwardly. Be attentive to the inward living Christ…then listen once again. (p.25)

You can see Foster believes that imagination, meditation, and the quest for the “inward Christ” are the new mediation before God. Of course that is absolutely not biblical, and is in contrast to the “outward” light who invaded our world of darkness in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He and His Word are the Light having come into our darkened lives. Not long after Foster’s book, a new seminary category of study was born – spiritual formations. It is quite a conglomeration of teachings in most seminaries these days.

The Cosmic Christ

Another false thought that has entered into evangelicalism is that of a Romantic and/or Cosmic Christ. It says God comes to us “in stuff” (like the creation) and that we need “spiritual eyes” to see Him there. But does Christ make Himself known personally through the creation? No, the true God reigns transcendent over His creation and made Himself personally known in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. Yet many are flocking to such authors as Ann Voskamp who writes in her book One Thousand Gifts, “Do I have eyes to see His face in all things…” (p.112). This is a new-age concept in that there is an ever present deity in the creation. It is not talking of the real Jesus, the One who became flesh and dwelt among us and died and was raised again and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. If you want that Christ, you should stick with only the Scriptures.

The End of this Present Evil Age

Unfortunately, the introduction of many false teachers and false doctrines as mentioned here has been “winked at” by most evangelical leaders. This is not ok. If we move even slightly off a biblical foundation, where does that take us? In Acts 20:17-38 we read of Paul’s ministry to the elders of Ephesus and his emphasis in that ministry. True shepherds warn the flock of such impending dangers just like Paul. In light of this, we must not overlook the very nature of the end of this present evil age. Remember what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2. He warns that there would be a falling away from the faith led by the man of sin. In the midst of the church at the end of the age a beast will arise and be the catalyst of a false church and the world’s final rebellion against the God of the Scriptures. The spirit of antichrist starts in the visible church and the final apostasy will be no exception. For saints who are alive, it will be very costly to maintain a faithful testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ in the environment of both the visible apostate church and the fallen world.

But our ultimate hope is eternal and will be revealed when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself returns on that glorious day of His revelation! Until then, we should be on guard even while sitting in a church pew and wait patiently with watchful eye and prayerful hearts.


This article is drawn, in part, from Resolute: An Unwavering Stance on the Truth of God’s Word by Kerri Sheldon and her father, David Sheldon. Kerri and David believe that making true disciples of Jesus Christ can only happen when one is presented with sound theological doctrine, and their desire is to help Christians guard against deception and ignite a stance on the Word of God alone. Check out Kerri and David’s website, 4 Truth Ministry and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out the 4 Truth Ministry Facebook page to find out how
you could win a free copy of Resolute!

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The Mailbag: How Should Christians Vote?

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Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6, is election day in the United States. How should Christians vote?

Voting is a privilege, and, for U.S. citizens, a right. I encourage you to use your vote as a godly influence by voting according to biblical principles. My answer to today’s Mailbag question is adapted from my 2008 article, How Should Christians Vote?

 

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Tomorrow is election day. How can we steward our vote in a godly way?

First things first. Christians, especially Christian women, should vote. Not voting would not only be an insult to the sacrifice of the dedicated men and women who have given their lives in the cause of freedom and suffrage over the years that we might have the luxury of having a voice in our governance, but voting is a gift from God. Should we treat this gift lightly by failing to exercise it?

If you have never had the opportunity to visit a country, such as those in the Middle East, in which basic freedoms and women’s rights are limited if in existence at all, I urge you to do so if at all possible. After I returned to the U.S. from a visit to the Middle East a few years ago, I realized just how much we take for granted what an enormous blessing it is that God has seen fit to place us in a land of liberty, abundance, and opportunity. When I vote, I see it as a way of returning thanks to God for the gift of freedom, and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our liberties.

For whom should Christians vote? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whatever we do, we should do all things for the glory of God. “Whatever” and “all things” includes voting. Christians should vote for the person they believe will bring the most glory to God. Considering the candidate options with which we’re often presented, this, at times, seems an impossible task.

How do we know which candidate to vote for? Like all other decisions in a Christian’s life, this one should be governed by God’s leading through prayer and Biblical principles. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) to make a Godly decision.

Study the candidate’s platform and where he stands on each issue. Is he a proponent of anything that clearly conflicts with Scripture? Would he push to legalize or undergird things God calls sin such as abortion or sexual perversion? Does he support the persecution of Christians – denying us freedom of speech or assembly, and taking away the rights of Christians to run their businesses according to biblical principles?  Can we, as Christians– whose goal in life is supposed to be turning from sin and pursuing holiness – knowingly and intentionally disregard the fact that a candidate would stand in favor of sin rather than fighting against it, and give him our support?

Sometimes we lean towards voting for the candidate who would benefit us the most, personally. Perhaps he has promised a tax cut for our particular bracket, or said he would improve the roads we use for traveling to work. In and of themselves, those are good things, but does his platform also include favoring things which would hurt others or be detrimental to the fabric of our society in general? In other words, should a Christian vote for something or someone who will benefit herself at the expense of harming others?

I don’t believe we can do that and remain true to Biblical principles such as:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself;
Romans 15:1-3a

The Bible calls us to the mindset and heart attitude of placing others ahead of ourselves, laying down our lives for others, and doing what’s best for others before we consider what’s best for ourselves.

As is frequently the case these days, the person we vote for, believing he will make the most Christ-like decisions, loses the election. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually pretty disappointed when this happens.

I try to keep it in perspective, though. It’s within the realm of possibility that the person who won the election will get radically saved after taking office and make even more Godly decisions than the other candidate would have made. It’s also possible that he will unintentionally make the decisions God wants him to make for other reasons, such as political expediency or pleasing a particular special interest group. The Bible says in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Not only should we pray before we vote, but we have a Biblical mandate to pray for the winner after the election is over:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4

Above all, we must remember that, while this election and future elections may determine who will sit in the White House, the Congress, or the State House, they do not, nor will they ever, determine who sits on the throne of the universe as King.

