Celebrity Pastors, Discernment, False Teachers, Word of Faith Movement

Throwback Thursday ~ Of Mega-Blogs and Molotov Cocktails

Originally published January 30, 2014megablogs molotov

I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids, and I’m Not screaming-womanSorry, screamed the headline. Quite an attention grabber. It certainly grabbed mine. So, of course, I read the article.

It was brash. Extremist. Rude. Rather one dimensional and completely devoid of nuance. And it made me mad, too, since I used to be a young woman with a husband and kids. (“Used to be,” as in, I still have the husband and kids and I’m still a woman, but “young” would be a stretch at this point.)

I was all set to write a blog post in response about the value of wifing, mothering, and working outside the home. You know, whatever God has called you to. So as prep for my article, I read the article again. And again.

And, like a toddler yanking at the hem of my skirt to get my attention, an epiphany pushed and shoved its way into my consciousness.

It wasn’t real.

Or maybe I should say: I suspect it wasn’t 100% sincere.

Have you ever visited a mega-blog like Buzzfeed or Mashable? They churn out tons of cheap content every day, glasscandy-532959which means lots of hits on their web sites and lots of posts that go viral, which means lots of money from advertisers. (Nothing wrong with that, but it’s usually not terribly deep stuff. Sometimes people want a little mind candy, and that’s OK.)

Guess what? Lots of people want a piece of that pie and it’s easier to copycat than to innovate, so there are lots of other upstarts out there trying to become the next mega-blog. Like Thought Catalog, which published the aforementioned article on young women with husbands and kids.

As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and in a PR move that would make even Miley Cyrus chartreuse with envy, Thought Catalog threw out a Molotov cocktail of an article, stood back, and watched the crowd gather. Nearly a quarter of a million shares on Facebook. Almost 2000 re-tweets. Over 11,000 comments. From a PR standpoint, there’s pretty much no choice but to admire them.

Is Amy Glass, the author of the article, a real person? Maybe she is, or maybe it’s a pseudonym for someone who works for Thought Catalog as a content writer. If she’s a real person, are these her genuine thoughts and feelings, or did she throw in a hearty dose of hyperbole to push her readers into clicking, tweeting, sharing, pingback-ing, and writing response articles?

I don’t know.

There’s a lot of deception going on out there these days (I’m not saying Thought Catalog is being deceptive. Honestly, I haven’t poked around over there enough to know.) and it’s not just “out there.” It’s inside the walls of the church, as well.

joel_osteen-false_prophetThere are plenty of “Buzzfeed” pastors, leaders, and Christian authors who are throwing out cheap content and bombshells…

…2014 is going to be the year God turns everything around for you!
…Just say what you want! If you can say it, you can have it!
…God wants you to achieve all your dreams, so reach for the stars!

Joyce-MeyerThe glass breaks, the flames fly, and the crowd gathers. Their churches are overflowing with people. Their books become best sellers. They’re invited to speak at all the big conferences. And when the little guys start copying them and their methods, they know they’ve arrived.

But are they telling you the truth? And if you’re one of their devotees, how do you know whether or not they’re telling you the truth? Do you even want to know, or are you just happy with being entertained or being told what you want to hear?

There’s a way to find out. Get your Bible out and study it. Don’t just give it a surface reading– do the work and dig. Use the brain God gave you and pursue the knowledge of His word. Ask Him to open your eyes to understand the truth of Scripture. Love God with your mind, not just your emotions. Don’t be deceived.

Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.
Proverbs 1:29-33

Discernment, Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: “God Used a Discernment Ministry in My Life”

Recently, there’s been a lot of pushback against online discernment ministries. There’s no question that some of them are vile and ungodly, and the perpetrators of these sites, in many cases, should face discipline from their home churches. But that doesn’t mean that all online ministries that do discernment work are bad or should be banished. I’d like to share with you the testimonies of some sisters
who have been helped by discernment ministries.


If it wasn’t for online discernment ministries I would still be a Beth Moore groupie, a tossed salad Christian who accepted everything and everyone that called themselves “Christian”.

I just want to say if it wasn’t for women who teach about discernment, I know I would be so lost believing false teachers because I did follow [a false teacher]. I’m so grateful I found out about this person and will not follow that person anymore. I thank you for your how you have helped me see the truth and set me free.

