Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Waterford, California Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And check out these lovely decorations:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Photo Credits

Photo of chopping block courtesy of South Blossom Designs.

All photos and videos of Michelle by Lisa Cowan.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Rooted in Christ Conference

What a pleasure it was to share with the wonderful ladies of Ekalaka Bible Church in beautiful Ekalaka, Montana, for the Rooted In Christ Conference.

I flew into Rapid City, South Dakota, which is just down the road from Mt. Rushmore. Since I had never been there before, Pastor Jon, his lovely wife Kati, and their super sweet kiddos, Liam and Evangeline, were kind enough to take me there for a quick tourist stop before we headed north for Ekalaka.

As if taking me to Mt. Rushmore weren’t gracious enough, they also drove me up into Black Hills National Forest where we saw Spearfish Canyon and Bridal Veil Falls. I was there a little too early in the year for the full fall color “leaf peeping” experience, but one species of tree (no idea which one) had already turned an eye-popping yellow, and those were absolutely exquisite.

As we headed up toward Ekalaka, we passed through Belle Fourche, South Dakota, where the geographic center of the United States is located, as well as Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Along the way, it was fun to see small herds of deer and antelope roaming the open fields. And have you ever seen such a beautiful sunset?

The natural beauty of Montana is stunning. Kati has quite a way with flowers. Look at these beauties at her house:

Saturday afternoon was day one of the conference, and the ladies of EBC had things looking spiffy. Check out these charming decorations:

Session one was Walking in Biblical Womanhood. We took a look – mostly from Genesis – at God’s perfect creative design for womanhood. After a delicious homemade lasagna supper, it was time for session two: Walking In Biblical Womanhood. God wants us to fill out Creation with godly womanhood, not buy into the feminist narrative that we have to be exactly like men to have any value.

Do I laugh at my own jokes? It’s a dirty job,
but somebody’s got to do it! :0)
Chatting after the conference

After a warm time of worship with the EBC branch of the family Sunday morning, it was time for day two of the conference that afternoon. Our first session was a stimulating Q&A with lots of insightful questions. Following another hearty supper of homemade soups and sandwiches, our final session was Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways.

Door prizes
My lovely hostess gifts from the ladies of EBC. The pendants each have a line from a hymn in them. Kati picked out this water bottle before she even knew I was going to be speaking on the Armor of God passage! Providence!

Bright and early (well, actually, it was really early so it wasn’t bright yet) Monday morning, I had to say goodbye to the delightful town of Ekalaka and wing my way back home. On my first flight I had the pleasure of sitting next to a very nice lady named Jodie. She and her husband were flying home from visiting some of the same sites I had seen in South Dakota, and she was kind enough to show me her pictures. Some of the pictures were of the crafts she creates and sells in her Etsy shop, and they were just so adorable and well crafted that I had to share them with you. Head on over and do some early Christmas shopping at Jodieshappyhill. (And I believe she might add some more items, so you may want to check back every now and then.)

Many thanks to Pastor Jon, Kati, the kind ladies I had lunch with on Saturday and Sunday, and all of the conference attendees and members of EBC for your warm hospitality and for making my trip so memorable. If you ever find yourself in rural southeastern Montana, I highly recommend you make it a point to visit with the fine brothers and sisters of Ekalaka Bible Church.


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


Photo Credits

Photos of Michelle speaking / chatting, conference dinner by Kati Champlin.

Sunset photo by Tina Brady.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Nashville, Arkansas, Women’s Conference

It was such a joy to be with the ladies in the Nashville, Arkansas area again at Maranatha Baptist Church’s 2021 women’s conference.

When I first saw this sign, there was a beautiful herd of cows behind it, but by the time I had a chance to take pictures, they had moooved on to greener pastures!

Last year at MBC’s conference, I spoke on biblical womanhood. This year, we tackled the topic of discernment in session one: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways. Modesty seems to be a current kerfuffle in evangelicalism, so dressing our bodies while addressing our hearts was the order of business for session two. Next was a delicious chicken salad lunch (with some out of this world cookies for dessert!). And, wow, did these ladies have some smart and insightful questions in our final Q&A session!

If you like, you can listen to the audio from these teaching sessions at MBC’s Sermon Audio page as soon as they’re posted. (The modesty session was a condensed version of the three part podcast series on modesty Amy and I recorded earlier this year on A Word Fitly Spoken.)

Hostess gifts

One of the things traveling for speaking engagements has taught me is a deeper appreciation and longing for graciousness, generosity, and hospitality, which all seem to flow so naturally from the many pastors and women’s ministry directors I’ve worked with. Those are not things at which I feel I excel, but I aspire for God to grow me in those areas. My hosts, Margaret and Tom, as well as Pastor Bruce, and everyone at MBC were so kind and treated me like a queen.