Please steward your vote in a godly way. Research the candidates, the issues, and the Scriptures, and vote for the people and proposals that are most aligned with biblical principles.

Additional Resources

The Mormon Moment: Can Christians Biblically Vote for a Mormon? (Depending on the candidates in your district, you may find the principles in this article from the 2012 Presidential election to be helpful.)

Does God expect Christians to vote? at Got Questions

Since God is totally sovereign over world leaders and events, why should we vote or be involved in politics? by John MacArthur

Christians and Politics: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 by John MacArthur

Principles for Voting by R.C. Sproul

Relatable with Allie Stuckey


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.

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

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In the days leading up to Wednesday’s observance of Reformation Day, I directed your attention, in part, to the brave and godly women who played a part in the Protestant Reformation. A few days ago, I shared this post on my Facebook page…

…and asked:

Is the women’s Bible study you’re attending preparing you for something like this?

Of course, when I say, “something like this,” I don’t mean only being executed for your faith. I mean something hard. Life-shattering. Devastating. The loss of your spouse. A stillbirth. Your adult child choosing the prodigal life. A terminal diagnosis. Losing your business or your job because you won’t compromise on Scripture.

And it isn’t just the big, life-altering things, either. What about “smaller” issues like humility, serving without resentment, gratitude, glorifying God instead of self, submitting to your husband, patience, and prioritizing your time in a godly way? What about daily life in general?

Praise God, many women can truthfully answer, “Yes,” to my question. Their churches are training them in the Scriptures and discipling them well so that they can face big or small issues in a godly, biblical way.

But if the best sellers shelf at LifeWay is anything to go by, far more women would have to answer, “No.” Something is wrong in women’s discipleship in the vast majority of evangelical churches. I see the product it creates every day: women who run their lives by their feelings instead of the Word of God, women who believe their own opinions and experiences over Scripture, women who attend every study, every simulcast, every conference, every women’s ministry activity, yet whose lives are devoid of the Fruit of the Spirit.

Our churches have far too many weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6b-7)

And if you’re consistently getting a defective product, you’ve got to trace the problem back down the manufacturing line to find out what’s wrong and fix it so your product won’t be defective any more.

So what’s going wrong on our discipleship assembly line, and what can we do to fix it?

1.
We’re creating false converts instead of true Believers

This is the main reason we see women who can’t or won’t deal with life’s issues – big or small – in a biblical way. They can’t because they’ve never been truly saved, despite what they may claim. And the reason many of them think they’re saved – because they’ve prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, or made a commitment to…something – is that their churches have not taught them the biblical gospel.

The biblical gospel is not “Jesus is a nice accessory to add to your life to make it prettier, like a new purse or bracelet,” or “Jesus will heal you, give you the money you need, or do cool signs and wonders for you,” or “Jesus will help you accomplish your dreams,” or “You’re worthy. You’re enough. Jesus loves you.”

The biblical gospel is raw and startling and offensive: You’re not worthy because you’ve offended a holy God with your sin and rebellion. You deserve death and Hell for your crimes against the King, and there’s nothing you can do to assuage His wrath against you. It is right and good for you to feel guilty and hopeless about that. But because God is good, and worthy, and kind, and merciful, He, in the person of Jesus Christ, took the wrath and punishment you so richly deserve by suffering humiliation and dying on the cross. He endured all of that so you wouldn’t have to. Then He rose again to conquer death so you could live. So He could give you the gift of repentance and faith and credit His righteousness to your account to forgive your sin and make you right with God. You’re not enough. Jesus is enough. And praise God for that!

The Fix:

We need our pastors and teachers to fearlessly and unashamedly proclaim the hard edges of the gospel. We need to train church members to share the gospel correctly. We need to stop reassuring people living in unrepentant sin that they’re saved. If it walks like an unsaved duck and quacks like an unsaved duck, it’s most likely an unsaved duck. And that duck needs to examine herself against Scripture, maybe with the help of a mature sister in Christ, to find out where she stands with the Lord.

Basic Training: The Gospel

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up

2.
We’re dealing drugs instead of fostering joy

If you look out across the landscape of evangelicalism today, you’ll notice the dynamic between women’s ministry and Christian woman bears an eerie resemblance to the dynamic between drug dealer and addict.

Women are hurting or bored or discontent or unsaved, so they bounce from women’s Bible study to women’s ministry activity to women’s fellowship to women’s retreat to get their next hit of Christianese-laced dopamine so they’ll feel better and maybe get a little escape from their circumstances. And Christian retailers, conferences, and often even local churches are right there to peddle the latest designer drug to women who can’t get enough.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing intrinsically bad about any of those activities. In fact, assuming they’re doctrinally sound, they can all be very good things! But if we’re using the emotional high we get from them as a substitute for biblical joy, or if we think those things are the source of joy because that’s the dime bag we’re being sold, that’s spiritually pathological.

The Fix:

Real, biblical, satiating joy doesn’t come from an outward activity. It comes from the inner working, shaping, and sanctification of the Holy Spirit – a concept we’ve got to get across to Christian women. Joy comes from gazing at Creation, the cross, the communion of the saints, and remembering – celebrating – all Christ has done, and will continue to do, for us and in us. Joy comes from repentance and forgiveness from sin. Joy comes from worshiping in spirit and in truth. Joy comes from unity with the brethren. Joy isn’t a temporary injection of happiness, it’s a congenital spiritual trait.

3.
We’re parking women in evangelical daycare instead of giving them spiritual mothers

In most churches, “women’s discipleship” means the church has purchased a divangelista’s DVD and workbook package, and provided a room set up with chairs, a DVD player and monitor, and a woman to “facilitate” the class. It’s the spiritual equivalent of glorified babysitting. The kids might have some fun, be entertained, and enjoy spending time with their friends, but it’s not the same thing as having a mom.