If it wasn’t for discernment ministries I would still be in the Assemblies of God church that has gone Emergent, and I wouldn’t have known about the New Apostolic Reformation movement that my Foursquare Church embraced in the 90’s and almost messed up my theology and eschatology. My spirit was bearing witness and I was alone…. [Discernment] ministries explained and named the names with real research and quotes and videos and the abundance of SCRIPTURE to help me “armor up”!!

For two years I adored Priscilla Shirer and felt like I got to know God better. My fire for His Word did come alive…but after seeing that she belongs to the false teachers “club”, and with your encouragement to just TAKE THE BIBLE AND STUDY IT – I AM doing it! My heart was sad and upset and frustrated that I might have been led astray from true Bible study principles for too long and too far, but this morning God led me to Philippians 1:18: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,”. It removed my guilt and anger… I am thankful for the circumstances that He used to get my attention and get me back to His Word, and I am excited to do it the RIGHT way this time!

I just want to let you know that your site has been a tremendous blessing to me. I’ve been praying for a long time and my prayer has been, “Lord lead me and guide me into Your truth. Direct my path. I want Your truth. I want teachers and pastors who teach Your truth.”

For the last 10+ years, I was a regular attendee of [churches I now know were] Word of Faith/prosperity/positive speaking and thinking churches and I just couldn’t understand why I was continuing to die spiritually. I had faith. I tithed faithfully and I still couldn’t understand why I had no “real” visible victory in my life. Although I had seen, heard and experienced strange things, I remained because I did not want to church hop. But then things took a real dive and I could not remain any longer under those teachings.

I did several Google searches seeking biblically sound churches in my area; what and who false teachers are (I never expected to find lists naming people); biblically sound teachers/pastors, etc. Your website came up in the search along with a few others and a site for finding a biblically sound church. I am now at a church where expository teaching is done (first I knew anything about such; the pastor is a Master’s Seminary grad). I’ve watched many of Justin Peters’ and John MacArthur’s YouTube videos and from your site, I’ve discovered good women teachers to follow.

Step by step, I’m letting go of the false and wrong teachings and beliefs that were a part of my learning. I love how Justin Peters says (and I’m paraphrasing) “If you want to know God’s will, read the Bible. If you want to hear Him speak, read the Bible out loud.” WHAT??? That right there blew my mind in overdrive. You mean there’s no deep mystery, going deeper, secret prayer, speaking it into existence, secret handshake or sowing of seeds that I need to perform or do to know what God’s will is?

It’s really unlearning a lot of the wrong/false/bad teachings and learning God’s word for myself.


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

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 5- Eve

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Read Genesis 3:7-4:2,25

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review Lesson 4 (link above).

2. Compare the serpent’s statements to Eve in Genesis 3:4,5 with verse 7 and the remainder of today’s passage. Were his statements factually correct? Did Eve die when she ate the fruit? Were Adam and Eve’s “eyes opened”? How can a statement be factually correct and deceptive at the same time? Have you ever been tempted to sin by facts that were correct, yet deceptive?

3. What two things did Adam and Eve do in verses 7-8 in response to their sin? Why did they do these things? (10) Compare Genesis 2:25 to verses 7-8,10 and explain the concept of shame as it relates to sin. How did shame over their sin cause Adam and Eve to act toward God? In what ways can shame over our sin be a blessing?

4. What three questions does God ask of Adam and Eve in verses 9, 11, and 13? Did God ask these questions in order to find out information He did not know, or to elicit a response or confession from Adam and Eve? Does God ever ask someone in Scripture a question He doesn’t know the answer to?

5. Why did God call out Adam first (9) instead of Eve? Whom did Adam blame for his sin? (12) Yet, whom did God hold primarily responsible (in a “the buck stops here” kind of way) for the fruit-eating debacle: Adam or Eve? Why? Did God give Eve a pass on her sin? (13) How did the fact that God held Eve accountable for her own sin demonstrate that He created her, and womankind, with intelligence, understanding, her own abilities, etc.?

6. Examine 1 Timothy 2:12-14 in light of what we have studied about the creation of Eve and the deception of Eve in lessons 4 and 5 of this study. How does the fact that verses 13 and 14 (of 1 Tim. 2) give the creative order and the deception of woman as the rationale for verse 12 help us to understand that this instruction regarding the role of women in the church is universal (to all women at all times in all cultures), not just limited to the time at which Paul wrote 1 Timothy?

7. In what order (who is 1st, 2nd, 3rd?) does God mete out the consequences for sin? (14-19)? Compare this order to the order in which the deception and sin took place in Genesis 3:1-6. List the consequences God gave the serpent, Eve, and Adam. What do each of these consequences mean, and how are they still impacting us today?

