Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Breast cancer resources, What does “cruciform” mean?, Yoga-ta find a new church?…)

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


 

Should women serve as the worship leader/minister of music of a church?

No.

If I answer a question in a co-ed Bible study/Sunday School class, am I “teaching” men in violation of Scripture?

No.

Is it biblical for a woman to lead a prayer during the worship service?

It is not technically a violation of the letter of 1 Timothy 2:12, but I would discourage it for other reasons.

I’ve heard people say it’s OK for women to preach or teach the Bible to co-ed groups as long as they are doing so under their pastor’s and/or husband’s authority. Is this true?

No.

I’ve received the first three of these questions again recently, so I thought it would be a perfect time to take the opportunity to remind everyone of a little resource I think might be helpful for you: my article Rock Your Role FAQs. The first question is answered in #16, the second in #4, and the third in #15. I just added the fourth question to the article. It is #20. And don’t forget to read the other articles in my Rock Your Role series, too!


Do you have any book recommendations for a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer?

Let me just start my answer by saying two things. First, I’ve taken a moment to pray for you (or whoever the woman is), that God will help you through this difficult journey and bring you comfort and peace. (Readers, will you also please take a moment to pray?)

Second, it drives me absolutely batty when I ask for a recommendation on social media for a Christian book on a particular topic and people answer in a joking, or smart aleck, or holier than thou way: “the Bible.” Obviously, the Bible is our first “go to” for every issue in the Christian life, but sometimes we need a book that can also teach us about the Scriptures that pertain to our issue.

So please understand that the first part of my answer is not meant to sound flippant or self-righteous, but to assist you in finding a good place in Scripture to park yourself. And my recommendation is going to be to get into Psalms and stay there for a while. You might also find that praying the Psalms back to God is very helpful. There is a great deal of comfort, peace, and strength for trying times in that book.

As for books outside the Bible, I have not read it myself, but I have heard trustworthy people say that John Piper’s¹ booklet Don’t Waste Your Cancer is very good. You may wish to check out Joni Eareckson Tada’s² Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: Life After Shock. Joni is a breast cancer survivor and has written a number of books on suffering that you might also find helpful, though most are related to disability, not cancer. Additionally, I would recommend anything John MacArthur has written on the topic of suffering, such as The Power of Suffering, as well as anything at Ligonier. If you’d like something short and free, I’ve written several articles on suffering that will point you to a variety of Scriptures you may find helpful.

You may wish to keep an eye on the comments section of this article, as other readers will probably also have some good recommendations.

(Note to readers recommending resources: I believe the lady who sent in the question is looking for theological resources on how to cope with breast cancer biblically, not medical/holistic/other treatment resources. I’m not qualified to dispense health advice, so those types of recommendations will not be posted.)

¹John Piper is not someone I normally proactively recommend. I’ve explained why HERE.
²Over the years I have received three or four questions about Joni’s actions and theology, but she is generally regarded as doctrinally sound. AS with any Christian author, read discerningly.

Is there a biblically sound Reformed private forum where I can ask some questions about my salvation? I am not in a church.

Since you’re specifically looking for a forum type of interface, I would recommend the (women only) Theology Gals Facebook group. I don’t know what “flavor” of Reformed you are, but it is mostly Presbyterian (though, in the past there has been a large contingent of Reformed Baptists in there too). If you are looking for a good Presbyterian church, they should be able to help.

You can also try my Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page. It leans more Reformed Baptist/Reformed Bible church, but there are other denominations, non-Reformed, and non-denominational churches, too.

When you say you’re “not in a church,” I’m hoping what you mean is that you’re in the process of trying to find a solid church but haven’t yet. If that’s not the case, and your intention is to stay out of church altogether, please be advised that this is not in keeping with Scripture. The Bible knows nothing of a “Lone Ranger” Christian. Please give my article Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians a read.


I have a question regarding the Cruciform Conference that you’ll be speaking at. There is only one person I’ve heard use that term “cruciform” before and it was Ann Voskamp. What does it mean exactly? Also curious what you’ll be addressing there?

