Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Reliance on God and His Word Women’s Conference

It was such a blessing to speak last weekend at Princeton Bible Church’s Reliance on God and His Word women’s conference. I was tremendously encouraged, and I hope you will be too as I share a bit about the conference with you.

PBC is beautiful and homey

Thursday evening was a delicious potluck dinner with the ladies of PBC. I’ve learned two things from traveling around to different churches: 1) church ladies are the same everywhere you go (And why wouldn’t we be? We’re all sisters in the same family!) so I always feel at home, and 2) church ladies know how to cook! A wonderful time of good food and sweet fellowship was had by all (which is why I forgot to take a picture – I was too busy enjoying myself!).

Amy Spreeman and me

On Friday, at long last, I got to meet my dear friend, Amy Spreeman, for the first time face to face. What a gift this woman is to the body of Christ! Intelligent and well-studied, wrapped in the grace, humility, and compassion becoming of a woman of God, Amy is a joy and a delight. It has been my pleasure to recommend Amy and her uber-helpful materials at Berean Research and Berean Examiner many times here at the blog. I was honored to share the stage with her at the conference.

Getting ready for the first session

Friday night was the opening conference session. My talk centered around the theme of the conference, Reliance on God and His Word, and dealt with the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and the necessity of God’s Word in our daily lives.

Saturday’s festivities kicked off with an ample breakfast in the gym for all. Sustenance is necessary for a full day of Bible teaching!

Amy’s main sessions and breakout session centered around discernment, false gospels, and the New Apostolic Reformation. I found the sessions helpful and informative, and I’m sure all the other ladies did, as well.

My main session explored applying the sufficiency and authority of God’s word to our every day lives in the areas of obedience and godly decision-making. In my breakout session we discussed the application of Scripture when dealing with situations of sin and suffering.

The ladies were also treated to sessions from one of the lovely ladies of PBC, Deb Bullington, as well as a missionary who spoke about her experiences.

You can listen to the audio from the conference at PBC’s website.

First Thessalonians 5:18 was a verse I used in one of my sessions, so I was delighted to see this hanging just outside the sanctuary.

A long day of teaching, fellowshipping, and answering questions builds up quite an appetite, so after parting from these wonderful women of God, PBC’s Pam, Erika, and Erika’s husband, Mike, whisked me off to The Prime Quarter Steak House where I continued my travel tradition of eschewing souvenirs in favor of eating the food most iconic to the locale – in this case, hearty Midwestern beef.

The Prime Quarter offers the option of grilling your own steak!
I decided I had had enough excitement for one day and left it to the professionals.

I loved seeing the picturesque farmland of Illinois.
This beauty is right across the street from the church.

PBC’s women’s committee kindly made sure I got some souvenirs anyway: regionally harvested honey, locally made chocolates, a magnet of Princeton, and a journal (which just happens to have my favorite flower {pink roses} and a verse from my favorite Psalm {37} on the front).

After a lovely Sunday morning service worshiping with my brothers and sisters at PBC, it was time to say goodbye. Many thanks to Pam, Erika, Mike, Justin, Curtis, Jessica, and all the hard-working men and women of Princeton Bible Church for your sweet hospitality and for putting on such a wonderful conference. I highly recommend this warm and welcoming church to anyone in the Princeton area who is looking for a doctrinally sound body of Believers to join.

If your church 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:

1- Photos courtesy of Princeton Bible Church
2- Photo courtesy of Amy Spreeman
3- Photos courtesy of The Prime Quarter Steakhouse (Facebook)
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Memphis

A couple of weekends ago I had the blessing of speaking at Providence Baptist Church’s spring women’s conference. It was such an encouraging experience I wanted to share a little about it with you.

Pastor Kelly & Gayle Smith, Scott & Michelle Lesley

What a joy it was to finally meet my Twitter friend Gayle, who heads up the women’s ministry at Providence, and her husband, Pastor Kelly. PBC generously and graciously hosted not only me, but also my husband and two of our sons, for the weekend. After we arrived in Memphis Friday afternoon and got settled in to our lovely hotel rooms – hospitably stocked by Gayle with every snack two teenage boys (and their parents!) could dream of, as well as some charming locally made gifts – Gayle and Kelly took us out for – what else? – barbecue!

Corky’s BBQ not only had this amazing sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, they had a phenomenal Memphis specialty, the Sweet Tea Fried Chicken Sandwich. They marinate the chicken filet in sweet tea overnight before frying it. There are not words, y’all. You’ll just have to find a Corky’s and order this delicacy for yourself.