8. Verse 15 is often called the protoevangelium. Who does “her offspring” refer to in a broad, general sense? (20) Specifically? How did Satan “bruise” Christ’s heel? How did Christ “bruise” Satan’s head? How does this “gospel in the Garden” help demonstrate that redemption through Christ was God’s plan from eternity past?

9. Put yourself in Eve’s (as yet non-existent) shoes and imagine yourself hearing God speak to Adam in verses 17-19, beginning with the phrase, “Because you have listened to your wife…”. What are some of the thoughts and feelings that might have been running through Eve’s head? How might this have motivated her to be a better helper to and a godly influence on Adam in the future? Have you ever influenced your husband or someone else you love to sin and then had to watch him suffer the consequences?

10. Examine verse 21. What were Adam and Eve’s “garments” previously made of? (7) Did God find the fig leaf garments acceptable? What did God have to do in order to obtain skins for new garments that would be acceptable to Him? Have we previously seen the death of a living creature in the book of Genesis? Why are we now, in verse 21, seeing death enter the world? How does this sacrifice of animals to cover the sin and shame of man point us to the gospel? How do Adam and Eve’s fig leaf garments needing to be replaced by garments made by God introduce the idea that we cannot cover up our sin by our own efforts, but that God Himself had to provide a sacrifice to both cover our sin and clothe us in the righteousness of Christ in a way that was acceptable to Him?

11. What precautions did God take to make sure man would not live forever in a fallen world? (22-24) How does this demonstrate God’s mercy?

12. What do we know about Eve’s life after her expulsion from the Garden? (4:1-2,25) What do Eve’s statements about Cain’s birth (1) and Seth’s birth (25) tell us about her ongoing relationship with and attitude toward God?


Homework

Thinking back over what we know of Eve’s life, from her creation to the birth of Seth, make a list of three of Eve’s characteristics or actions that teach us how to be godly and three of her characteristics or actions that teach us to avoid being ungodly. Find a specific way to implement at least one of these life lessons from Eve in your own circumstances this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Genesis 3:15

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 4- Eve

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

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Genesis 3:1-6

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

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Questions to Consider

1. Review what we learned about Eve – the kind of person she was, her responsibilities, the world in which she lived – from lesson 3 (link above).

2. Read Genesis 3:1-6 in light of 1:26-28 and 2:19-20. There are three constructs in these earlier passages to note: a) Eve was made in God’s image, b) Eve was to exercise dominion over Creation, and c) no animal was found suitable as (“corresponding to”) a helper to Adam so that God had to specially create Eve. How did these three constructs impact (or how should they have impacted) Eve’s interaction with the serpent? Was she acting and speaking as an image bearer and representative of God? Was she exercising dominion over this creature? Was she being the helper to Adam that God created her to be?

3. What is the serpent’s question to Eve? (1) How did Eve answer? (2-3) Compare 3:1-3 to 2:16-17. What are the discrepancies between what God said and what the serpent quotes Him as saying? Between what God said and Eve’s answer to the serpent? Did God give the instructions in 2:16-17 to Adam and Eve? (hint: see 2:15-18) How might this account for the difference in God’s actual instruction in 2:16-17 and Eve’s understanding of His instruction in 3:2-3?

4. Examine the serpent’s remarks to Eve (1,4-5). How would you characterize this deception – was it an obvious, 100% lie, or a twisting of the truth? In what specific ways did each of the serpent’s statements twist God’s words? Eve had both the spoken words of God and personal knowledge of His nature and character. How could Eve have been a good Berean in her interaction with the serpent? How were the serpent’s remarks a form of “extra-Biblical revelation” (when someone purports to speak for God outside of God’s written Word)?

5. Remember that, at this time (3:1-6), Eve was in a face to face, personal relationship with God, unmarred by sin, much like a Christian’s relationship with God in Heaven will be. Think about how she would have wanted to relate to God in this perfect situation. Would it have been tempting to Eve to do something that she knew was blatantly wrong (ex: murder, lying)? Considering how she would have wanted to please God, honor God, and know Him better, in what ways was the serpent’s temptation a “perfect fit” for Eve? Was he tempting her to do something she thought was evil or something she thought was godly?

