Discernment

Celebrate Recovery

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers or ministries, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.


I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, Bible teachers, ministries, and evangelical fads and trends, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found in the blue menu bar at the top of this page at my Popular False Teachers tab. The ministry below is one I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on it.

Below are the biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual). A ministry or trend cannot allow or encourage any of these things.

b) The pastor, teacher, ministry, or trend cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with, yoked to, or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I recommend against any teacher, ministry, or evangelical trend that violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


Celebrate Recovery
Not Recommended

Celebrate Recovery (CR) was created by John Baker, a member of false teacher Rick Warren’s Saddleback “Church”. It was “born out of the heart of Saddleback Church” with Rick’s approval and under his oversight, and, as you might expect, is fraught with unbiblical issues at nearly every turn. In the U.S. and abroad, over 35,000 churches and many secular organizations and businesses now offer Celebrate Recovery programs, and over 5 million people have completed CRs “Step Study” program.

CR is open to professing Christians as well as the lost (in the CR program at Saddleback, non-Christians make up over 70% of CR participants – see below), and is modeled after secular 12 step programs (ex: Alcoholics Anonymous). Adapting worldly means and methods for use in the church (though characteristic of Saddleback) is not biblical. The biblical means for helping a lost person deal with addiction is to call him to repent and believe the gospel, and, if he gets saved, disciple him in obedience to God’s Word. The biblical means for helping a saved person who is committing the sin of drunkenness is to follow the steps of church discipline (beginning with a one on one call to repentance and restoration) commanded in Matthew 18, and if he repents, disciple him in obedience to God’s Word.

That CR adapts worldly means and methods is abundantly evident below in the video introduction to CR (found on the CR website’s What is Celebrate Recovery? page):

  • Notice Johnny Baker (son of founder John Baker) and his wife Jeni start with the typical AA introduction: Johnny: “Hi, I’m Johnny and (rather than “and I’m an alcoholic”) I struggle with…” Jeni: “Hi Johnny!”.
  • Rather than finding their identity in Christ who has graciously saved them out of their sin, they identity themselves by their pet sins and/or problems. This teaches people to see themselves (and presents them to others) as helpless and non-responsible victims rather than victors through Christ.
  • The terms they use to identify themselves are secular and psychologized (“addiction” “co-dependency” “adult child of family dysfunction”) rather than biblical (the sin of drunkenness, fear/idolatry of man, and sinful family relationships, bitterness, unforgiveness, or whatever “adult child of family dysfunction” actually means. Jeni defines this term at the 5:30 mark as growing up in a “dysfunctional family that caused hurt in your life…which I think we pretty much all have.” That definition doesn’t do much to clear things up).
  • In the caption “PastorS of Celebrate Recovery” there are two biblical issues: First, Celebrate Recovery is not a church, it’s a parachurch ministry (if it’s functioning as a church, that brings us to three biblical issues with this caption). Biblically, only churches have pastors. If what is meant by “pastors” is that they are “directors” of CR divisions (as the CR website’s Our Team page says) then that is what the caption should say rather than adulterating a biblical term which has a specific meaning.

    Second, Scripture expressly forbids women from serving as pastors.

    And all of that is in the first nine seconds of this 21 minute video.

Another issue made plain in the video is that Celebrate Recovery teaches a false gospel:

At 3:24ff, speaking to lost people, Johnny gives an incomplete (and partially false) presentation of the gospel as a means of differentiating secular recovery programs from CR. Notice the number of times he says “We believe…” instead of “the Bible says…” or simply stating the terms of the gospel as irrefutable fact. This leaves room for lost people to infer, “These are their beliefs, but they don’t have to be mine.”

The facts Johnny states about Jesus’ life and that He sent the Holy Spirit are technically correct, but what’s missing? Repentance and faith. No mention is made of personal repentance of sin or placing one’s faith in Christ – as the Bible defines it – anywhere in this video. In this particular segment, Johnny skips directly from “Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sin, rose again, and lives now,” to “He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of us.” That is a false gospel. The indwelling Holy Spirit is a sign, seal, and guarantee of our salvation, and salvation does not take place without the repentance of sin and placing one’s faith in Christ.