Mom tucks you in at night. Mom listens to your stories. Mom makes you eat your vegetables. Mom kisses your bo-bos. Mom disciplines you when you’ve disobeyed. Mom pours her life into you. Mom is there.

That Christian celebrity on the screen doesn’t even know the women of your church exist. She doesn’t know their names. She can’t comfort them when they’re sad or rejoice with them in their blessings or advise them when they need counsel. And yet, by continually feeding women a diet of celebrity studies, we teach them to idolize and become disciples of this woman they’ll never meet. They’ll never watch her serve in their church. They’ll never observe her walk through trials. They’ll never be able to pour their heart out to her over a cup of coffee or feel her arms in a warm embrace.

Christian women don’t need evangelical daycare, they need spiritual moms.

The Fix:

I know this is going to sound like a bombshell to a lot of people, but you can have a strong, healthy, thriving women’s discipleship ecology in your church without ever setting foot in a Christian bookstore. Without DVDs. Without curricula and workbooks. Because women’s discipleship isn’t about parking them in front of a TV and hoping they get something out of it.

What we need is older women who are trained to teach the Bible and show other women how to study it on their own. Real life, flesh and blood, in-your-own-church spiritual moms who don’t have perfect hair and makeup and designer clothes or sparkle with charisma. Women with a few miles on them who know what it’s like to be broke or have a rebellious child or battle cancer or fight for their marriage, and can walk day by day with other women through their trials. Women who are spiritually mature and can set an example for their spiritual daughters of repentance, evangelism, servanthood, humility, prayer, and kindness. You know, the kind of women Titus 2:3-5 talks about?

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

4.
We’re teaching idolatry of self instead of slavery to Christ

I don’t agree with that.” “That’s just your interpretation.” “That teacher you’re calling a heretic has helped me so much!” “I don’t care what the Bible says, I like/dislike ___.”

IIIMememe. Sometimes it’s because they’re false converts. Sometimes it’s because that’s what the divangelista on the DVD is teaching them. Often, it’s a combination of both. Somewhere down the assembly line, we’re ratcheting up women’s self-esteem with how wonderful they are, that they’re God’s masterpiece, His princess, the pinnacle of awesomeness. By making them disciples of the celebrity they’re watching on the screen, we teach them to value worldly success and fame rather than humility, suffering, and serving. We appeal to women’s fleshly emotions, coddle their self-centered feelings, and in a total misunderstanding of Christian unity, validate their unbiblical opinions and experiences to make sure there’s no controversy or hurt feelings. Is it any wonder we have an abundance of Christian women for whom self reigns supreme? Who think their truth is the truth?

The Fix:

It’s totally natural for self to sit on the throne of an unsaved woman’s heart. If that’s the cause of her self-idolatry, the only solution is the gospel and God opening her heart to receive it.

But we’re doing genuinely regenerated Christian women no favors when we inundate them with homages to self. We already love ourselves too much. We don’t need the church encouraging that, we need the church to help us fight that. And the number one way the church can do that is to stop being afraid.

Stop being afraid of controversy. Stop being afraid to call the names of false teachers who are harming women. Stop being afraid to call sin, sin. Stop being afraid of hurting women’s feelings with biblical truth. Stop being afraid to correct unbiblical theology and opinions. Stop being afraid of an unscriptural definition of disunity and learn what good Christian factions are. Stop being afraid. Fear is not a Fruit of the Spirit nor an appropriate attribute of the church.

Teach women the biblical construct of being slaves of Christ, their good, kind, and merciful Master. Teach them that they are not entitled to any opinions other than their Master’s. They may not hold beliefs contrary to their Master’s Word. They may not think, feel, speak, or act in ways that displease their Master. They are to obey all that their Master has commanded them in His Word. He is the Master. He calls the shots. We are the slaves. We obey.

Basic Training: The Bible is Our Authority

Bad Fruit, Diseased Trees, and the Authority of God’s Word

 

There are so many ways we’re getting women’s discipleship wrong. These four points are just the tip of the proverbial ice berg. We’ve made women’s discipleship a pretty, pink tea party instead of the hard, bloody, call to die that it actually is.

Why aren’t supposedly Christian women prepared to die for Christ? We haven’t prepared them to live for Christ.

And yet…we can! There is hope! We can fearlessly teach women the whole gospel, the whole counsel of God. We can rehab spiritual euphoria addicts and reorient them to biblical joy. We can ditch the DVDs and divangelistas and give women the Christian mothers in their local churches whom they so desperately need. We can devalue self-idolatry and shape and sharpen slaves of Christ.

We can. And it’s guaranteed to work, too. All we have to do is start trusting and obeying God’s Word over man’s methods, and we’ll be getting women’s discipleship right.

Throwback Thursday ~ Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help

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Originally published October 7, 2016suffering-women-false-doctrine

 

Joyce Meyer. Beth Moore. Paula White. Lysa TerKeurst. Christine Caine. What do all of these women have in common?

Yes, they’re all false teachers, but they’re also all victims of sexual abuse.

I haven’t conducted a scientific poll, survey, or longitudinal study, so my observations could be way off base, but I’ve been noticing lately – from hearing these women’s testimonies, reading comments on their blog articles, and talking to women who follow them – that women who have been sexually abused seem to be particularly vulnerable to “feel good” false doctrine.

And it’s not just victims of sexual abuse. It’s women who are suffering from the death of a child or spouse, divorce, infertility, illness, spousal abuse- all of those agonies that strike right at the core of women’s hearts. You’ll find them in droves at the conferences, book signings, and blogs of false teachers.

Why is that?

Because those things hurt. I mean, “I want to crawl under the covers and die,” hurt. “My life is over,” hurt. “An elephant is sitting on my chest and I can’t breathe,” hurt. These precious, beautiful souls God created for joy are walking through something no human being should ever have to experience.

And Satan, that evil beast, is right there to exploit their pain and make things worse by molesting them spiritually. He sends false teachers to whisper sweetly in their ears, “It hurts, doesn’t it? But I can make all that pain go away, now.

