Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Home churches, Non-Calvinist authors, Memes from false teachers, Contrarian commenter?)

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


What is your view of home/house churches?

My approach to home churches – small groups of Christians who meet in someone’s home to have a worship service together rather than attending an established local church- is:

  • I urge extreme caution when considering a home church
  • Start/attend a home church only as a last resort when you can’t find an established, doctrinally sound church within achievable driving distance of your home.
  • View the home church as a church plant (the home church will grow into an official, established church, rather than staying a home church)
  • Have a proper, biblical ecclesial structure (a biblically qualified pastor/elders/deacons, conduct worship gatherings according to biblical parameters, etc.)

I elaborated on this issue a little more in my article Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly:

I want to be clear that I advise [starting a home church] only as a last resort after exhausting every possibility of joining a biblical established church. I have known of people who withdrew from established churches because of doctrinal problems, and instead of searching for a sound, established church, decided to form a house church, which then fell into other doctrinal problems of its own. House churches can be very vulnerable to doctrinal error.

If you must meet with other believers outside of an established church, make sure whoever is pastoring the group is biblically qualified to do so, and that your home church carries out all of the components of a biblical church: Bible teaching, worship, prayer, care for members, the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and church discipline. There are many wonderful, trustworthy resources such as sermons, Bible teaching, and Bible study lessons available on line for free. Take advantage of them. You may also wish to contact your denomination’s headquarters, a reputable missions organization, or a doctrinally sound church planting organization and ask about the possibility of a missionary or church planter coming to plant a new church in your area.

In countries with governments which outlaw Christianity, underground home churches are the only option. That is not the case in America and most Westernized countries yet, though we are headed down that road. Until that time, I would strongly urge Western Christians to join with an established, doctrinally sound local church (keeping in mind that no church is perfect, and most won’t meet all your preferences), and if there isn’t one in your area, either contact a church planting organization or move to an area where there is an established, doctrinally sound church.

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians


Are there any non-Calvinist/Reformed authors you would consider solid?

There are probably scads of them, but – and it might surprise you to hear this – I don’t check to see whether or not someone is Calvinist/Reformed before deciding whether or not to read or listen to his materials, and consequently, I often don’t even know which soteriological label he wears. All I care about is whether or not he rightly handles Scripture and behaves in submission to Scripture.

I’m frequently on the receiving end of the accusation, “You just think anybody who’s not a Calvinist is a false teacher!”. It’s simply not true. That’s not something I consider an automatic litmus test of someone’s doctrinal soundness. The vast majority of the churches I have personally been a member of have not even had a Calvinist/Reformed pastor.

I’m sorry I can’t provide you with any specific names. Read people who handle Scripture correctly. That’s the best counsel I can give.

(Just a reminder, readers, I don’t allow Calvinism vs. Arminianism arguments in the comments sections of my articles. Comments like this won’t be posted.)


Just wondering how you respond to quotes/memes, etc from unbiblical teachers when it appears there’s nothing wrong with the quote/meme? A family member of mine often posts memes like this on Facebook. Most of them deal with being kind to each other, or continuing to trust God and rather simplistic things. I don’t disagree with that particular message but don’t want her to get caught up in false teaching.

I’m taking this to mean something like Lysa TerKeurst sharing a Bible verse meme or Beth Moore sharing a meme that says, “Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life,” or something like that. In other words, the content of the meme itself is in line with Scripture, but it has the name of a false teacher attached to it, and that’s what makes it problematic.

There could be a couple of different things happening here. It could be that your family member follows and is a fan of the false teacher she’s reposting. Or it could be that a Facebook friend of hers or some sort of “inspirational quotes” page she follows shared the meme and she is just re-sharing it having no idea who the false teacher is or what she teaches.

I would suggest contacting her privately in an e-mail or private message on Facebook (even if this is someone you see face to face regularly, because an e-mail or message is less confrontational and emotional, and also allows you to provide information more easily) and very lovingly, gently, and briefly say something like this:

Hi Laurel-

Hope you’re having a great day.

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I appreciate your heart for encouraging people on Facebook with the memes you post. So many people are hurting these days and are in need of a kind word.

I’m sure you didn’t realize it, but you’ve posted a couple of memes from Priscilla Shirer and Christine Caine, both of whom teach and do some very unbiblical things. As a Christian, I know you would never want to lead anyone astray from Scripture, even accidentally, so I thought I’d pass along this information on them to fill you in on where they’re coming from. If you have any questions or want to chat about it, just let me know.

Priscilla Shirer: https://michellelesley.com/2015/09/18/going-beyond-scripture-why-its-time-to-say-good-bye-to-priscilla-shirer-and-going-beyond-ministries/

Christine Caine: https://michellelesley.com/2016/03/04/chhave-no-regard-for-the-offerings-of-caine/

Love,
Kristy

And then I would leave it at that unless she brings it up and wants to talk. You can lead a horse to Living Water, but only the Holy Spirit can make him drink. :0)

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

Words with Friends by Amy Spreeman

Words with Friends at A Word Fitly Spoken (several great resources in the show notes)


Several years ago I had a falling out with a friend when I warned her about a false teacher and she vehemently disagreed. Since that time, she has begun following more and more false teachers, and has started a blog which centers around extra-biblical revelation. Recently, she asked me to subscribe to her blog. Is it proper for me to get involved with a blog with which I will be in total disagreement and arguing theology probably constantly? Should I join and be the only voice of Biblical reason?

