Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Bible study for the lost, good preachers, new Christian witnessing, Catholic statues, “The Chosen” update)

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 potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

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

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

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

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


My daughter who is not yet saved wants to do a Christian book study with a friend. I am just thrilled that she even has that desire. She is thinking about doing one of Lysa TerKeurst’s books who I know not to have solid theology (among other problems with her).  Could you suggest someone who would be a good option?

 

I’m so glad your daughter seems to be gravitating toward wanting to read something biblical. If it were one of my children, I would be excited too. Thank you for protecting her from false doctrine.

But to answer your question, no. I’m afraid I can’t. I don’t recommend what I call “canned” Bible study books, DVDs, etc., on principle, even (maybe especially) for unsaved people. You can read more at the articles linked under “Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?” above, but here’s the gist of my reasoning:

• Modern evangelicalism and Christian retailing has conditioned most Christians to believe that if they’re going to study the Bible, they have to use a pre-fab, packaged study instead of simply studying straight from the text of Scripture. There are a lot of super, doctrinally sound Christians who have no problem recommending these kinds of (solid) studies, and that’s great, but if I have to be the lone voice crying in the wilderness that we need to stop being dependent on Bible study books, I’m going to be that gal. And if I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend study books.

• The overwhelming majority of “canned” Bible studies, especially the ones written for women, contain false doctrine. Trying to find a “good” one is like trying to find three grains of salt in a bowl full of sugar. It’s much more efficient to recommend something we all know is completely trustworthy and inerrant – the Bible itself.

• God’s Word is sufficient for our every need. For thousands of years, people have gotten saved and sanctified simply by reading Scripture, and we need to get back to that.

• Most Christians (including me) who have done both book studies and studying straight from Scripture will tell you that studying straight from Scripture is far more rewarding. It creates a greater intimacy with God, the Holy Spirit illumines and applies Scripture to your life in the way you need it, and you learn so much more. It’s like the difference between watching someone else search for buried treasure, and searching for it, and finding it, yourself.

So here are a few options I’d recommend for your daughter instead of someone else’s book:

Look through some of the studies I’ve written at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page to see if any of them would be of interest to her. My studies are designed to teach women how to study the Bible for themselves, so that once they get the hang of it, they won’t have to depend on anyone else’s materials any more, even mine.

At that same tab is a list of Bible reading plans. Your daughter probably isn’t ready for a “read through the Bible in a year” plan, but there are several links to much shorter plans – some as short as 1-3 weeks – that will take her through a topic or a book of the Bible.

Order her a gospel of John from Pocket Testament League, and encourage her to read about a chapter a day (or whatever she’s comfortable with). PTL actually uses the book of John as an evangelism tool. They have all sorts of unique designs and translations (I would recommend ESV), and a small, groovy looking little “booklet” might be less intimidating to her than the whole Bible. You can read more here.


Love your blog! I have read your list on ministries or preachers you write on and don’t recommend. I highly admire this. I would like to find ones that I could watch that you do recommend. Do you have a list of men preachers that would fall under this category with a thumbs up? Also any women’s Bible studies I could follow online as well.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you’re finding the blog helpful.

If you’ve read the Popular False Teachers and Unbiblical Trends tab, you were soooooo close to finding what you were looking for! :0) Right next to that tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) is a tab entitled Recommended Bible Teachers. You’ll find lots of great pastors and teachers there.

As I mentioned above, I highly recommend you study straight from the Bible itself. If you need a little help getting started, the (online) studies I’ve written will teach you how to do that. You can find them at the Bible Studies tab (also in the blue menu bar at the top of this page). Our current study is Ezekiel.


I’m recently saved, and I feel compelled to share the Gospel with a co-worker but I hesitate because of my past reputation at work. I worry that I will have no credibility. Yes, they’ve all seen the change in me but they’re waiting for it to ‘wear off’. Should I wait until I’m farther removed from my sin to share the gospel with him? Wait until they’re all satisfied that I’ve changed and am not going back to my old ways? Wait for someone else to step up and share with him? He has weighed heavily on my mind as of late and I want him to have the same living hope that I have experienced and to understand the importance of forgiveness. 