On Saturday, the gents set off to see the sights of Memphis, including the iconic Memphis Pyramid, which now houses a spacious Bass Pro Shop (yeah, you might have to be Southern to grasp the attraction)…

…while I was treated to the sights of a beautifully bedecked PBC, all set to welcome the ladies coming to the conference.

(Trust me, if you want to be sure
the women of your church see something,
put a flier in the ladies room!) 

One of the primary issues Christian women need instruction on today is the centrality of the Bible in our lives and our churches, so that was the core message of the two sessions I taught. In the morning session, The Necessity of the Bible, we focused on the fact that Scripture is the very words from the lips of God Himself, our desperate need for the Bible, and practical ways to import more of God’s Word into our daily lives.

After a delicious luncheon and warm fellowship, we gathered again for Recapturing Sola Scriptura: The Sufficiency and Authority of Scripture. In this session, we zeroed in on the folly of extrabiblical revelation, the supremacy of God’s Word, and the need for our lives and our churches to be ruled by rightly handled Scripture.

You can read some of what I spoke about in my Basic Training series articles:

The Bible is Necessary
The Bible is Sufficient
The Bible is Our Authority

I couldn’t have asked for a kinder reception
or a sweeter group of ladies!

There was just enough time for a brief rest, and then it was off to another Memphis favorite, Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, for supper. These folks know how to do chicken spicy, just like I like it!

Sunday morning was a warm time of worship and fellowship with the saints at PBC under the excellent preaching of Pastor Kelly. What a kind and welcoming church body this is! If you’re looking for a friendly, doctrinally sound church in the Memphis area, I couldn’t recommend one more highly than Providence Baptist of Bartlett.

If your church 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:

1- Photos courtesy of Gayle Smith, Providence Baptist Church
2- Photo courtesy of Corky’s Memphis (Facebook)
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)

Mailbag, Speaking Engagements

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Joni’s testimony, “Messy”, Female seminary profs…)

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!

Our church has a ministry for the homeless where once a week, lunch is provided and a Bible Study is given usually by a woman, occasionally by a man to a mixture of both men and women. Some might be saved, probably most are not. What are your thoughts in regard to this situation from a Biblical perspective?

Great question! I’ve answered it in #11 of my article Rock Your Role FAQs.

We watched a video of Joni Eareckson Tada speaking at a recent Shepherds Conference. She gave her testimony and shared the meaning of Scripture and what some Greek words were so there was teaching going on as well as testimony. I know she is thought of highly but I was wondering about her speaking and teaching to groups of men.

Joni is not someone I follow closely, though I did read her first book, Joni, when I was a teenager. John MacArthur heads up the Shepherds Conference, which is a conference for men in church leadership, particularly pastors (“shepherds”).

Just to give a little background for anyone not familiar with him, Dr. MacArthur is a staunch complementarian and is a doctrinally sound pastor, teacher, and author I am happy to recommend to my readers. He would never invite a woman to preach at ShepCon nor invite a doctrinally unsound speaker. So I trust Dr. MacArthur’s judgment and reasons for inviting her to speak – that he was not inviting her to preach.

That foundation being laid, there are instances in which it is perfectly biblically appropriate for a woman to speak in front of a co-ed Christian group or a group of Christian men, and giving her testimony – so long as she does not veer off into preaching (instructing and/or exhorting men in the Scriptures) – is one of them. I’ve written more about that, giving examples, in these articles:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#7, 14)

The Mailbag: Should women give testimonies and reports, lead prayer and worship in church?

I have not listened to the talk Joni gave at ShepCon. It is possible that I would think her explanations of Scripture crossed the line into teaching, but it is also possible I would not. I just can’t say since I haven’t listened to it. (I would not consider giving the definition of a Greek word or two to be the type of biblical instruction prohibited by 1 Timothy 2:12.)

I would be more inclined to look at Joni’s history and intentions. Did she come to ShepCon with the intent of preaching or instructing men in the Scriptures? Does she have a track record of preaching sermons or giving Bible instruction to men at conferences? If the answer to both is no and she is normally very careful to stay within the parameters of biblical womanhood, I’d be inclined to extend grace on any bobbles she made during her testimony at ShepCon. It’s a very fine line to walk, and I’m sure I would probably make a few mistakes too if I were in that situation.