Johnny goes on to say that “that [the indwelling Holy Spirit] is what gives us the power to find healing from our hurts, hang-ups, and habits”. But the lost people he’s talking to do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help them because they’re still lost, because CR’s “gospel” doesn’t call them to repent and believe.

Further evidence of CR’s false gospel can be found near the end of the video. At 20:11ff, Johnny quotes Romans 3:23, and then proceeds to define sin as “mistakes”. That’s unbiblical. A “mistake” is accidentally calling your son by your daughter’s name, or taking the wrong exit off the interstate, or forgetting to carry the one. Mistakes are, by definition, unintentional and usually morally neutral. Sin is always immoral and frequently intentional. We are born with a sinful nature, but we also choose to sin.

Johnny further describes sin as “hurting other people” and “other people hurting us,” and that’s partially true, but that’s where he stops. Again, this is unbiblical. Sin is primarily rebellion against God. God taught us this way back in Psalm 51 where David, repenting of his sin with Bathsheba said, “Against You [God], You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.” God is the first, last, and ultimate object of our sin.

You’ll probably also notice that even though Johnny uses the word “sin” a few times, he never speaks in biblical terms about everyone’s need to repent of their sin. Rather the terminology he uses is “hurts, hang-ups, and habits” (instead of “sin”) and “healing from your hurts” (instead of “repentance”). This likely stems from the idea in secular recovery groups like AA that alcoholism is a “disease” you need to “heal” and “recover” from like the flu or the chicken pox.

This medical model of sin is completely unbiblical because it removes personal culpability and responsibility for sin, i.e. you can’t help “catching” alcoholism (the sin of drunkenness) any more than you can help catching the flu. Nowhere does Scripture suggest that we need to “heal” and “recover” from sin. Jesus commands us to repent.

Sin is breaking God’s law and rebelling against the holy God of the universe. That’s not the same thing as a “mistake” or “hurting/being hurt by others” or “hurts, hang-ups, and habits”. And we don’t need to “heal” from our sin, we need to repent of it, forsake it, and mortify it.

Finally, Johnny (probably not even realizing he’s doing so) substitutes CR for the biblical gospel. Follow what he’s saying:

All have sinned >> sin = mistakes/hurting others/others hurting us >> we’ve all made mistakes/hurt others/others have hurt us >> “that means all of us qualify for Celebrate Recovery”

Whereas the Bible says:

All have sinned >> sin = rebellion against God >>
we all qualify for the gospel

Celebrate Recovery is not the gospel, nor a substitute for the gospel, for drunkards or drug addicts or anyone else. The gospel is the gospel. And the gospel is what we all need.

Another dangerous and unbiblical component of this concept of “sin is hurting others” is that the CR “gospel” conflates sinning against others with being sinned against under the banner of “hurts”. There is an enormous difference between a man getting drunk and beating his wife half to death and a wife who has been beaten half to death by her drunkard husband.

The Bible puts those two people in two different categories and addresses them discretely and justly. The man has sinned. The wife has been sinned against. The man needs to be brought to justice and repent. The wife needs to be cared for, helped to heal, and ultimately, to forgive.

CR throws both the husband and the wife into the same category because it doesn’t have a biblical definition of sin. The husband needs to “heal” and “recover” from his “addiction” and whatever “hurts” led him to “hurt someone else”. The wife needs to “heal” from being hurt by someone else. Treating the one who sinned and the one sinned against as though they’re the same by placing them in the same “recovery” program is damaging to both because it teaches the sinner he’s not responsible for his actions and has no need to repent, and it teaches the one sinned against that she’s no different from the one who sinned against her.

Now let’s take a look at some of the unbiblical 8 Principles and 12 Steps of the Celebrate Recovery program:

It’s a little confusing as to why CR has both 12 Steps and 8 Principles of recovery, but if I’m understanding it correctly, CR’s 12 Steps are designed to be sort of a bridge to assimilate people already familiar with the 12 steps of secular recovery groups (such as AA) into CR. CR’s 12 Steps are almost identical to the secular 12 steps. (The most noticeable difference is that the phrase “God, as we understand Him” has been changed to simply, “God”.)