I actually had a couple of ladies ask me this question after I announced that I would be speaking at the Cruciform Conference this fall. I am so glad you asked rather than wondering if it had something to do with false doctrine!

The word “cruciform” simply means “cross-shaped“. I’m really excited to be speaking at a “cross-shaped” conference, where all of the teaching will center around the cross – we can’t let false teachers have all the good words! :0)

Also, lest anyone mistakenly think I will be teaching men at this co-ed conference, I will not. I will not be teaching any of the main sessions. I will be teaching two breakout sessions for women:

Faithfully Fighting Feminism:
Fighting the Good Fight by Walking Out Biblical Womanhood
and
Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Emotions

Get your tickets quickly since space is already filling up! (This would make a great Father’s Day present!)

 

 


My church recently started having yoga classes. I spoke to my pastor about it and he didn’t see a problem with it because they use Bible verses and don’t use the lingo typically used in yoga. But they use the word yoga to promote their classes. Do I find a new church?

For those unfamiliar with the theological issues related to yoga, or “Christianized” yoga, as this reader’s church seems to be using, please see my article The Mailbag: Should Christians do yoga?

Since I don’t know all of the issues and circumstances at your church, I can’t definitively tell you whether or not you should leave this church.

If this is the only theologically problematic issue at your church and there are no other doctrinally sound churches within reasonable driving distance of your home, I would lean towards recommending that you stay where you are and wait out this class (it probably won’t last forever), praying your kneecaps off in the meantime, and kindly and gently explaining your biblical reasons for not attending the class to anyone who asks.

If there are multiple theological problems at your church (and I suspect there might be if your pastor sees nothing wrong with yoga) and there are other doctrinally sound churches in your area, I would lean more towards exploring those other options for a church. The Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page may be helpful for you.

This is something you will need to pray for wisdom about, and possibly seek counsel on from a mature Christian friend. Of course, if you are married, you and your husband will need to discuss and pray about it together, and you will need to respect his final decision on the issue.


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 (Nabeel, Spiritual Leadership, Essential Oils…)

 

Today’s edition of The Mailbag is a tad different in format. Usually, I answer one reader’s question in a long form article. Today, I’m addressing various questions from several readers in a “short answer” format.

Just a reminder- I changed my comments/e-mail/messages policy a few months ago, so I’m not responding individually to most e-mails and messages. Here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Have you heard of Nabeel Qureshi? What do you think of his teaching and ministry?

I know little about Nabeel except that he was saved out of Islam and now has a ministry that centers on evangelizing Muslims. I’ve never listened to him speak or read any of his books, so I can’t comment one way or the other on the doctrinal specifics he teaches.

However, he is not someone I’d recommend anyone follow. Tragically, Nabeel was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, and shortly thereafter decided that the thing to do would be to head to Bethel “Church” in Redding, California to have them pray over him for supernatural healing. If you’re not familiar with Bethel, or its leader, Bill Johnson, you may wonder why that’s problematic.

It’s problematic because Bethel is basically ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation heresy- the most dangerous and destructive heresy attacking the church at large today. Dozens of Christians familiar with NAR false doctrine urged Nabeel on social media not to go to Bethel, and Nabeel blew them off, went anyway, and came back downplaying Bethel’s false teaching as minor, inconsequential differences in theology.

Nabeel also apparently believes in extra-biblical revelation as evidenced by this July 2017 Facebook post:

Cancer is a horrid, painful ordeal. I sympathize with Nabeel’s suffering and have prayed for him. But as our Lord so beautifully demonstrated at His temptation in the wilderness and on the cross, even the worst kind of suffering is not an excuse to compromise Scripture or disobey God.

Popular False Teachers (Bethel/Bill Johnson)
What is the New Apostolic Reformation?


Do you have any resources you’d recommend for women who are married to men who aren’t leading spiritually?

I know it can be really frustrating and painful when you desperately want your husband to be the spiritual leader of your home and he either can’t (because he’s not saved) or he won’t (due to spiritual immaturity, fear, disobedience, etc.)