Let’s just be honest for a minute. That’s what we all want. I don’t care how doctrinally sound and spiritually mature you are- when excruciating pain explodes into your life, you don’t skip through the tulips to meet it with a smile on your face and a giddy tune on your lips. You just want it to go away. And like a confidence man with a wagon full of snake oil, false teachers are at the ready to offer a magic elixir that will miraculously cure what ails you. Instantly.

“You’re God’s masterpiece- His princess!”

“It’s never God’s will for you to suffer.”

“Just declare the things that are not as though they are!”

“God will give you back what you lost a hundredfold.”

“Sow a seed into my ministry and God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings!”

“Your words create reality. Just speak out what you want and you can have it!”

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper!”

“God wants to do the impossible in your life, so dream big dreams!”

In other words, “Just do or believe X. You’ll feel better and your situation will turn around. I suffered just like you did, and look what God did for me!” The only problem with that kind of teaching is…well…the Bible. The Bible doesn’t make that sort of promise to anyone, in fact it says just the opposite. Jesus promised us tribulationJames, various trialsPaul, persecutionPeter, suffering.

The truth is, since the Fall, we live in a broken, sinful world. We’re going to suffer. It’s often going to be long, painful, and messy. Sometimes, there won’t be a cure this side of Glory. God’s promise to followers of Christ is not that He will eradicate our suffering, but that He will walk through it with us.

So how do we provide chemotherapy for the soul to an anguished woman who just wants a pretty Hello Kitty Band-Aid for her emotions or life circumstances? How do we impart hard, healing truth when she’s being seduced by an easy, deadly lie?

1. Be honest.
Don’t be tempted to “compete” with false teachers by telling her God’s going to fix everything the way she wants it. She might die from the cancer she was just diagnosed with. She might never be able to get pregnant. Her estranged husband might not come back. Things might not get better. They might get worse.

2. Walk with her.
Joyce Meyer isn’t going to be there at three in the morning when she can’t stop crying. Beth Moore isn’t going to go to court with her and hold her hand when the verdict is handed down. Christine Caine isn’t going to pull her hair back when she’s vomiting from chemo. You be there. You comfort her. That’s why God put you in her life.

3. Set her mind on things above, not on earthly things.
Help her keep her eyes focused on Christ, not her situation. Pray with her. Sing songs of praise with her. Remind her of the gospel. Lead her to be thankful. Take her to church. Recite Scripture together.

4. Shut up.
Some of us are fixers. We want to make people feel better or fix their situation by doing something, saying something, teaching something. And a lot of times that’s not what a suffering woman needs. She just needs a hug. Someone to sit and cry with. Someone to eat raw cookie dough with. Hush. We don’t have to talk things to death all the time, and we’re probably not going to be able to fix the situation anyway.

5. Rehearse God’s real promises.
The false teachers are throwing sparkly fake promises at her. You give her the real ones. They’re so much better.

6. Suffer well.
Suffering is going to come your way, too, or maybe it already has. Set an example by being real about your own struggles and failures, yet testifying to God’s faithfulness during tribulation. What did you learn from your suffering? How did it build your trust in God and draw you closer to Him?

7. Pray.
Ask God to give you wisdom about what to say or do to help and comfort her. And intercede for her and her situation, as well, because, ultimately, regardless of your words or actions, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to comfort her heart and give her peace and trust in God. (Hmmm…maybe that’s why He’s called the Comforter?)

The desire to escape from suffering is normal and in no way an indication of a lack of faith. Even Jesus prayed in the garden that if there were some other way than the cross, God would “let this cup pass” from Him. But sometimes, as difficult as it is to understand, suffering is part of God’s plan for our lives. It’s not His desire that we escape it but that we depend on Him, rest in Him, trust Him, and obey Him as He carries us through it. When we love our sisters in Christ, this is the truth we will impart to them, not the heal-all salve of improved life circumstances and feel good-ism the used car salesmen of evangelicalism are hawking.

Imperishable Beauty: RefHERmation Day Bonus Lesson

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Happy Reformation Day!

For those of us working through this study in real time*, today is Reformation Day. I recently commended (again) to my readers Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s excellent book, Reformation Women, and I thought, “What better way to celebrate Reformation Day and biblical womanhood than to combine the two?”. So, today, we’re going to take a look at some women in Reformation history and in biblical history who exemplified biblical womanhood by influencing others toward godliness.

(*If you’re behind in your lessons, it’s OK to use this week as a catch up week and save today’s lesson for another day.

*If you’re working through this study or teaching it to a class at a later date you may want to skip this lesson, use it as supplementary or bonus material, or leave it for the end of the study.)


Choose any of the women below and read their stories (click on their names). Then consider the following questions:

1. In what ways did this woman exemplify biblical womanhood in her culture, context, circumstances, family situation, or church?

2. Which godly character traits or Fruit of the Spirit were especially obvious in her life, words, and actions?

3. Which Scripture passages come to mind as you read this woman’s story? In what ways did she live these Scriptures out (or fail to live them out)?

4. Are there any instances of sin in this woman’s story? If so, how can you learn from what she did wrong and avoid this sin in your own life?

5. How does this woman set a godly example that you can apply to your own life?

6. In what ways did this woman point someone to Jesus, serve the Kingdom, or help God’s people?

Women of the Bible

Esther

Ruth

Abigail

Deborah and Jael

Miriam

Mary

Priscilla

Lydia

Dorcas

 

Women of the Reformation

Catherine d’Bourbon

Jeanne D’Albret

Marguerite de Navarre

Margarethe Blaurer

Katharina Schutz Zell

Anna Adlischweiler

Anna Reinhard

Katharina von Bora Luther


If you’d like to discuss this lesson with other women who are participating in the study, join our  Imperishable Beauty Bible Study Discussion Group on Facebook.


Homework

Think of some ways you can bloom where God has planted you to serve your family, your church, and the Kingdom as a woman of the modern day Reformation.

