Mailbag

The Mailbag: Quelling Your Quarantine Anxiety

 

I just wanted to say, I appreciate all that you do! I love visiting your page regularly because I have found it to be a trustworthy, biblical source.

My heart is aching to be with my church family and worship together. I’ve been BEGGING God to give pastors and elders the courage to open the doors again. I completely understand that there are several interpretations of Romans 13 and what that looks like in our current situation. I do know that the virus is a real threat and many are fearful. I do. 

The areas I’m struggling with are:

  • Would/when would civil disobedience be OK?
  • All the things that go along with isolation/lockdown: depression, suicide, domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect, economic crash resulting in more death and poverty, etc.
  • I see an inconsistency with believers inviting families and friends over to their homes (breaking the mandate) and yet saying that in order to uphold Romans 13 we ought to keep the church closed.
  • I look around at my fellow believers that seem to be totally content with “watching church” every week and are in no hurry to get back.
  • I’m in distress that my [young] children are growing up thinking this is normal.

I’m just trying to figure it all out and wondered if you had any light to shed on the situation. My spirit has been SO unsettled. I’m not sure if you’ve already seen this [podcast episode by a doctrinally sound theologian], but this is probably the most biblical piece that I’ve come across. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate your passion on this issue. Some of your concerns were answered in my article The Mailbag: Why no COVID weigh-in?. Here are my thoughts on your questions and comments above;

• I totally understand your feelings about wanting to get back to church. I feel the same way, and I think most genuinely regenerated Believers would agree.

• Have you and your husband sat down and discussed all of your feelings about the issues? I know it always helps me to process my thoughts and unburden myself by talking things out with my husband.

• Have you talked to your husband about the possibility of discussing all of these things with your pastor? He can probably help alleviate some of your concerns or at least provide you with information about your own church and situation.

• I’m sensing that you’re experiencing a bit of anxiety over this issue, and it sounds like a lot of your concerns have to do with the way other people are acting and thinking. Can I make a few suggestions that may help you to be more at peace?

· Stop worrying about what other people are thinking, saying, and doing about all of these issues. That’s not a burden God has called you to carry. I don’t want to be so blunt as to say, “Mind your own business,” but keeping your focus on managing your own household and family will go a long way to reducing your anxiety about this.

· Get off social media and stop watching the news. You won’t be able to worry about how other people are responding or not responding to the issue if it’s not constantly in front of you.

· Keep busy. If you have free time, read a (non-COVID-related) book, learn how to knit, bake, garden, do a project with the kids. Ask your pastor if there’s anything you can do to help get things ready for meeting together again at your church (phone calls, e-mails, cleaning, etc.).

· Here are some Scriptures that may help:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. Psalm 37:1-8

• Ask God to help you stay in the mindset of trusting your pastor, praying for him, and joyfully submitting to his leadership. Remind yourself it’s not your job to set policy for your church, that’s your pastor’s/elders’ job. Also, you don’t need to concern yourself with how other pastors are handling their churches. Focus on your own church and how you can pray for and help it.

• Stop worrying about hypotheticals and what ifs (civil disobedience in the future, abuse, suicide, reasons for shutting the doors of the church, etc.). God does not require you to have the answers to those questions, and if/when they do happen, He will carry you through it then. Focus on glorifying God in what He has given you to do today.

• I have six kids ranging in age from 32 to 17, so as an older mom to a younger mom, relax. Your children are not as fragile as you think and they are not “growing up” thinking this is normal. A) It’s only been a couple of months. B) If your kids are young, I can practically guarantee you that, even if this goes on for a few more months, they’ll never remember it. Ask them when they’re in their 20s and see if I’m right. :0)

• I love the theologian you mentioned and I listen to his podcast regularly, but I know my own tendency to be fearful of the future, and I’ve noticed that when he starts “doomsaying” about how terrible things are going to get, my anxiety shoots up. He may be 100% right about everything that’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to him say it if that makes you anxious. (That may be an “eye” you need to gouge out if it causes you to sin by worrying.)

You don’t have to have all the answers. It really is OK to loosen your grip, put all these unknowns in God’s hands, and trust Him to work everything out His way and in His timing – not yours – as you practice “waiting upon the Lord.”