Update: Thanks to reader DebbieLynne (see comments section) for the heads up that Joni actually gave her testimony at the Strange Fire Conference (2013, also spearheaded by John MacArthur), not at the Shepherds Conference. Strange Fire was co-ed rather than men only. Whether or not women were in attendance at the conference doesn’t really change my answer to the reader, but it’s good to have the facts straight.

Is it OK for women to teach pastors-in-training at seminaries?

John Piper recently answered this question on an episode of Ask Pastor John. You should read his response for yourself (it’s not long), but, essentially his answer was that experienced pastor-mentors should be training up young pastors, and since it is unbiblical for women to serve as pastors themselves, they lack the experience necessary to mentor pastors-in-training. And, my word, the egalitarian world had a fit – including Beth Moore and her daughter Melissa (who helps run Beth’s ministry):

While I consider him to be a generally doctrinally sound brother in Christ, I’m not particularly a fan of John Piper, but I do want to say that I think his answer was taken wildly out of context by those pushing unbiblical agendas, that he was treated shabbily by many on social media, and that I thought his answer was very good, biblical, and just plain old made sense. Women are not qualified to serve as pastors. Why on earth would we want them training pastors? Moreover, what student wouldn’t want the most qualified and experienced professors he could get for his tuition money?

Let’s say you were the dean of the neurosurgery department at a medical school. A gentleman, totally blind from birth, comes in and applies for a position teaching surgical practicum (cutting, suturing, removing tumors, etc.). He has held positions teaching various subjects at other universities so his ability to impart information is not in question, but he has never performed surgery in his life because he’s blind. Would you hire him to train neurosurgeons to perform brain surgery?

The reason Dr. Piper’s answer caused a bit of a kerfuffle is that he limited his answer to the question he was asked. Imagine that. He was asked if women should train pastors and that’s the question he answered. The agenda-driven screaming neemies took his answer of “no” to mean that no woman should ever teach anything to anyone in any seminary anywhere ever. That is not what Dr. Piper said. He said women should not train men for the pastorate.

I would have answered the same way. However, if I were to expand on Dr. Piper’s answer, what I would further explain is that most seminaries (at least the ones I’m familiar with) do far more than simply train men for the pastorate. Take the seminary my husband attended for example, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. If you’ll click on the “Academics and Admissions” tab at the top of the page and examine the various degree and non-degree programs, you’ll find that most of them are not strictly preaching programs. There are programs for women’s ministry and children’s ministry (Surely we wouldn’t say women are unqualified to teach in these areas?), college ministry, urban ministry, music ministry, missions, counseling, languages, and many more. There’s nothing wrong with women teaching things like music theory, finance, general education classes like math, history, and English, archaeology, legal issues, languages, business, etc., even in a seminary.

There are definitely some classes women shouldn’t be teaching in seminaries, but there are plenty of other classes that would be fine for them to teach.

Since we’ve become parents my husband and I have mostly attended churches that were larger and offered childcare. We were saved out of Mormonism eight years ago which has its own order of services and no childcare provided for the main service, but I don’t know what to expect from a Christian service that doesn’t offer childcare. I don’t know what will be expected of me and my family. I have a four-year-old and I worry that he will end up running around or asleep on the pew. Do we call ahead? Pack a busy bag? Are snacks alright? How do you ever get anything out of the service for yourself?

Before I answer, I want to encourage readers who are experienced church members to really let this precious sister’s question sink in and inform the way you respond to visitors and new members. Increasingly, the people who are new to your church will have very little church background. Church culture may be old hat to you, but it’s like landing on Mars to many of them. They have no idea where to go or what to do, and they don’t speak Christianese. Make sure you warmly welcome and encourage newbies and let them know that it’s OK to ask questions.

I think my article Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church will help with some practical tips and expectations. You should not allow your child to run around the sanctuary during the worship service any more than you would allow him to run around a restaurant if you went out to eat, or a store if you were shopping, but I would not get overly stressed about him making a few minor noises or dropping the occasional Bible during church. If a church doesn’t offer childcare, they’re surely used to children making a little noise during the service from time to time. Sermon-time naps at four years old are not the end of the world, but you’ll want to curb those as he approaches school-age (if he can stay awake all day in school, he can stay awake for 30 minutes or an hour in church).

Until your child gets into the routine of attending worship and learns how you expect him to behave, you may not get very much out of the service. That’s just one of those parts of being a mom that we all have to accept – like stretch marks :0) But if you will be consistent and diligent as you train your child, he’ll get with the program soon enough.