I’m sure there are books and resources out there that at least touch on this topic, but I don’t read a lot of materials about marriage, so I’m not familiar enough with any to recommend them. (Perhaps someone reading this might like to make a suggestion in the comments? Doctrinally sound authors only, please.) Grace to You’s resources and store and Ligonier’s learn and store are always a good place to look for solid books and resources.

There are a few things I would recommend aside from marriage books, however:

♦ Pray for your husband, and be prepared that you may be in it for the long haul. If he’s not saved, pray for his salvation. If he’s saved but disobedient in this area, pray for his obedience, and ask God to show you how to encourage and help (not nag) him along the way. Ask God to increase your love, understanding, and compassion for your husband.

♦ If your husband is saved and willing to lead but feels inadequate, see if you can find him some help – a Christian men’s group, an older gentleman in your church who’d be willing to disciple him, some counseling sessions with the pastor – if he’s open to the idea of you helping or suggesting in this way. Be careful not to be pushy or bossy about these things or harp on him about attending.

♦ Be faithful to your personal Bible study time. First of all, you need it. Second of all, it sets a good example for your husband.

♦ Any time your husband makes the slightest step toward godly spiritual leadership, encourage him and affirm his leading. That sounds easy right now, but, at least early on, part of that is going to include you submitting to some decisions he makes that you don’t agree with. As long as those decisions aren’t unbiblical, grit your teeth and submit, because…

♦ The Bible says your behavior can have a tremendous impact on your husband. Take some time to study 1 Peter 3:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 7 (especially verses 12-16). These passages both deal with wives who have unbelieving or disobedient husbands, and how our behavior can either encourage them toward godliness or become a stumbling block to them.


Is it dangerous to be involved in yoga even though I don’t practice the meditation part of it? I just like the stretches and exercise I get from it. What are your thoughts?

“Dangerous” isn’t the word I’d choose. “Disobedient” is a better fit. Here are my thoughts (remember, the search bar is your friend):

Should Christians do yoga?


What’s your take on this essential oils craze so many Christian women seem to be into?

There are a lot of different facets to this question:

♦ Some companies who make and sell essential oils and some people who use them do so in conjunction with beliefs in chakras, energies, auras, and all that New Age movement jazz. (Sola Sisters and Christian Answers for the New Age have more in depth information on those issues.) No Christian should be dabbling around in occultic beliefs and practices.

♦ The oils themselves are spiritually “inert,” so picking up a bottle at the store is not a sin (though you might want to do a little research on the store and/or company that makes the oil to make sure you’re not financing beliefs you don’t want to support).

♦ There are multi-level marketing (MLM) businesses that sell essential oils in the same way people sell Tupperware or Pampered Chef. If that is the business you have chosen, make sure you’re not selling for a company that subscribes to the New Age stuff I mentioned above, don’t annoy your friends, and don’t make a practice of doing business at church. If you have a friend who MLM’s non-New Agey essential oils and you want to buy some, that’s absolutely fine, biblically speaking.

♦ If essential oils work on your minor ailments and that’s what you want to use instead of over the counter medications, there’s no Scriptural problem with that. Just be a good steward of the body and health God gave you and make sure you get proper medical attention for symptoms and illnesses that require it.


I read your article, Should Christians Attend Homosexual “Weddings”? and wanted to know, should Christians attend the wedding of a Christian and an unsaved person? What about the wedding of two unsaved (heterosexual) people?

I would advise Christians not to attend the wedding of a professing believer to an unbeliever due to Scripture’s admonition against this in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. As with a homosexual “wedding,” Christians should not be supporting, participating in, or giving the appearance of supporting, sin, and a believer marrying someone he or she knows is an unbeliever is sin.

There is no biblical prohibition against an unsaved man and an unsaved woman getting married, so unless there are other grounds on which you cannot support the union (for example- you know he abuses her or you know she’s been cheating on him during the engagement), you would not be supporting, participating in, or appearing to support sin by attending the wedding of two unsaved heterosexual people. (May I suggest a couple’s Bible or Bible study book as a wedding gift?)


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.