The 8 Principles are CR’s own so-called “Christ centered” version of the secular 12 steps, supposedly based on the Beatitudes, and following the acrostic “R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y”. But the ideas in the 8 Principles are very similar to the ideas in the secular 12 steps. So similar, in fact that each Principle is followed by a notation as to which of the 12 steps it corresponds to. For example, Principle 5 (“V” in the acrostic) corresponds to steps 6 and 7 of the secular 12 steps. And, although it should go without saying, the Beatitudes aren’t about hurts, addictions, or recovery.

So, on the macro-level, CR has taken a worldly philosophy and attempted to “Christianize” it slightly in order to appeal to the lost, which, again is typical of the way Saddleback – the original seeker driven “church” – tends to operate, and which, as I mentioned earlier, is unbiblical.

But what about the micro-level of the individual Principles?

Principle R1, the first half of V, and E2 aren’t bad. It would be better if CR actually cited and explained the Scriptures that teach these concepts and used biblical terminology, but overall these small snippets of the 8 principles are mostly aligned with Scripture. 2.5 principles. Out of 8.

Principle E1 is problematic:

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

Believing that God exists, that you matter to Him, and that He’s powerful is not the same thing as being born again by repentance and faith in Christ. Not by a long shot. The Egyptians at the Red Sea believed in God’s existence and power. The prophets of Baal all believed in God’s existence and power (right before Elijah slaughtered them all). And they definitely mattered to God, just not in a good way.

The issue here is that the unbeliever is not indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist and flee from sin. It’s not that God isn’t powerful, it’s that as an unbeliever you don’t have access to, or a right to that power.

Principle C is another big nope:

Consciously choose to commit all my life and will
to Christ’s care and control.

Biblically, there’s no such animal. As an unbeliever, you cannot just make a fleshly decision of the will to commit all of your life and will to Christ’s care and control. It cannot be done without repentance, faith, and regeneration in response to the biblical gospel.

Principle O:

Openly examine and confess my faults to myself,
to God, and to someone I trust.

Sins. “Sins” is the word you’re looking for, not faults. Faults are not equivalent to sins. “Confess your sins to one another,” is what the Bible says. And while confession is a good thing, it’s not the same thing as repentance. A murderer can confess his crime, but feel completely justified in having done it, and be perfectly willing to do it again if given the chance. Repentance is grieving from the heart that you have sinned against a holy God, wishing you had never done it, and striving never to do it again. Also, look who comes first here in this line of confession – not God, but self.

The second half of principle V

Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.

As I said above, the first half isn’t bad. The second half isn’t going to work for lost people because it doesn’t biblically identify their problem, which is sin, not “character defects”. And God is not going to remove their sin without repentance and faith in Christ. And if they’re trying to circumvent repentance, faith, and the biblical gospel in order to steal what they want from God, they’re not asking “humbly,” they’re asking pridefully.

Principle R2 is great if you’re saved, since all Christians are supposed to be doing these things anyway…

Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.

But not so great if you’re in the majority of CR participants who are lost. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (emphasis, mine) tells us. And a lost person cannot “gain the power to follow His will” without the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Principle Y takes us back into false gospel territory:

Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others,
both by my example and my words.

Hold the phone, Henrietta. “This Good News” – capital G, capital N? What “Good News”? The “Good News” of Celebrate Recovery? That is out and out heresy. (And God doesn’t “use” people to bring heresy to others except as a judgment against them.) The only capital G, capital N “Good News” is the Good News of the biblical gospel, which CR has repeatedly failed to present and instead has substituted its own false gospel which is devoid of sin, faith, and repentance.

A final point to consider, and not a minor one, is the fact that Celebrate Recovery is embraced by the world. Contrary to what the powers that be at CR think, that is not a good thing. From the History of Celebrate Recovery page on the CR website:

“Celebrate Recovery is the number one outreach ministry at Saddleback Church, with over 70 percent of its members now coming from outside the church….Celebrate Recovery is not just growing in churches, but in recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons around the world. New Mexico was the first state to adopt Celebrate Recovery into its state prison system and now has Celebrate Recovery pods in all its state prisons. In August 2004, Celebrate Recovery was announced as California’s state-approved substance abuse program for prisons...We are part of a movement that God is blessing.”