6. Think back over your answers to questions 4 and 5. Do you see any similarities between Satan’s twisting of God’s words and the way false teachers twist God’s Word today? How can you be a good Berean when you examine the words of a pastor or Bible teacher? Why is it so important to compare everything you’re taught to God’s written Word for yourself, even if the teacher says she’s telling you what the Bible says? As a Christian woman, desiring to please God, honor God, and know Him better, as Eve did, do you see how you might be deceived by false doctrine or “new and improved” ways to please Him that He has not commanded in His Word?

7. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” How does this statement relate to Eve in 3:1-6?

8. Why did the serpent approach Eve (1) instead of Adam? Consider the many strengths God has hardwired into women and how the serpent manipulated Eve, using her qualities of trust, giving the benefit of the doubt, kindness, etc., against her. How do these Scriptures relate to this aspect of Eve’s temptation?

9. Examine verse 6. What three things did Eve see about the tree? How did the tree tempt her sense of practicality, her flesh, and her emotional desires? In what ways can today’s false teachers tempt women in these three areas? Should we give in to these feelings, desires, and temptations as Eve did, or should we obey God’s Word in spite of temptation and our feelings and desires as Eve should have?

10. How did Eve’s sin influence Adam to sin? (6) How did Eve sin against God by failing at her job as Adam’s helper? In what ways do we influence our husbands, children, fellow church members, and others to sin when we give into temptation? How would this passage have ended differently if Eve had acted as a good Berean and properly fulfilled her role as Adam’s helper?


Homework

Examine a teaching video from a “Christian” celebrity such as Paula White, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, or T.D. Jakes. Listen for phrases such as “God says…”, “God wants you to…”, “Christians are supposed to…” and other definitive statements the teacher wants you to believe are from God or from the Bible. Each time you hear such a statement, pause the video and ask yourself, “Where does the Bible say that (in context and rightly handled)?” Use your Bible, Bible Gateway, or a concordance to “examine the Scriptures to see if these things are so.” Are there any ways in which this teacher is twisting God’s Word or tempting your flesh, emotional desires, or sense of practicality, to believe something about God or His Word that isn’t true, or to disobey God?


Suggested Memory Verse

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Genesis 3:1

Christian women, Discernment

Sammy

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See this dog? His name is Sammy and he belongs to our next door neighbors. The way I know this is that Sammy frequently escapes from their yard and comes over to visit mine.

Sammy’s a good egg. He’s friendly and just looking to collect a few more buddies. He’s also dumb as a sack of hair and totally disobedient to his masters. He runs when they tell him to come. He stays in my yard when they tell him to go home.

A few days ago, I went for my regular power walk and Sammy happened to be out in his own front yard. I headed past his house for the pond where I usually walk, and soon noticed that he was following me. I turned and told him to go home. Sammy sneezed in protest and completely disregarded my instruction. OK, I thought, I’ll ignore him, he’ll get bored, and he’ll go back home. Problem solved.

Only it wasn’t. Sammy continued to follow me for the next half mile or so, far away from his home. I was worried he’d get lost on his way back. I was worried he’d get hit by a car on his way back. I was worried he’d never BE on his way back. I was also a little worried people would think this hare-brained dog was mine and yell at me when he explored their flower beds.

Finally, a little farther down the road, I turned around and Sammy had disappeared. He must have made it back home all right because he’s still getting loose and visiting my house pretty regularly.

Sammy reminds me of a lot of Christian women these days. They have a Master – Christ – who loves them, provides for them, cares for them, and has adopted them into His family. And because Christ loves them, He has put up the fence of His word and His precepts to keep them safe and protected- to give them a place where they can flourish in Him.

But these “Sammys” refuse to be hemmed in, either because they’re ignorant of God’s word or they’re rebellious against it. All they know is that there are a million fun and exciting things on the other side of the fence. Things they feel like doing and experiencing.

And one day, when they’ve put a toe over the line by wandering around in the front yard instead of the back, a false master strolls by. She’s different. New. Shiny. A change of pace from the regular routine. This master isn’t Sammy’s real master. She doesn’t care for Sammy, keep her safe, provide for her, or make sure Sammy grows and flourishes. But this false master is exciting. She’s going to the pond Sammy has always wanted to visit. She doesn’t put up fences, get out the leash, or holler, “Come!” She lets Sammy do what Sammy wants to do. And she leads Sammy farther and farther away from her home with her true Master.

Some Sammys manage to find their way back home. Some get hit by cars along the way. But most just keep wandering from one false master to another, forgetting that their true Master never intended for them to end up a stray.

Go home, Sammy. Sit, and stay.