When you ask if you should “call ahead”, if what you mean is calling the church office prior to Sunday and asking any questions you might have, that is a super idea! Most pastors I know would be delighted to chat on the phone or in person to welcome you to the church and help you feel at ease. That is the point at which I would ask about snacks. Different churches have different policies about food and drink in the sanctuary. I’ve never heard of one that wouldn’t allow a baby bottle, but some may not be keen on the idea of Cheerios ground into their carpet. You could also ask if they have a “cry room”. Some churches have set aside a room near the sanctuary where you can take a fussy baby or jumpy toddler. Many of them have the sermon “piped in” so you can listen until you go back into the worship service. You might also want to ask if the worship service is recorded and posted online so you can listen at home to any parts of the sermon you may have missed. Never be afraid to ask an honest and polite question.

I have been hearing the word messy a lot in reference to our lives..has this word replaced the word sin?

Well…I suppose it may have for those who are trying to sand off the sharp edges of the gospel, but the biblical term is sin, so that’s the correct word to use, despite how popular “messy”, or any other trendy word, might be.

Can you recommend any doctrinally sound female speakers for women’s events?

(I promise this is an actual question I recently received, not one I made up for promotional purposes! :0)

Yes, me. Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page for more information.

If I’m not really your cup of tea, or I’m too far away for your travel budget, I happily recommend any of the women listed under the “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab at the top of this page (although I’m not positive all of them do speaking engagements).

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.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: New Jersey

Last weekend I had a wonderful time speaking at Corbin City Baptist Church’s women’s conference and fellowshipping with some sweet, godly sisters (and their equally awesome pastor!). I wanted to share a bit about it with y’all, my co-laborers in Christ.

After Randy (CCBC’s pastor), Cathy (his wife), and Linda (who graciously opened her home to me for the weekend) picked me up from the Philadelphia airport, we went to Adelphia Restaurant for supper- a must visit if you’re ever in the area. Great food and a fun atmosphere.

A good night’s sleep was had by all, and the next morning it was conference time! I taught two sessions: Foundations of Discernment: The Centrality of Christ, His Word, and His Bride and Discernment 101, followed later by a Q&A session, which I thoroughly enjoyed. (Normally, I would re-post the conference sessions here on the blog in article form, but both were largely drawn from my Basic Training articles, Is She a False Teacher?, Clinging to the Golden Calf, Popular False Teachers, and other discernment articles.)

Several of the ladies drove quite a way to attend the conference, as doctrinally sound churches are few and far between in the Northeast. There was a broad range of spiritual maturity and experience represented, but these ladies were sharp, attentive, receptive, and asked great questions. I sensed a real hunger among them for sound doctrine and the unadulterated truth of God’s word. What an encouragement it was to be with them!

The lovely ladies of CCBC

And, speaking of hunger, CCBC’s ladies put on a lovely brunch with a seaside theme between the two sessions. They also presented me with a humongous tote bag full of goodies and New Jersey souvenirs. These ladies treated me like a queen and epitomized biblical hospitality and kindness. It was extremely humbling and I was deeply honored.

After the conference, Cathy, Linda, and another CCBC sister, Theresa, whisked me off to the Ocean City boardwalk, which would have been worth the trip solely for the mouth-watering aromas wafting from dozens of food stands. Oh. my. good. ness. I’d like to stay for about a week and eat my way from one end to the other! We stopped at Shriver’s, a huge candy shop famous for its fudge and salt water taffy, where we got to watch part of the process of taffy-making.

I was so sorry I hadn’t been able to bring my husband and children with me. They would have loved the arcades, mini golf, ferris wheel, water slides, shops, and, of course, the beach. It was unbelievably kind of Cathy to buy some world famous Johnson’s Popcorn to send back to my kiddos.

              Wonderland Arcade                    Johnson’s Popcorn

Those dots in the sky are people parasailing

It was fun to walk back across the intracoastal waterway bridge to the car, and the breeze coming off the ocean was cool and energizing. It was the perfect appetite-builder for an awesome dinner of fish and chips (I love that they put Old Bay spice on the “chips”!) before heading back to the house, and a much needed soak in Linda’s relaxing hot tub.

Sunday, it was such a joy to worship with the CCBC family and sit under Randy’s excellent expository preaching. After hugs goodbye, it was time to head back to the airport. I had a wonderful time chatting about ministry with Cathy and Randy on the way. When we stopped for lunch, I had the opportunity to try one more specialty food of the area: scrapple. Not too bad, but I think I’ll stick with the taffy and fish ‘n’ chips!