It’s interesting, knowing your disagreement with the false teacher you initially warned her about, that she would ask you to subscribe to her blog. Is it possible she just sent out a blanket invitation to everyone on her e-mail list or to all her Facebook friends, forgetting that you were on that list? If you think that’s the case, and she wasn’t really inviting you personally, I would just ignore the invitation and go on my merry way.

If, however, this really was a personal invitation to you, my counsel would be to drop her a note (similar in tone to the one in the section above) saying that you really appreciate the invitation to subscribe to her blog, but that you find much of the subject matter of her blog to be unbiblical. So if you do subscribe, you will feel compelled – fairly often – to comment with biblical arguments against what she has written. And because of that constant state of argument, you don’t think it would be a good idea for you to subscribe to her blog.

As a blogger, I can tell you that I don’t like it when a person takes it upon herself to constantly argue against or attempt to correct my theology, and if that person keeps it up after being warned, she usually gets blocked or banned. My thought is, “If you’re so diametrically opposed to what I write, why in the world are you following me? Go find a blogger to follow whom you agree with and enjoy, or start your own blog for sharing your opinions.” So, since I know what that feels like, I try to extend that same courtesy to others. I don’t generally* follow blogs, social media accounts, etc., that I strongly disagree with and constantly argue with them. It rarely does any good or changes anyone’s mind. Better to hang on to your pearls and stay out of the pig pen.

You may find some of my thoughts in my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful since this is a similar situation, but I would still lean toward encouraging you not to follow your friend’s blog and argue constantly.

*(In the interest of full disclosure there is one Twitter account I follow – LifeWay Women – which I strongly disagree with most of the time because they promote false teachers. This is an agency of my denomination, not an individual, and I occasionally tweet refutations to/about them in order to make my fellow Southern Baptists on Twitter aware of the false teachers/doctrine their own denomination is promoting, and because my previous attempts to contact LifeWay privately have either been ignored or rebuffed. Still, I try not to constantly barrage them with argumentative tweets.)

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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…)

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 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


I was saved in 2011 and am seeking direction on how to live my new life in Christ. Prior to my conversion, I was a romance writer (think: Harlequin). The writing bug still haunts me. I love writing and I’m attempting to write a Christian romance novel. I don’t feel like writing Christian non-fiction would be a fit for me. I have a strong creative desire for writing and graphic design. Is there a place for my fiction work for women? I’m praying about it. Any thoughts you have would be welcomed and helpful in how I pray about it.

Aw, a kindred spirit! Maybe that’s why this question warmed my heart so much, or maybe it’s because it’s profoundly touching and encouraging to hear from any Christian woman who is genuinely seeking how she can best glorify God with the gifts He has given her.

As I was contemplating your question, my husband’s favorite verse kept coming to mind:

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

The verse itself is appropriate to the situation, but so is its immediate context. Whatever we do – whether it’s something as significant as our vocation or as mundane as eating supper – we should do it in a way that glorifies God, represents Him well to others, and leads people toward Christ.

How many Christian romance novels have you ever read that do those things well? Not many, I’m guessing.

One of the ways the Holy Spirit leads us is by the way He has wired us. God has fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us with unique talents and abilities. We are bent toward some things and away from others. It brings honor to God when we submit to the way He created us and use the gifts He has given us to serve others and to serve and glorify Him. Perhaps your bent toward writing fiction is God’s way of leading you to write fiction that glorifies Him and points people to Christ, and to do it well. That’s something you could pray about.

As you plan out your next storyline, ask yourself some questions like:

✏ Is there a way I can pull back the curtain on God’s glory here?
✏ How can I point the reader to Christ in this scene?
✏ Is there a (rightly handled, in context) passage of Scripture I can add here?
✏ How can this character set a biblical example (of what to do, or not to do) for the reader?
✏ How would I summarize how this finished product brings glory to God and points the reader to Christ?

I would encourage you to continue praying and asking God for wisdom and guidance. Take advantage of every opportunity (writing-related or not) He sends your way, and steward it for His glory. You might also find my article The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations to be of interest.

And don’t forget: Look back over the parables in the gospels. Jesus authored a lot of God-glorifying “Christian fiction”! :0)


For mothers who homeschool their sons, what are some ways to get more masculine influence during daily school lessons (when fathers are usually at work)?

Honestly, and speaking as a mom who has home schooled three sons, I wouldn’t worry about it unless your husband is absent from the home (military, work travel, etc.) for extended periods of time or doesn’t come home at night until the kids are already in bed.