8 Theses for Women of the Modern Day Reformation

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Originally published October 20, 2017

October 31, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and because I’m all theme-y and whatnot, I’m in the midst of a fantastic book called Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard who I dearly wish were on social media so I could shamelessly fangirl her and make a general nuisance of myself by asking too many questions. Normally, I would actually finish a book before slobberingly commending it to you, but in case you like being all theme-y and whatnot too, and because time is of the essence, I’m throwing caution to the wind and telling you:

Get this book. Now. You’re welcome.

Normally, when we read about the Reformation, we’re reading about great preachers and leaders like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Hus, but preaching was not the only work of the Reformation. And that’s one of the things that has captivated me about Rebecca’s book. All of the women included therein were strikingly courageous, tireless laborers, who contributed greatly  to the success of the Reformation, and they did it all while coloring inside the lines of biblical womanhood – doing vital work godly women are uniquely equipped by Christ to do. They opened their homes as a refuge to scores of Protestants (often including those aforementioned notable preachers and other integral leaders) fleeing for their lives from Catholic marauders. They set up prison ministries and fed and clothed the poor. They nursed their communities through the Plague. Those who were queens and princesses used their power to protect Reformers and change persecutory laws. Those who were married to pastors and leaders helped in their ministries and edited their books and papers. And they wrote. Poetry. Position papers. Booklets. Letters. What a happy discovery (for me, anyway) to find sisters of the quill from so long ago.

But these great ladies were not our only foremothers in the faith. For as long as God’s people have been God’s people, God’s people have rebelled and needed to be reformed. In fact, that’s the entire, overarching theme of the Old Testament- the need for Israel to reform from its idolatry. And all along the way we see faithful women like Deborah, Jael, Esther, Jehosheba, Jedidah, Huldah, Samson’s mother, and others willing to buck the trend of sin and rebellion and point the way back to God and holy living by their deeds and the example of their lives.

The New Testament gives us extraordinary examples such as the women who ministered to Jesus during His earthly ministry, stood by Him at the cross, and were the first ones at His tomb. Priscilla, Lydia, Dorcas, Eunice, Lois, Phoebe and other believing women soon followed, all lending their aid in their own unique ways to reforming dead, legalistic Judaism into biblical Christianity.

All of these great women of God, serving Him through thousands of years as only godly women can, laying the foundation with their blood, sweat, and tears, for the church we know today.

But have we “arrived”? Is the need for women to work for reform in the church a fast fading dot in the rear-view mirror of modern day evangelicalism? Judging from the articles I read and the e-mails I receive about the problems in the church, the answer to that question would be a big, fat “no.”

Perhaps armies of the Catholic “church” no longer hunt down fleeing Protestants. And, maybe Nero isn’t using Christians as torches for his garden parties any more (although there are certainly areas of the world where our brothers and sisters in Christ face similar threats every day). But the stealth, guerrilla warfare Satan has been waging against the Western church in recent decades might be even more damaging. Certainly, it’s more diffuse and wider spread. Instead of raping the bride of Christ, Satan has chosen instead to seduce her. Why forge an enemy when you can woo a lover?

False teachers. Word of Faith heresy. The New Apostolic Reformation. Abuse in the church. Biblical illiteracy. “Lone Ranger” Christians. Idolatry. Irreverence in the sanctuary.

For doctrinally sound Christians, it’s like being in that giant trash-masher with Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie – surrounded by slime and garbage on all sides with the walls closing in, and, seemingly, no way out.

It is easy to see why the heart of the Protestant Reformation was Semper Reformanda– “always reforming.” The work of fighting for sound doctrine, biblical worship, and pure hearts and hands never, never, never ends.

So what does it look like to be a woman of the modern day Reformation? What can we church ladies do to help turn the tide of apostasy in Christendom? Permit me to nail eight theses to the door of your church.

1.
Realize You Can’t Change the World

None of the women named earlier in this article changed the world or the entire church. Not a single one of them. In fact some of them brought about great changes in their locales that were overturned in the years after their deaths.

The problems facing the church today are overwhelming. You’re one person. You can’t fix everything (and God doesn’t expect you to). Maybe you can’t even fix everything in your own church. But what you can do is determine to be faithful to Christ and His Word in your sphere of influence. Bloom where you’re planted. “Brighten the corner where you are“, as the old gospel song says. You can’t do everything, but what’s something you can do?

2.
Color Inside the Lines

One of the major problems plaguing the church today is Christian women who rebel against God’s word by stepping outside the boundaries God has drawn for women in the family and the church. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by following suit in your zeal to reform. There’s plenty of work to be done by godly women – work that we’re better equipped for than men – without violating Scripture.

3.
Mind Your Demeanor

No, we shouldn’t be wishy washy milksops or mealy-mouthed shrinking violets. But we also shouldn’t be loud-mouthed harpies, brashly marching into hell with a water pistol (just trust my own failures on this one). We need to be velvet-covered bricks: soft on the outside, firm on the inside. We should attain to all the Christlike virtues of demeanor: patience, kindness, compassion, mercy, and grace mingled with an unyielding stand on Scripture and an uncompromising commitment to Christ. For some of us, the former comes easier. For some of us, the latter. But we must seek that godly balance as we go about the work of the Kingdom.

4.
Serve the Local Church

If you have rejected the mere idea of local church membership and think you’re going to bring about change from the outside as an unchurched (or functionally unchurched) writer, speaker, or Christian celebrity, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution. The church is God’s plan for Christianity, not evangelical gurus. Do whatever you have to do to find a doctrinally sound one, join it, and get to work serving.


5.
Pray

When it comes to the church, fixing what’s broken doesn’t rest on your shoulders. Spiritual problems require spiritual solutions, and only God can bring those about. You can defend Scripture til you’re blue in the face or explain all day long why someone is a false teacher, but only God can lift the veil and enlighten the eyes of the heart. Be faithful in your efforts, but be more faithful in prayer. Like the persistent widow, grab hold of the Lord on behalf of the church and don’t let go.