It was a wonderful trip filled with such sweet people. Would you take just a moment right now to pray for Pastor Randy and our brothers and sisters at CCBC? And, if you live in, or travel to, the Corbin City area, I highly recommend visiting Corbin City Baptist Church.

There’s a historic bell up in that tower
that they still ring every Sunday!

If your church 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:

1- Photo courtesy of Adelphia Restaurant, Deptford, New Jersey
2- Photos courtesy of Leslie Kohler, Corbin City Baptist Church
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Cape Cod

Last weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at a Christian women’s conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with a lovely group of godly women, and, since many have asked about it and prayed for me, I wanted to share a little about the trip.

I arrived in Boston Thursday evening and was met by Maria, one of the women’s ministry leaders. She and her husband were kind enough to open their home to me the first night of my trip.

You know you’re in a good host home
when you find these on the night table!

Friday morning I finally got to meet my precious Twitter friend, DebbieLynne, in person. DebbieLynne is actually the one who recommended me as speaker for this conference. Thanks, Deb! (If you don’t already follow her blog, The Outspoken Tulip, check it out!)

This is what it looks like when, instead of “cheese,”
you say, “Everybody say ‘false teachers’!”
to a couple of discernment divas.

Friday afternoon, we arrived at the hotel in Cape Cod and got settled in. Then the women’s ministry leaders took me out for a lovely dinner. When I travel, I always like to try whatever dish that area is best known for, so, of course I ordered some clam chowder. It was great!

When this restaurant says a “cup” of soup,
that’s exactly what they mean!

After dinner, we went back to the hotel, and I taught the first of four sessions on the topic of suffering: Christ, the Suffering Servant.

Something pretty amazing happened Saturday after the morning session on The Theology of Suffering. I was standing near the exit door as closing announcements were being made, and a hotel worker (I’ll call her “Linda”) opened the door a few inches and motioned for me to come out into the hall with her. Linda asked me what who this group was and what was going on, so I explained that it was a group of ladies from a nearby church who had come to the hotel for a conference.

Linda then began to pour out her heart to me, that, in addition to her father’s recent death, her daughter’s medical problems, and her own health issues, she had been struggling with alcoholism. She felt too shy to go to a group recovery meeting and wanted to know if there were someone in our group who could help her one on one. I stepped back into the conference room and retrieved Julie, the pastor’s wife, hoping she might have some resources that could help Linda.

After hearing Linda’s story, Julie stepped back into the conference room and retrieved Maureen. Guess what? Maureen and her husband have a long standing ministry of one on one discipleship for people with substance abuse problems! We were able to pray and share the gospel with Linda and get her connected to Maureen for follow up.

Oh, and that talk I’d just been giving on the theology of suffering? My closing point was that one of God’s good purposes for suffering is that suffering can cause lost people to cry out to God for salvation. Lost people like Linda.

I was overwhelmed by God’s sovereignty in this situation. These ladies could have chosen a different weekend or a different hotel for this conference. Maureen could have skipped the conference. Linda could have called in sick that day or been too shy to stick her head in the door. My talk could have been about some other topic. But God kindly pulled back the veil a little and let us see how He orchestrated all of these things to bring the gospel to a suffering soul who needed Jesus.

Saturday afternoon, Maria and Julia graciously took me on a drive to see the sights around Cape Cod. Even though it was rainy, windy, and cold, the view from the coast was beautiful, as you can see.


I also got to see Nobska Lighthouse, which was constructed in 1876…

…and the oldest Episcopal church in Cape Cod, Church of the Messiah.

The church was founded in 1852,
with this stone structure being built in 1889.

Some people collect stamps.
I collect pictures of the steeples of churches I’ve visited. 

Unfortunately, this “church” now touts itself as “inclusive” (read: homosexuality affirming), committed to “environmental justice,” and is led by the “Reverend” Deborah.

After another awesome seafood dinner (I LOVE SEAFOOD!), we returned to the hotel, where I taught session 3 of the conference: Rejoicing in God’s Promises During Suffering.

Sunday morning was a sweet time of worship and fellowship, and the final session of the conference: The Christian’s Response to Suffering.

After a quick check out from the hotel, it was back to the airport in Boston for the ride home.

What a lovely weekend! When I’m teaching a group of ladies, I can always tell whether or not they sit under a good pastor, and this group certainly does. If you live in the Boston area and are looking for a good church, I could not recommend First Baptist Church, Weymouth, more highly.

If your church 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.