Benjamin keeping us on the road.

And last, but not least, see this guy? This is my second to youngest (19) son Benjamin. Some of you may have heard me mention on the podcast (A Word Fitly Spoken), that Benjamin is our producer, which he does out of the goodness of his heart and on top of a nearly full time job, plus church responsibilities and activities. This young man insisted on taking off work to spend two full days driving me to and from the conference and serving as my handler during the trip. I didn’t have to lift a finger for anything, and had everything I needed, thanks to him. I hope I’m not embarrassing him, but I’m just so grateful to God for blessing us with such a fine, godly young man for a son.

I had an awesome trip to Arkansas, and it was such an honor to teach the lovely ladies of Nashville. Many thanks to Margaret, Tom, Pastor Bruce, and all the hard-working men and women of Maranatha Baptist Church for your sweet hospitality and for putting on such a wonderful conference. I highly recommend this warm and welcoming church to anyone in southwest Arkansas who is looking for a doctrinally sound body of Believers to join.


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


Photo Credits

Photos of Michelle speaking by Benjamin Lesley.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Staying on the Path Conference

I had such a wonderful time of fellowship and teaching recently with the ladies of Providence Baptist Church in Opelika, Alabama, and their guests from the surrounding area, at the Staying on the Path in a World of Compromise women’s conference.

PBC was the staging area for disaster relief operations following the devastating tornado in the area in March of 2019. A beautiful memorial to the victims has been erected on the church grounds.

Providence’s WOVEN (Women Of the Vine Encouraging and Nurturing) women’s ministry put on a fantastic conference.

Everything was so nice and no detail was left unattended…

Here are some of the charming ladies who attended the conference…

I had the pleasure of teaching three sessions, God’s Word, Our Foundation – on the necessity, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture, Discernment 101 – an introduction to discerning false doctrine and false teachers, and a great Q&A session where these ladies asked some really smart questions! (Sorry, no audio of the conference sessions at this time.)

Hostess bags are never necessary for a speaker, but I’m always so humbled and grateful to receive a special treat like this, especially after a long, tiring day of traveling. Although the contents are appreciated, the gesture of hospitality and caring is so precious and meaningful to me. I’m not especially gifted in that area, and I so admire sisters in Christ who are.

April, WOVEN’s director, machine embroidered the bag (notice the monogram
on the bag is LSU purple and gold!) and the hand towel herself. So pretty!

Many, many thanks to the conference organizers, especially April and Lynda, for taking such good care of me and making me feel so at home. It was a pleasure fellowshipping with them and with the ladies who attended the conference.


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


Photo Credits

Photos by others credited in captions

Remaining photos by Michelle Lesley

Mailbag

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

As I was sifting through my voluminous pile of emails, blog comments, and social media messages to determine which one I should answer in this week’s Mailbag, I noticed that several of you have recently written in with some variation of this question. Whether it’s your pastor recommending doctrinally unsound books, your minister of music using songs from heretical sources, your women’s ministry leader introducing a “Bible” study from a false teacher, or anyone else in leadership over you encouraging the use of materials from false teachers, I hope you’ll find this article helpful and encouraging.

Originally published September 19, 2016

mailbag

How do I approach my women’s ministry leader, elders, or pastor about the false teacher whose materials our church is using, whose conference our church members are attending, etc.?

I’ve received this same basic question from scads of readers over the past few weeks. It’s alarming when your women’s ministry leader picks a Lysa TerKeurst book for the next women’s “Bible” study or the elders promote Steven Furtick’s latest conference. You love your church and don’t want to see people deceived, but you also know that people don’t often respond well to hearing that the Christian celebrity they’re enamored with is a false teacher. What to do? How can we alert our leaders to the theological problems with a popular Christian personality?

1. Pray
I’m gonna beat this drum ’til the cows come home, because this is a concept we have got to get through our heads. God knows and loves your leaders and your church infinitely more than you do, and He is far more able to do something about the situation than you are, because He is able to change your leaders’ hearts and minds and open their eyes (which is usually what’s needed). You are not. Furthermore, He wants you to depend on Him to handle things rather than depending on evidence, your own persuasiveness, etc. You should already be praying regularly for your church and its leadership. When a situation like this comes up, pray long, hard, and continuously.

2. Remember why you’re approaching your leadership.
If you’re going at this from a “they’re wrong, I’m right” perspective or some sort of desire to “win” at this conflict, you need to repent. This isn’t about you. This is about the supremacy of God’s word, the purity of His Bride, and the exaltation of His reputation. This is about loving your church so much that you’re willing to risk rejection and humiliation so that they won’t be deceived.