6.
Teach Other Women

In my experience, the number one way false doctrine enters the church is through women’s ministry and women’s “Bible” study. You want to work for reform in the church? Work on reforming your church’s women’s ministry. Explain to your sisters why that divangelista is a false teacher. Request Bible study classes that study the actual Bible. Volunteer to organize the next women’s conference or retreat and schedule doctrinally sound speakers. Teach a women’s or girls’ Sunday School class. Transform the church by transforming the hearts and minds of women.


7.
Help

The book of Exodus tells the story of Israel’s battle with Amalek. When Moses held up his arms, Israel prevailed. When he let down his arms, Amalek prevailed. Eventually, Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held up his arms for him so that Israel could win the battle. Who was more important to Israel’s victory in this story- Moses or Aaron and Hur? If you answered “both,” you’re correct. Israel couldn’t have won without Moses holding up his hands, but Moses couldn’t have held up his hands without Aaron and Hur. Most of the women of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Protestant Reformation who effected godly change among God’s people were not Moseses. They were Aarons and Hurs. What can you do to hold up the arms of your pastor, your elders, your husband, your church?


8.
Stand

Make sure you know your Bible backwards, forwards, and upside down in context. Know right from wrong, the biblical from the unbiblical. Learn what God’s word says, and stand. Don’t back down. Do it with a godly demeanor, but do it. Refusing to budge from the truth of Scripture might cost you your “church”. It might cost you your family and friends. It might cost you your job, your reputation, and your finances (as we’ve seen in recent years with Christians in the business world who have refused to cave to the homosexual agenda). But as our brothers and sisters who went to the fiery stake, the dank prison cell, and the gallows would tell you, fidelity to God’s Word is worth it. Loyalty to Christ is worth anything it might cost you. Stand.


Whether your women’s ministry is using a book by a false teacher, there’s a faction of backbiters in the church that needs to be quelled, or your pastor is overwhelmed and needs some help, there’s something in your church that you can pray about, help with, or work on to help it move toward spiritual health. The church needs discerning, biblically knowledgeable, mature Christian women to step up and fight ungodliness whenever and wherever we’re able. Will you be a courageous laborer in the modern day Reformation?

Should Christians Participate in Halloween? 7 Scriptures to Consider

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Originally published October 24, 201410394788_860513210656281_4509180524943822101_n

Should Christians participate in Halloween? 

Since there is no specific Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt/shalt not participate in Halloween and its related activities,” this is an area of Christian liberty that must be decided by each individual or couple on the basis of scriptural principles and prayer. If there are Halloween activities available to you that do not violate scriptural principles or your conscience or cause you to become a stumbling block to someone weaker in the faith (which may even be your spouse or child), you are free to participate in those aspects of Halloween.

Here are some Scriptures and principles that may be of help as you make your decision:

1 Corinthians 10:23:
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

Is it helpful? Does it build you/your family up?

1 Corinthians 10:24-30:
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

Who is watching what your family does? Are you serving your neighbor and drawing him closer to Christ by the activities you participate in?  

1 Corinthians 10:31:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Are you glorifying God by participating in the activity you’re considering?

Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Does the activity exemplify and cause you to think about things that are pure, lovely, etc.?

Ephesians 5:11-12-
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Is the activity spiritually unfruitful, a work of darkness, shameful? Are you taking part in evil or exposing it?

Isaiah 5:20:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Does the activity celebrate, honor, or make light of sin, evil, and darkness?

1 Corinthians 15:54b-55:
Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Christ died to put death to death. Does the activity you’re considering glorify death?

 

For Further Reading:

Cancel Halloween Unless You Can Do These 5 Things by Aaron Armstrong

Halloween History and the Bible from Answers in Genesis

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween from Got Questions

The Five Solas of the Protestant Deformation

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Originally published September 15, 2017

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. October 31, 2017 will commemorate the date in 1517 when Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses – a list of grievances against the Catholic church for unbiblical doctrines and practices – to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Luther’s calls for reform spread quickly throughout Europe, inspiring the likes of church fathers Ulrich Zwingli (Zurich), John Calvin (Geneva), and John Knox (Scotland) to join the effort in their own locales. As they worked to address the issues raised in Luther’s document, these men codified what we know today as the “Five Solas of the Reformation,” the basis of Protestant church doctrine. The five solas are:

1. Sola Scriptura– Scripture alone is the basis for all church doctrine, belief, and practice. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. Sola Gratia– Salvation is by grace alone. It is an unmerited gift of God based solely on His goodness, not our own (because we don’t have any). (Ephesians 2:8-9)

3. Sola Fide– Salvation is through faith alone. Faith is a gift bestowed by God. We are saved only by placing that faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, not by doing good works or by any other attempts to earn salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

4. Solus Christus– Salvation is found in Christ alone. As Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

5. Soli Deo Gloria– God saves man for God’s glory alone, and Believers are to live our lives to glorify Him alone. (Romans 11:36)

The five solas should be the foundation of the church’s orthodoxy (beliefs or doctrine) and our orthopraxy (church practices). But over the past five centuries there’s been a declension. A downgrade. The church has become deformed from the beautiful biblical portrait of a bride “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” because we’ve functionally replaced the Five Solas of the Reformation with pragmatic, and often idolatrous, solas of our own making…

No longer is Christian doctrine and practice governed strictly by sola Scriptura, especially among Christian women. Now it’s all about what our own personal feelings, opinions, and life experiences. Won’t go to a church that preaches sin and repentance because it offends your sensibilities? You’ve become accepting of homosexual “marriage” because someone you love dearly has adopted that lifestyle? Believe God is in the habit of talking to people because you’ve “heard His voice”? Then you’re basing your doctrine and practices on your own feelings and experiences rather than on what the Bible says.