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

 

Additional Resources

Spurring each other on! COVID-19 Quarantine Encouragement on A Word Fitly Spoken

Church was never meant to be remote: Reuniting after COVID-19 on A Word Fitly Spoken


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ April 9, 2019

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

In February’s edition of Favorite FindsI mentioned that I was hoping to have the opportunity to see the movie  Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy, which was in theaters in mid-March. Well, life intervened and I wasn’t able to get to the theater when it was playing, so I guess I’ll have to wait for it to come out on Netflix or something. Did you see the movie? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear a little feedback…or maybe you’d like to write a review of the movie as a guest post?

 

“I’m not sad that I’m not and couldn’t be a church planter or lead pastor. I don’t feel restricted or resentful. Instead, I feel full.” I always appreciate the voices of sisters in Christ who are leading unashamedly under the banner of strong, biblical complementarianism. Complementarianism is a blessing, not a burden, so I really enjoyed Whitney Woollard’s* article Delighting in Authority: How to Create a Culture of Happy Complementarians over at Eternal Perspectives Ministry.

 

Go Back to the Local Church“…since loving Christ entails loving the Church; it’s time for you now to heed the summons of God’s Word and go back into a local church, a local expression of the Body of Christ.” I really appreciate Jennifer Brogdon’s* gentle and compassionate approach to encouraging wounded saints to go back to church (especially compared to my usual “bull in a china shop” treatment of the same topic) in her article Go Back to the Local Church.

 

Image result for life in four stages

Who’s in the mood for a free book? Here’s a PDF copy of Al Mohler’s Life in Four Stages: A Biblical Celebration of Childhood, Youth, Adulthood and Age.

 

 

 

Want to study the Ten Commandments? Here’s a free  devotional excerpted from Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them.

 

If you’re looking for great listening and reading material, you cannot go wrong with Steve Lawson. I highly recommend him. Here’s an excerpt from his sermon It Will Cost You Everything. (Subtitles in various languages available.)


*I’m not very familiar with these writers or all the content at these blogs. I do not endorse anything you might find at these sites that conflicts with my theology as outlined at the Welcome and Statement of Faith tabs at the top of this page.
Mailbag

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

 

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourrri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


I see many people on my Facebook news feed that are sharing innocuous or biblical sounding content (memes, Facebook posts, blog posts, etc.) from false teachers/ministries. I didn’t find an article on your web site and was wondering if you have already written one. I thinking it would be helpful to help share with others that it’s now necessary to understand the ramifications of sharing (boosting the author’s credibility, clicks, $, inadvertently sharing false doctrine or non-biblical philosophy, etc.)

I see the same thing in my Facebook feed, and it worries me for the people who, with the best of intentions, I’m sure, are following false teachers themselves and pointing others to false teachers by sharing those posts.

I have, indeed, written an article about this (it does pop up if you use the search bar, but you have to scroll down a ways to get to it since I wrote it a few years ago- sorry about that):

Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet


What do you think of National Back to Church Sunday (NBCS)?

The concept is OK at the surface level, I guess. If all it is is a particular Sunday on the calendar when unchurched people are encouraged to go back to church, and churched people are encouraged to invite unchurched people to church, and churches are encouraged to find out why their supposedly churched members haven’t shown up for weeks, months, or years, I see no problem with the concept itself.

The problem comes when you move from the “on paper” concept to the actual churches that are participating and how those churches are attempting to get unchurched people in the door. If it’s a doctrinally sound church and the pastor says, “Hey- everybody invite an unchurched friend to come with you next week,” great. But we do not want unchurched people putting one toe over the threshold of an apostate or heretical church, and sadly, it appears as though at least some of the participating churches that have registered with the NBCS “Find a Church” page may fall into those categories. And if these “churches” are using unbiblical means and enticements to get lost people in the doors, that’s an additional problem.

The reader also included a link to encounter.com in her question. It’s clear encounter.com is in some way connected to NBCS, but I’m unclear as to how. The material on the “Invited to Belong” page is nauseatingly and blatantly seeker driven and man-centered. It’s all about how worthy you are rather than how worthy Christ is. There is no gospel presentation. Of the four people quoted, none are doctrinally sound Christians. One of the final sentences is a good summary of the whole page: “No church will be perfect, because no person is perfect, but we invite you to find a local church where you will belong.” Not a doctrinally sound church. Not a church that proclaims the biblical gospel. Not a church that preaches Christ and Him crucified. Not a church that teaches the Bible. It’s all about you, baby. If this encounter.com page is in some way NBCS’s mission statement or statement of faith, then I would certainly not recommend the NBCS organization.