Great question! I’m so thrilled you want to share the gospel with someone!

You’ve explained in your e-mail to me that the nature of your relationship to this co-worker isn’t going to be problematic, but for any readers wondering about sharing the gospel with men, please see #11 here and always exercise wisdom and caution.

Take a moment to read the story of the woman at the well. She was zero minutes removed from her sin – in fact she may not have truly been a Believer yet – when she ran back to town urging her friends and neighbors, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”.

Or the blind man Jesus healed: “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight…One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

Honey, that’s you. You’re just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to have all the answers, because you’re not the one who’s going to save this guy. Jesus is. He is perfect. He has all the answers. It’s OK to tell your co-worker that you’re new at all this and still learning…but tell Him about Jesus.

Tell him how Jesus washed all your sins away. Tell him how Jesus set you free and gave you peace. Tell him you want him to have the same living hope that you have experienced and to understand the importance of forgiveness. Tell him.


I just read your article about Nativity scenes, and I agree with you. This article makes me wonder, however: I’m curious about your take on the statues and various sacraments that are typical in a Catholic church. Do you think there is a line that has been crossed with such things, or do you think it depends on how an individual approaches and uses these items?

This is a super question – I really like the way you’re thinking this through!

Yes, a line has been crossed in Catholicism, but it’s much more foundational than most Christians realize. There’s no way to gently and, at the same time, clearly say this for those who may not be aware, so I’ll just say it: Catholicism is not Christianity. Even though it utilizes the Bible and Christian terminology, much like Mormonism, It is a different religion at its very core.

There are many reasons for this, and idol (statues) worship, as you’ve touched on, is only one of them. Positioning Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ is blasphemy. Purgatory blatantly contradicts both Christ’s sufficient atonement for sin and outright rejects Scripture’s teaching on God’s judgment after death. Re-crucifying Christ in the Mass along with transubstatiation is an abomination. Praying to (or in or through or with or whatever conjunction they want to use) dead people (the “saints” and Mary) is patently unbiblical. Infused righteousness rejects the biblical teaching of imputed righteousness. The teaching that one must be baptized into the Catholic “church” in order to be saved is anti-gospel.The Pope is not infallible as proved by all of the above and more. And don’t get me started on the Catholic “church’s” scores of brutal murders and imprisonments of Bible believing, Bible preaching, Bible translating, and Bible owning Christians during the Protestant Reformation. I could go on and on.*

But possibly the most egregious heresy Catholicism teaches is that anyone who believes this…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

…is anathema – excommunicated from Catholicism and therefore damned to an eternity in Hell. This is just one of the many anathemas from the Council of Trent, which convened in 1545 to codify Catholic doctrine and repudiate Protestantism:

If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

According to Catholicism’s own doctrines, anyone who believes what the Bible says about being saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and not by these plus accompanying works, is damned. If that’s not “another gospel,” I don’t know what is.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9

So, to answer your question a little more directly, there is no right or “biblical” way for a Catholic to use statues, relics, sacraments, or any other accoutrements of Catholicism because the entire system is corrupt, anti-biblical, and is not Christianity.

Here are a few more resources that may be helpful if you’d like to read more:

Catholic Questions at Got Questions

Roman Catholicism at CARM

List of excommunicable offences from the Council of Trent at Wikipedia (I know, I know, it’s Wikipedia, but as of the date I’m posting this, it’s a pretty decent article.)

*Invariably, when I (or any other Protestant for that matter) address a well established doctrine or practice of Catholicism and how/why it isn’t biblical, a Catholic will argue: “That’s not what we really believe!”. If you’re a Catholic and you’re about to make a comment along those lines, here’s my response: That’s what your own “church” teaches, so it IS what Catholics are supposed to believe. If you don’t believe your own “church’s” doctrine, why are you still a Catholic?

Thank you so much for your ministry. I am truly blessed by it. In regards to The Chosen, I was listening to Todd Friel on Wretched and he said something very interesting about the producer. I have attached the link.

Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. For those who might be unfamiliar, The Chosen is a made for streaming “TV show” drama on the life and ministry of Jesus, produced by Dallas Jenkins. It premiered earlier this year, the week before Easter. At that time, I wrote a review of the series, which you can read here if you like. I have added the following update to that article:

Update (7/12/20): Thank you to a kind reader who brought to my attention a recent interview of Dallas on a Mormon YouTube channel. Dallas seems to believe that Mormonism and Catholicism are both Christianity. You can listen to the short version (with Todd Friel’s commentary) here (starting at 45:00) or the entire interview here. You may also wish to compare (fairly, objectively, and discerningly) Dallas’ comments in the interview with his comments (below) at the end of this article. It is one thing to use the products and services of a non-Christian company. It is another matter to personally believe, as a Christian, that false religions are Christianity and that adherents of those religions are brothers and sisters in Christ. If these revelations of Dallas’ beliefs prevent you from watching The Chosen, that is certainly understandable, and I would encourage you not to sin against your conscience by watching it. However, these revelations do not somehow magically change the actual content of the episodes, nor my evaluation of said content. In other words, I biblically evaluated what I saw in the episodes, so the remainder of this review stands.


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.

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Gina’s Story

Gina’s Testimony

I grew up in a Lutheran home. I heard about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, about believing in Christ and His death and resurrection- and doing good works. I didn’t hear about my desperate need to repent of my sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation though. I was reassured my baptism, confirmation and good works kept me in good stance with God.

I was a kid that hardly got in trouble. At 18 I met my soon to be husband. He was a cradle Catholic and his parents were devout. After we married and I was pregnant with our first child, I decided to become a Catholic too. As a so-so Catholic, I figured I was a good enough person to make clearance on Judgment Day being I didn’t murder anyone or rob banks. I believed any other small sin of mine was forgiven through the works I did and because I believed in God.

I was around 23 years old, a wife and mother to a one-year-old. I started watching John Edwards. He is a practicing medium with his own talk show. I found it entertaining. I definitely questioned the validity of it all, but I was still intrigued and tuned into every episode. I thought either the man’s claims were true or the whole show was a farce. I didn’t even think about there being a third option- like say…demonic deception.

I soon found myself deep into something I NEVER thought I would be. It all started off with me seeing a figure of a man walking behind me as I stared at a darkened computer screen with the lamp on behind me. No one was there when I turned around. I wondered, an overactive imagination or a ghost? I tried to ignore it. But soon followed several other encounters; hearing voices, seeing things move that shouldn’t and even feeling a mouth blow hard in my ear as I sat in my living room. I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore. Most people seemed hesitant to believe me, except those in the Catholic faith, kid you not, who would then proceed to tell me their own stories! I knew my experiences were real, I knew I wasn’t making it up. I was just trying to make sense of it somehow. Someone reminded me that the previous owner of our house talked about someone dying in that house years before. So I started entertaining the idea of a dead person making himself known to me. I stuck with that story, because I really didn’t know what else to think.

Weeks after all of this began I entered college. I enrolled in Psychology 101 and about a week into the class our fun-loving, charismatic teacher started talking about her ability to read people’s auras, tap into past lives and speak to dead people (yes Psych 101 at a decent college. Be warned parents! The college let her stay there for years knowing she taught this stuff during and after class. Scary!). She told us it was a “gift” she had since the age of 4. She would go around the class and tell people what injuries they had, what they had done earlier that day, etc. Some kids seemed uncomfortable with her unexplained knowledge, yet with all that had been going on in my own life, my ears perked up and I was intrigued.

One day, early on in the semester, she made the statement that when we find a feather in a peculiar place, it’s an angel telling us we are on the right path. The VERY next day while taking a shower I reached up to put shampoo in my hair and felt something poking out of my hair- it was a HUGE feather!! I mean, it was a big one, not a soft little fuzzy one. I thought, hmm, maybe this lady’s teachings were the right path and an angel is telling me so? As silly as it sounds, when you are given a “sign” that seems to validate prior feelings or information, it gets your attention – and without necessary discernment you are soon locked in.