The Christian’s instructions for life and godliness are found in only one place: the Bible. We do not squish Christianity into the mold of what makes us happy, what we agree with, our relationships with others, or the things we’ve experienced. We start with the Bible and we bring everything else in our lives – everything we think, feel, believe, say, and do – into submission to it. If a personal feeling, opinion, or experience conflicts with Scripture, it is wrong. We don’t change Scripture to fit our perspective, we change our perspective to fit Scripture.

If you want to know what road the modern church is headed down simply pick up your Bible and turn to… the Old Testament. Especially the verses that say “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Jesus said the way to greatness was humility, servanthood, and anonymity. We want glory, recognition, and applause. God says, “walk in My ways.” We say, “I’ll consider that if it fits in with my plans, is agreeable to me, and makes me look good to others.” We “welcome” the Holy Spirit into His own church as though we own the place. We are so used to being on the throne of our own lives that we use words like “letting” or “allowing” God to do something without even realizing it. We don’t ask, “Is it pleasing to God?”, we say, “If it’s pleasing to me, it must be pleasing to God.” Goodbye soli Deo gloria. Hello soli ego gloria.

More and more, “Christians” are driven by the selfish greed of “What can God do for me?” rather than the pursuit of holiness. So-called Christian teachers who will scratch itching ears are sought out, and an abundance of hucksters are at the ready, eager to “give the people what they want” in order to make a fast buck.

These people who claim the name of Christ care nothing about following in His footsteps – or even knowing what those footsteps are – craving instead the temporal creature comforts of wealth, success, popularity, health, self esteem, and influence. They want to be told what their flesh wants to hear, and they want to believe that’s Christianity. Share in Christ’s sufferings? Never. Away with the Via Dolorosa. Lead us down the primrose path.

Spotlights. Merch. Audiences of thousands. Agents. Entourages. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the Christian celebrities from the secular. The star-struck church has created its own caste system in which biblical fidelity is measured by how many books you’ve sold, the number of attendees at your megachurch or conferences, and the size of your audience on social media. That many followers? That number of bestsellers at the Christian retail chain? She must know what she’s talking about. We’ll use her books for our women’s “Bible” study – no vetting necessary! But that 85 year old pastor who’s been faithfully expositing the Word to his rural congregation of twenty for the better part of his life? No kudos. No esteem for honorable servants of the Lord such as he. We want glitz and glam and hype and bling. We want to be cutting edge, relevant, and attractional. Because maybe – just maybe – some of that glory will rub off on us. And so it goes – we follow the latest and greatest Christian authors, bands and personalities, attracted more to their pretty faces, stylish clothes, and charisma than to sound doctrine, while Christ’s sheep, relegated to a dark corner of the sanctuary, bleat to simply be fed the Bread of Life and the Living Water.

What’s hot rightthisminute? What’s the current style, the latest trend, the fad du jour? The Church of What’s Happening Now wants to know. Whether it’s today’s Christian bestseller that simply every small group is using now, dahling, or caving to whichever way the wind is blowing today when it comes to the world’s sexual morality, if we can just ride the viral wave of the immediate we can get people in the doors, money in the offering plate, and souls into Heaven. Maybe.

Vox populi, vox Dei? Have we forgotten how uncool it was to be the only one building an ark before rain was invented? That idol worship was the latest thing going in Jeremiah’s day? That it was the crowds who cried “Crucify Him!”?

The God of the Bible is not hip and groovy. He’s seen as hopelessly out of touch with current morals and values. A doddering old fool who just can’t seem to get with the times. His holy ways are antiquated and obsolete. We’re modern and educated and wise to the ways of the world. We know better how His church and our lives should run.

Just what is it we’re building our Christian doctrine and practices on these days? ‘Cause it sure isn’t the unadulterated written Word of God and the original five solas. Maybe it’s time we took a good hard look at how far we’ve slidden in the last five hundred years. How far we’ve strayed from the purity of Scripture and doctrine the Reformers worked so hard for, were imprisoned and persecuted for, were martyred for.

Maybe it’s time for another Reformation.


Additional Resources:

Why We’re Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation by Nate Pickowicz

What was the Protestant Reformation? at Got Questions

5 Questions and the 5 Solas at The Cripplegate

Throwback Thursday ~ 7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music

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October is Pastor Appreciation Month!
Show your minister of music some appreciation by encouraging him.

Originally published November 18, 2014

7 encourage MoM

Numerous articles have been written about how you, as a church member, can be an encouragement to your pastor- how you can constructively praise his sermon, pray for him, get him a great gift for Pastor Appreciation Month, etc. These are good things. Please be sure to support your pastor. Being a pastor is one of the toughest and most thankless jobs out there, and if you’ve read the statistics you know pastors need and deserve all the encouragement they can get.

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

1. Make practice a priority.

Before you join the choir or praise team or volunteer to play an instrument, find out how much of a time commitment it will be, and consider whether or not you can diligently keep that commitment. Once you’ve joined or volunteered, attend rehearsals, worship services, and performances faithfully, and be sure to arrive on time. You have no idea how much it means to your minister of music that he can count on you.

2. Get to the church on time.

Think about how you would feel if you planned a dinner party, worked hard all week cooking and cleaning, and then one of the couples you invited carelessly showed up halfway through the meal. You’d probably think that was kind of rude and feel somewhat discouraged. That’s sort of the way a minister of music can feel when people (especially the same people every week) habitually arrive late to church for non-emergency reasons. Not only that, but it’s a distraction to others when you come in late, plus you’re missing out on praising God and getting your heart prepared to receive His word during the sermon. Being on time and ready for worship benefits everybody!

3. Sing.

If you were in a meeting at work or in a college class, would you pick up your knitting, clip your nails, walk around the room chatting with friends, or bury your nose in your phone the whole time? Probably not, yet, over the years I have seen church members do all these and more during the music portion of the worship service. It’s disrespectful to the God we’re supposed to be worshiping and to the minister of music who is trying to do the work God has called him to. On the other hand, I love it when we get in the car after church and my husband says, with a smile on his face, “Wow, they were really singing today!” We have an incredible Savior who has given us the privilege of praising Him, so let’s take Him up on it. Sing out! You can worship and be an encourager all at the same time.