God does not “bless” heresy and worldliness. And if we’re walking in obedience to Scripture and preaching and teaching the true biblical gospel the world will hate us, not love us. I’ll just let Scripture speak to those points:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me [Jesus] before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19

Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 1 John 3:13

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 1 John 4:5

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

These findings barely scratch the surface of Celebrate Recovery’s means, methods, and philosophy, but I think Christians who value sound doctrine will agree that this information is more than sufficient to warn people away from this unbiblical “ministry”.

If you aren’t a Christian and you need help with any sort of addiction or other problem, let me give you step 1 of Jesus’ program for addressing that: Repent and believe the gospel. Once you’re saved (or if you’re already saved as you’re reading this), find a doctrinally sound church, make an appointment with your pastor, and ask him to point you to someone who can disciple you in obedience to God’s Word. (If you absolutely can’t find a doctrinally sound church in your area, you could seek out an ACBC certified biblical counselor.)

The question is not, “Does Celebrate Recovery ‘work’?”. That’s pragmatism. The question is, “Is Celebrate Recovery biblical?”. And the answer to that question is a resounding no. Celebrate Recovery’s very foundations are unbiblical, and Jesus stressed just how crucial biblical foundations are:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 7:24-27

Additional Resources

An Analysis of Celebrate Recovery Addictions Program Part 1 and Part 2 at The Cripplegate

I am not thoroughly familiar with the websites below. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

A Way Which Seemeth Right at The Berean Call (This link is not a blanket endorsement of this blog or author, only this particular article.)

Is Celebrate Recovery Biblical? by Chad Prigmore

Christian women, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Women In Combat

Originally published March 18, 2016

Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of talk about the possibility of future U.S. military drafts including young women in addition to young men. I’ve admired godly male friends who have spoken out vehemently against this and expressed concern about the government trying to press their daughters or wives into service. Some even vowed to lay their lives down protecting their women from having to face the horrors and dangers of war.

But I wonder if these men – husbands, fathers, pastors, elders – know that many of their wives, daughters, and sisters in Christ are already in the trenches fighting off the enemy with every ounce of our strength and every weapon at our disposal.

It’s not a war for territory or political control or freedom from dictatorial tyranny.

It’s a battle for the purity of the Bride. And the souls of our sisters.

Daily. Weekly. At church. On line. In our families. We strap on our Swords, march out to the front and engage in hand to hand combat with the Enemy.

His troops: false teachers.

His weapon of mass destruction: false doctrine.

Sometimes we stand as a shield between grenade-lobbing grunts and weak sisters who don’t know how to fight, or even that they’re in a war. Who want nothing more than to knock us down into the mud as they desert our King and join our foes.

Sometimes we infiltrate the enemy camp to bring back intelligence on his troops to our commanders and generals, only to be ignored, reprimanded, or dishonorably discharged from the unit.

Sometimes we stand as guards at the walls of our churches, watching the adversary advance, sounding the alarm, and standing in stunned disbelief as our commanding officers smilingly welcome the enemy troops through the gate.

Why? Why, in a field of pink, are there so few Green Berets? Why is it that so many women are out on the front lines battling this insidious rival while most of our brothers in arms seem to be AWOL?

men1

As Steve Lawson famously said a few years ago, “Give us some men who know the truth!”

And to that I respond with a hearty amen. But with much love and respect to Brother Steve, I would add:

Give us some men who will DEFEND the truth.

And the weak women the enemy seeks to capture.

And the strong women who should be protected, working safely away from the line of fire to support the troops and nurse the casualties back to health.

Give us men who will…

…thoroughly vet any curricula, books, or materials used by their church’s Bible study classes.

…train all of their church’s teachers to properly handle and exegete the word of God.

…take a close look at the authors of the books and blogs their wives or church members are reading and the speakers at the conferences and retreats they’re attending.

…examine the doctrine of the singers their daughters or youth listen to and the leaders of the youth camps they attend.