I became locked in as I kept hearing voices and having unexplained spiritual experiences. This teacher would invite a few of us naïve ones to hang out at her place and call on the dead. She would school us on all the ins and outs of the spiritual world, on her experiences and how to orchestrate our own encounters. She taught us “thought-ology” as she called it, which is the practice of thinking positive thoughts enough that they come true because of the energy they possess (I later found out this is what Word of Faith circles teach, but with all the right words). She would give us Bible verses (and twist them) to show us that reincarnation was biblical and she would tell us that we had past lives and that we need to tap into those lives to grow in our knowledge. I was taking notes, buying books she recommended and worst of all, telling my family and friends all of this ‘wonderful’ insight, trying to get them to fully endorse it. Most did. I was reading auras on other people, using crystals and tapping into the spiritual world as this woman had instructed me. The semester ended but we kept in touch over phone and I met with her and a few others occasionally. This teacher would tell me, while in front of the others, that I have a special gift in the spirit realm and would treat me with special gifts and praise. I enjoyed the limelight. Boy, I was in deep. Blech!

A week after 9/11, I realized my husband found someone better. I was headed for a divorce while pregnant, in the middle of college and unemployed. I was utterly devastated. It was extremely difficult, but it was the very thing I needed in order to eventually fall on my knees before God. At a low point, when I felt I couldn’t trust anyone, not even myself, I remember crying out, literally, “I just want the truth. Is there such a thing?!” I desperately hoped that God, if there was a God, would help me. The “dead people” sure weren’t helping!

My aunt Tami was recently saved herself and heard of what happened. She also knew of my history in the occult. She took the opportunity to reach out to me in truth. Email after email she talked to me with much patience and compassion, yet with boldness and clarity, the Word of God. I kept arguing against her beliefs with things I believed to be true in the occult practices. But as hard as I argued, she didn’t waver – and I still listened. After all, I claimed to be a Christian, shouldn’t I be ok with talking about the Bible? I began to be very surprised with myself – of how irritated I got with Scripture and the name of Christ being discussed for more than a few seconds. I could tolerate an hour long church service at the Catholic and Lutheran church talking about God but 5 minutes of Aunt Tami talking about Scriptures or Christ, was torture.

As months went by and as I tried to rely on the occult practices for strength and guidance, I would see more holes appear in its authenticity. This would eat at me! I tried so hard to make it all fit. I poured more into the occultic books to reassure myself. I had sold this so hard to everyone, including myself, so I wanted to hang on to it even harder. My psychology teacher had taught me that we have the control over spiritual beings, spiritual matters, and all outcomes in our live if we just thought right. But seeing that wasn’t exactly panning out, I didn’t know what to do about it.

Right after my daughter was born I moved back to my home town to be closer to family. Looking back I could see God working in getting me there. What would end up being the most crucial part of the whole thing was the fact that God was moving my aunt Tami back there as well. After we were both moved into the same town we would visit one another, just getting to know one another even better. She would increasingly bring up the truths of the Scripture to me; of how to be saved.

One day I went over to her house to help her paint. We were side by side painting a wall when we both heard a man’s voice say VERY loud and clear as if he was yelling at the back of our heads, “Hey!” We both quickly turned around and saw only our little kids playing behind us. Then we both looked at each other and simultaneously said, “did you hear that?!” All of a sudden my right shoulder started to tingle and her left shoulder started to tingle really hard as if something was standing right in between us. She said later that when that happened she first freaked out a little but knew right away what was happening – it was apparent that God was allowing her see the world that I was living in; the world of dark, demonic deception. Right after it happened, she silently prayed and I just kept saying, “See, this is what I’ve been talking about!” She came over to me with fervency and said something like, “Gina, these are demons. There is no such thing as dead people walking around. In Christ’s presence, the demons tremble. Jesus is the only One Who can make the demons flee out of your life.” I believed her for some reason, probably because God had been working on my heart. I was relieved to know the identity of the spirits that kept taunting me and that there was someone who could deal with them once and for all, Jesus!