I am looking for a solid but very simple Bible study for a loved one who struggles with understanding complicated concepts and words. Maybe even a kids study that is rich in theology. I was wondering if you had any ideas or advice on this?

It’s wonderful that your dear one loves the Lord and wants to study her Bible. Thank you so much for trying to help her!

Since you are a long time reader, you’ve probably heard me say that I don’t recommend “canned” studies, but that people should pick up the actual Bible and study it for themselves. In this case, may I suggest that might even be more important for someone like your loved one? I imagine that her poor reading skills may have made her more dependent on others in many areas of her life than she would like to be, and that studying the Bible for herself would not only be the best way to learn it, but would also give her a greater sense of confidence and independence. An “ownership” of her study of the Bible, if you will.

There are several good children’s and “easy reader” Bibles out there. I’ve suggested a few here: Children’s Bible Recommendations. You might wish to sit down with her and come up with a list of simple questions she can answer as she finishes reading a chapter, such as:

📖 Who is this passage about?
📖 What is the main idea of this passage?
📖 Why did God – the author of the author of the Bible Who says all Scripture is useful – put this passage in the Bible? 

📖 What can I learn about God from this passage?
📖 Is this passage telling me to do/not to do something? How can I obey it?
📖 Is there something in this passage I need to pray about?

Or, if you like, you could suggest that she read one of the books of the Bible I’ve written a study on (out of her own, new, easy to read Bible), take some of the questions I’ve written and send her a simplified version of the ones you think she can handle.

And, perhaps you could be “on call” via phone or e-mail to answer any questions she might have about what she’s studying. What a great opportunity to do one on one discipleship with someone who’s dear to your heart!


Do you know of any good Christian homeschooling blogs?

I homeschool, so I’m asked from time to time about homeschooling resources, but to be honest, it’s just not something I really read about. I recently asked my readers to recommend some good, doctrinally sound online homeschool blogs and resources, and here’s what they suggested (Please note, I have not vetted any of these. You will need to do the research yourself to discover whether or not they’re doctrinally sound.)

Family Renewal
✏ Reformed Homeschoolin’ Mamas
✏ Durenda Wilson
(author of The Unhurried Homeschooler)
✏ Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood
✏ The Kingdom Driven Family
✏ Annie & Everything


I really enjoyed reading A Few Good Men and A Few MORE Good Men, but how come John Piper (or another pastor) isn’t included? Is he a false teacher? 

Please understand that these two lists of godly male teachers aren’t exhaustive. Praise God, there are scores of preachers and teachers out there who faithfully teach and rightly handle God’s Word. I couldn’t list all of them if I tried, though I plan to add more articles like this in the future. These were just the teachers I was most familiar with at the time I wrote the articles. The mere fact that your favorite teacher doesn’t appear on these lists does not make him a false teacher, and I hope the articles don’t imply that (I don’t think they do).

John Piper’s books, sermons, and blog are mostly fine, and while I disagree with him on several points of theology, I certainly do not consider him to be a false teacher. But he’s not somebody I’m going to proactively recommend, either. Here’s how I’ve answered readers in the past who have asked me about John Piper:

While I consider Dr. Piper to be a generally doctrinally sound Christian brother and agree with him in many aspects of theology, he is not someone I proactively recommend for a few reasons:

1. Dr. Piper is a continuationist. I usually limit my endorsements to cessationists  because I believe this is the biblical view of the gifts. (I do not consider otherwise doctrinally sound continuationists to be false teachers, however.)

2. I’m concerned about Dr. Piper’s associations and partnerships with false teachers (which violates 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Romans 16:17-18, and 2 John 9-11). First he appeared to embrace Rick Warren when he interviewed him and invited him to speak at the Desiring God conference in 2010. More recently, he has been a featured speaker at events like the Passion conferences where he has shared the stage with Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, and Judah Smith.

3. Dr. Piper’s complementarianism seems muddled at best. On the one hand he will go so far as to say that Christian women should not be drill sergeants (the Bible mentions nothing of the sort), yet on the other hand he joins in ministry with the aforementioned Caine, Shirer, and Moore who – in addition the the false doctrine they preach – all actively and unrepentantly violate clear Scripture by preaching to men. It’s quite confusing.

I’m not going to warn people away from John Piper as a false teacher, but I can’t, in good conscience, recommend him either.


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.