I mean, think about it, the typical family structure since the dawn of Creation has been for Mom to stay at home and raise and nurture the kids (girls and boys) and for Dad to go out and tend the crops or make the widgets or close the business deals, and there’s nothing in the Bible that indicates that your boys will be lacking male influence because of this. The manliest men in Scripture were raised this way. Jesus was raised this way.

If your sons are spending time with Dad when he comes home in the evening and on weekends, if he’s reading them stories and throwing the ball around with them and taking them to monster truck rallies and having them help rake the leaves and wash the car and things like that, they’re going to be just fine.

I would encourage you to instead steward your energies toward walking out in front of your sons what it looks like to be a godly woman, because that’s part of God’s ingenious plan of giving boys such a close relationship with their mothers during their formative years. Every day, you are training them up to be godly men and husbands by showing them the kind of woman they should be looking for in a wife, and how their future wives and children should be treated.

Don’t worry, and entrust your boys to the Lord. He will take care of all of you.

You might find my article The Mailbag: How Can Christian Moms Raise Godly Men? to be helpful.

(And not to leave out moms of girls, here’s Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman)


My new daughter-in-law is learning English, but her first language is Spanish. I’d like to give her some good, doctrinally sound books and resources in Spanish. Where can I find these?

I would check Grace to YouLigonier, and HeartCry Missionary Society (Paul Washer). I know they all have books and resources (sermons, articles, etc.) in Spanish, and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on the site, you can contact them directly, and they can point you in the right direction.

And keep an eye on the comments section of this article. I’m sure my readers can suggest some great resources in Spanish, too.

Thanks for being such an awesome mother-in-law!


I am Lutheran. My church is very Scripture-based. I have been asked to run for church council for education. Do you think it is against Scripture?

Hello, you lovely Lutheran lady! I’m afraid I am too ignorant of what a Lutheran church council for education does to say whether or not it’s against Scripture.

I’m intrigued by the idea of “running” for a position of service in the church. I’m not sure actual campaigning for the position is in keeping with doing things decently and in order, but I guess that would depend on how it is done. And perhaps what you mean by “running” is that you’ve been nominated and you have to be approved by a vote of the church, but there’s no actual campaigning involved? I can’t see any biblical problem with that.

But I’m guessing the main thrust of your question is whether or not a woman should be serving in this position. As I said, I don’t know how this council functions, so I can’t give you a thumbs up or down. The best I can do is to tell you that as long as the position doesn’t require you to teach Scripture to men, exercise authority over men, or do anything else that’s unbiblical, and as long as your husband (if you’re married) is OK with you filling the position, it should be fine.

Let me offer you a couple of other resources that might be helpful:

1. Check out my articles Jill in the Pulpit and Rock Your Role FAQs. They may help give you a better idea of whether or not you should take the position.

2. My go-to guy for all things Lutheran is Chris Rosebrough. He is a doctrinally sound Lutheran pastor and host of the Fighting for the Faith podcast. I would recommend you contact him. He does a bit of traveling, so if he’s not able to get back to you right away, I would suggest you join the Facebook group that supports Fighting for the Faith and ask your question in that group. There are oodles of good solid Lutheran members who could probably help.


I’m praying for you…Here’s an encouraging word of Scripture…Here’s how God has used your writing to work in my life…

I have the best readers in the world – the best. I can’t imagine that any other writer has readers who are sweeter and more encouraging than y’all are. Hardly a day goes by that one of you doesn’t love me well by dropping me a few words that are so much kinder than I deserve.

I just want you to know that, while you may not think that’s much of a ministry, it is. It keeps me going and keeps me sane on the days when all the crazies are attacking and I feel like quitting. Your kindness matters. And I know it matters to all the other  people in your life that you’re being kind to, too – your family members, your friends, your co-workers, even strangers on the street. Don’t grow weary in the well-doing of ministering encouragement to others. It matters.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has offered me gracious words over the years. You are very much appreciated and loved.


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 ~ February 27, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Sheologians posted a great episode: Almost: Our Encouragement & Concern with the IF:Gathering. They explained some of the things that attract women to this conference as well as the theological problems with it. They have also published a follow up blog post, Almost: an addendum since releasing this episode. I’ve added both to my resources on IF at the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page.

 

Tim Challies simply and handily explains 2 Timothy 3:6-7 in this 2016 article, Capturing Weak Women.

 

 

Women’s Hope Project recently started a new Bible study on Galatians on their podcast. A free study guide is available.

 

 

 

All main sessions, breakout sessions, and Spanish sessions of the 2018 G3 Conference: Knowing God- A Biblical Understanding of Discipleship have been uploaded to the G3 app, so download the app to access some awesome teaching. All of the sessions were phenomenal, but if you only have time for a few, I’d recommend starting with the (three) Martha Peace and (two) Justin Peters breakout sessions. You can also register for next year’s conference on missions and get the early registration rate.

 

Do you enjoy writing? Even if you don’t, I think you’ll like these 7 Writing Tips from Charles Spurgeon.