4. Smile!

It’s pretty disheartening for a minister of music to stand up front, giving it all he’s got, and then look out over the congregation and see a bunch of people looking like they’d rather be at the dentist. Think about Who you’re singing to and all the reasons why you’re singing to Him, and I challenge you to keep a frown on your face! Just the simple act of smiling while you’re singing will do wonders for your minister of music (and for you!).

5. Think before you complain.

Has your minister of music said or done something that’s clearly a sin or false doctrine? If so, you have a biblical obligation  to go to him -kindly and in love- and talk to him about it directly.

Is your complaint a matter of personal preference- style of music, whether or not he wears a tie, etc.? Give it 24 hours. Does it still seem just as important? Could you possibly be a servant to him (and others in the congregation whose opinion is the opposite of yours) by overlooking an offense and not complaining?

If you do feel the need to voice your concern (and there are valid concerns that aren’t sin-related), approach your minister of music the way you would want to be approached. Instead of, “Turn that dadgum volume DOWN!” how about, “I was wondering if it would be possible to ask the sound tech to lower the volume in the house speakers a little? My baby’s ears are very sensitive and she gets fussy when it’s that loud. I hate missing worship when I have to take her out to the lobby.” Instead of, “Hymns are so boring. I don’t see why we have to sing them half the time,” how about, “I really loved those two worship songs we sang this morning! Do you think we might be able to sing more songs like that soon?” Christ wants us to be kind to one another, so show your minister of music a little “Golden Rule” love.

6. Speak encouraging words often.

It’s been our experience, and seems to be the general consensus among ministers of music, that the most common kind of feedback they get is negative feedback. People are much quicker to complain than affirm. Buck the trend. Did he choose one of your favorite songs for the service? Did a certain song help you to understand one of God’s attributes better? Did the choir do a nice job on their anthem? Are you praying for him? Tell him. He appreciates it more than you know.

7. Show tangible appreciation.

It is amazing what even the smallest gift can do to lift my husband’s spirits. A card of appreciation (I have come across cards that he has saved for years), something related to one of his hobbies, a church member buying him lunch at a fast food place. They might be small items monetarily speaking, but their message is, “I care about you, and I appreciate your hard work.” And that’s priceless.

 

We have been blessed over the last two decades to serve at several churches that had members who were very good at encouraging their minister of music. Their love and support made my husband’s ministry a joy. What are some ways you can think of to encourage the minister of music at your church and spread that same kind of joy?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 6- The Beauty of Membership Identity

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Read These Selected Scriptures

In lesson 5, we learned about finding our identity in Christ. To find our identity in anyone or anything else is idolatry. Today, we’re exploring membership in the Body as part of our identity in Christ.

Questions to Consider

1. In previous lessons (see links above) we learned that we were created by God, in the image of God. We also learned that, as Believers, our personal identity – who we are at the deepest inner level of our own being, and how we see ourselves – is found in Christ. But there’s no such thing as an isolated Christian individual. (1 Corinthians 12:14) Read 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Romans 12:5 from today’s passages. What is another aspect of our identity in Christ?

2. According to the Colossians passages, what is another name for the “body”? Look up the word “church” in a concordance. What is the first verse in the Bible to mention the word “church”? Who spoke this verse? In what ways does this verse demonstrate that Jesus is the founder, builder, owner, and sustainer of the church?

3. There are two different ways the term “church” is most frequently used in the Bible and by Christians today: a) the church catholic (small “c”, not Roman Catholic) or universal, and b) the local church. What is the difference between these terms? Describe your membership as a Believer in both the church catholic and the local church.

4. How do you become a member of the church catholic? (1 Corinthians 12:13) Is this baptism at the moment of salvation visible or invisible? Spiritual or tangible? How does visible water baptism into membership in the visible local church outwardly symbolize your invisible baptism in the Holy Spirit into the invisible church catholic? Have you been baptized as your first step into local church membership? Why were you baptized, or why haven’t you been baptized?

5. Consider the metaphor of individual Christians as “body parts” (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) in terms of actual parts of a human body. Explain the metaphor in detail – how are the parts connected to the body? How/where do the parts get their nourishment? How do the parts know what to do and when to do it? How can the parts help or hinder other parts and the body as a whole? Who/what is the “command center” of the body?

6. What does 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 teach us about how we should view ourselves as a member of the body? What is God’s purpose in teaching us this view of ourselves – to build up our egos? Explain verse 18 as it applies to you and to other church members. What does 1 Corinthians 12:20-27 teach the church about how we should view individual members? What does it mean to be a church member who is “weaker” (22), “less honorable…unpresentable” (23)? What provisions does God – and do we – make for those members? (23-24) How does this contribute to unity in the church? (25-26)

7. Consider the 1 Corinthians passage and the Romans passage together with regard to how individual members contribute to the workings of the Body. Describe the heart attitude God wants us to have, and the approach He wants us to take as we serve the church. How do the concepts of unity, cooperation, and humility flesh themselves out as we work with fellow church members to serve the Body?

8. Sometimes we encounter a sister in Christ who is so passionate about her particular gifting or area of ministry that she pressures other church members to be as passionately involved in that ministry as she is, or she seems to look down on Christians who don’t have the same gifting she has. How would you use today’s passages to disciple her?


If you’d like to discuss this lesson with other women who are participating in the study, join our  Imperishable Beauty Bible Study Discussion Group on Facebook.


Homework

Is membership in the church catholic or the local church optional for Christians? If you answered yes to either, cite the Scriptures supporting your answer.

Give my article Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians (and the articles in the “Additional Resources” section) a read. Explain in your own words why God wants Christians to be members of a doctrinally sound local church. Need to find a doctrinally sound church? Want to know what to look for in a healthy church? Explore the resources at the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page. (You can also recommend any doctrinally sound churches you have a personal connection with.)


Suggested Memory Verse

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 
1 Corinthians 12:27