3. Memorize and meditate on these verses and use them as your guide when approaching anyone about false teachers/doctrine:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26

Remember, you’re the Lord’s servant, not some hot shot discernment Big Man on Campus.

Are you quarrelsome? Kind? Able to teach? Patient enough to endure evil? Able to correct with gentleness? That’s a good checklist for your heart and abilities.

Who’s going to grant repentance to the person you’re dealing with so she might come to a knowledge of the truth? You? Nope. God is.

Who’s the bad guy here? Is it the person you’re approaching? No. It’s the devil. He’s holding that person prisoner to deception. You’re not approaching an enemy to conquer. You’re rescuing a captive with spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.

4. Approach

a) Who should approach this leader?
Are you the best person for the job? Are there other willing and discerning church members who might be able to handle the situation better than you can? Sometimes you’re the only person for the job. In that case, ladies, remember your role in the church and at home. Be sure you’re submitting to your husband’s leadership in this situation.

If the person you’re approaching is the (female) leader of the women’s ministry, Bible study class, conference coordinator, etc., it might be best if you go to her alone or with another discerning sister. It is usually best to approach this person first before going over her head to the elders or pastor. You want to win your sister over to the truth, if possible, not simply force her to change things because a superior tells her she has to.

If the person who needs to be approached is male, it might be best for your husband (or another discerning brother) to meet with him, or for you and your husband to meet with him together, with your husband taking the lead and you in a supporting role. Again, it’s usually best to approach the lower level leader, if any, before going over his head.

b) How should you approach this leader?
In humility, love, and all the other characteristics from the 2 Timothy 2 passage. And keep a few other things in mind too:

First, give the person the benefit of the doubt that she’s got good motives. She probably thinks the study she’s selected would help the women of your church or that the conference would lead them closer to the Lord. It’s usually not the case that the person is consciously trying to introduce anti-biblical material.

Second, keep ignorance at the forefront of your mind. Most people in the church today – even pastors – are completely unaware of the extent of false doctrine, or even what false doctrine is, or that the majority of the most popular Christian celebrities are false teachers. They think if you can buy it at LifeWay or if it calls itself Christian and sprinkles a few Bible verses around, it must be biblical Christianity. You must initially approach people with the mindset that they’re trying to do something good, but they they simply aren’t aware of the false doctrine that’s out there or that the person they’re introducing to the church is a false teacher. (This is where “able to teach” and “correcting with gentleness” come in).

Next, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and keep in mind that it’s hard to hear that a Christian celebrity you love is a false teacher. Give the person time to sort out all this new, and sometimes overwhelming, information.

Finally, be prepared for backlash. No matter how kind, gentle, and objective you are, the person may feel personally attacked and lash out at you. Don’t lash back. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile.

c) With what should you approach this leader?
The Bible and credible evidence. For every charge you bring against this false teacher, you need to bring credible audio, video, or print evidence of the teacher’s own words or actions and the Bible passages she is violating. (You can find this kind of evidence on many teachers at the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.) Don’t bring opinions, histrionics, unsubstantiated rumors, or out of context remarks by the false teacher. Bring solid, objective, incontrovertible evidence.

Don’t overwhelm the person you’re approaching with reams of material to read or long videos to watch. She might see how time consuming it will be and give up before going through any of it. Keep things concise.

Don’t attempt to address every wrong word, action, or teaching ever perpetrated by the false teacher. Go with a few of the most attention-grabbing, glaring, violations of Scripture.

Make sure your evidence is up to date. Focus on the false teacher’s most recent violations of Scripture, not something from 20 years ago that she has repented of (in which case you shouldn’t be bringing a charge) or backed away from. Recent evidence is also more compelling.

d) How should you leave things?
Reassure the person of your love for her and for the church. Ask if she has any questions, and make sure she has your contact information and knows she’s welcome to get in touch if she has questions or needs more information. If she’s open to it, make some suggestions of doctrinally sound materials, conferences, etc., that could be used. Don’t expect an immediate resolution to the situation. Give the person some time to think and pray things through and to go over the evidence you’ve provided. It might be appropriate to ask if you can touch base with her again in a few days.

Doing all of these things is not a magic formula that will guarantee the results you’re hoping for. In fact, going by the e-mails and messages I’ve received, I would estimate that about 90% of the time, you’ll be ignored or villified as a hater or divisive.

Do it anyway. God may have placed you in that church to help it correct its course or to serve as a biblical warning to them. And, who knows? You might just rescue somebody.

Additional Resources:

How to talk to your church leaders about false teachers at A Word Fitly Spoken

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

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


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.