Shortly after that incident, she convinced me to attend a Bible group. I wasn’t sure if I could handle an hour or so of talking about Jesus and Scripture so I was hesitant but I loved spending time with the other women and talking. After attending a few times we were discussing a Scripture verse on ‘inheritance’. I think the verse literally slapped me across the face. I can’t remember the Scripture reference because at that time I didn’t pay attention to those things, but God was letting me know that I will not share in His heavenly inheritance if I don’t repent and go to Christ in confession and faith.

At that moment, without making it aware to anyone else, I understood exactly what I needed to do! I don’t remember anything right after that, just getting home and running to my bedroom, falling down to the floor and crying to the Lord Jesus to forgive me, something Tami had told me many times before that I needed to do. I finally saw that I didn’t really have Him but that I needed Him and I wanted Him. Instantaneously my eyes were opened. I remember standing up and realizing I saw sin differently, or rather for the first time. I remember thinking, “oh my, lying and bad language is such a sin” I was thinking of family and friends and the desperate state they were in and knowing I had to tell them about their need for Christ. I soon went to all those that I shared the occult with and told them I was wrong, it’s demonic and Christ saved me out of it. I asked for their forgiveness and I gave them the Gospel. I looked at my precious kids, who were so little and unaware of what was going on in my life, and knew life just drastically changed for them too! Praise God!

From that day on I was going 100 mph towards God. I could finally understand God’s Word so crystal clear (it no longer seemed as if I was reading a different language!) and I soaked in it. I talked till early morning with Tami on the things of God and asked a billion questions. I joined Bible studies, attended Christian seminars and ate, drank, and slept Jesus! I couldn’t get enough of His Word. He poured so much life and truth into my heart as I read His Word, it was beyond amazing. I eventually got what I asked for on that dark day I cried out for truth. God in His great mercy gave me saving TRUTH. Thankfully, not too long after my salvation, I was able to witness my sister’s salvation and transformation. What a blessing!! I just think of how awesome it is that God saved Tami, my sister and I within just a few years time. Thankfully so – because as the Lord was growing us the devil was attacking us and we were able to lean on the Word together to encourage one another in God’s truth as we battled. Thankfully I now also have a solid Christian husband who encourages me to live out my faith; who I lean on for encouragement as well.

Tami was right. Demons were kicked out once Christ gave me new life. But they were not happy about it and the attacks came in different ways, especially when I tried to share my faith- but I kept remembering the power that I possessed, the Lord, and because of Him I was no longer in their snares and thankfully became less and less naïve to their devices.

I’m reminded often when reading the Word and thinking back at what Christ saved me out of that I must put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). Christians these days want to turn a deaf ear to a lot of what Satan is up to. It sometimes frightens them, yet there is nothing to fear when we are in Christ. Sometimes demonic activity just doesn’t concern them and they end up buying what the demons are selling in a saint’s suit. Christ just wants us to be aware of the powers that want to destroy us so that we can resist them by holding fast to the Truth of God’s Word. Through Christ we have victory!

Since my salvation, I have a growing desire to witness to those who are lost but to those especially ensnared in Catholicism, mysticism, spiritism (which is heavy in Catholicism as they do much conjuring of the dead, supposedly) and other false teachings-some of the avenues through which Satan tries to kill, steal and destroy.
Demons are clever, fast and seasoned. They parade as an angel of light/godly, or as something innocent and non-threatening. We need to be on the alert. Tami was the ONLY person in my life to warn me of the dangers that I was entangled in and to give me the Gospel straight up. I’m forever grateful! And I believe we all need to do more of that.

I was a sinner deserving of Hell. I was what Revelation 21:8 speaks of, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” I was also what Leviticus 20:6 speaks of, “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, He didn’t let my story end there.

By the way, I tried to reach that psychology teacher after I was saved. She wouldn’t answer the phone or respond to my messages. I’ve continued to pray for her and all of her students over the years.

I was saved from MUCH. ALL glory to God! I most definitely cannot boast. Thank you Lord Jesus!


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Try to be brief (3-4 paragraphs or less) if possible. I’ll select a few to share on the blog another time. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!