…speak out with godly boldness (not jerkiness- godly boldness) against false doctrine and false teachers on social media, in Sunday School, in the sanctuary, in their homes, and in every arena in which they have influence.

…join the few brave brothers who are already standing in the gap to present a united front to ward off the enemy.

Godly men on active duty in their churches, homes, and in the public square are out there. I’m privileged to know several. But they need a bigger band of brothers to join them in fighting the good fight.

We need men who will gird up, gear up, and stand up. Because some women in combat are wounded, battle fatigued, and in need of some R&R. And we can’t keep fighting this battle without a few more good men.

1 cor 16 13
Testimony Tuesday, Uncategorized

Testimony Tuesday: An Anonymous Sister’s Story

Anonymous’ Story

I certainly never expected that I would fall into the trap of false teaching. I was raised in a Christian home with loving parents who took me to church, taught me Christian values, and even sacrificed to send me to a Christian school where I learned the Bible and practiced spiritual disciplines daily. I made the decision to follow Christ for myself at age 15 and never really went through the rebellious teenager stage. I have memorized Scripture and would estimate that I know probably 75% of the events that take place in the Bible. I married a Christ-following man after college and have continued to seek after the Lord and attend Bible-believing churches in the years since we have been married. I would have told you that there was no way I could have fallen into deception as far as what the Bible taught! And I would have been very wrong. Let me briefly tell you our story of becoming parents.

I would have told you that there was no way I could have fallen into deception…

My husband and I felt God’s leading to start the process to become foster parents as fresh, young 26-year-olds who had never been in the role of “Mom and Dad” before. We had the willingness to parent kids from hard places, but very little experience.

As we embarked on the journey of being parents to our first little one, we realized that not only did we have an instant toddler, walking, talking, running…(away from us in parking lots), we did not have the bonds that most parents and toddlers have who were biologically stitched together. We were getting a trial-by-fire introduction to parenting, and as most parents do, we needed some wisdom from those who had gone before us.

Through our church and social media pages, we kept hearing about taking classes which help parents raise kids who have come from traumatic situations. We signed up and took a class over the course of six weeks. The classes we attended and books we read were full of good ideas. They equipped us with different strategies to engage children of all ages to exercise self-control and practice calmness and thoughtfulness. The idea was that, over time, greater depths of discipline could be achieved as the child learned to operate inside a foundation built on trust and love for their parents- something that newborn babies all the way up to teenagers may not have experienced in their birth families.

The classes helped us understand brain physiology and develop empathy and compassion for what trauma and abuse can do to a person and how to be more patient in training our children who are in foster care. The classes in and of themselves were helpful and gave us some tools to address the behaviors and needs of our children that we hadn’t considered before.

Since we found the class to be helpful, I began to surround myself with other trauma-focused women through church, friendships, social media, podcasts, etc. I loved my life as a foster mom and was eager to glean wisdom from these older, wiser ladies that had a lot to say about raising children from traumatic situations. This is where the problems began.

These older, “wiser” women, all of whom attended Bible-believing churches, many of whom were even pastors’ wives, never said anything to me about the Bible, other than to tell me that this way of parenting aligned to the Gospel. They never pointed me to the Scriptures or encouraged me to hold my children accountable for their sin. They never reminded me that only God could heal my children from their past abuse. They only pointed me to the “religion” of trauma-based parenting and its ideologies.

They never pointed me to the Scriptures…

Admittedly, I even pushed my husband into these ideologies as we tried to bring a unified approach to parenting in this way, as was the case for most of the couples that I had contact with over the years who were also in these circles. These ideologies were not explicitly taught but were intrinsic to the conversations, the memes, and the discussions on podcasts, social media pages, and during Mom’s Coffee Night. Here are four of the most common ideas that I observed creeping into the minds and hearts of the women involved:

  1. You aren’t modeling God’s love and grace if you are unyielding in your expectations for your child’s behavior.
  2. Kids misbehave because of the trauma they have experienced, and if they could make a better choice, they would. Therefore they don’t because they physiologically can’t.
  3. If you don’t subscribe to and practice nearly everything produced by these parenting programs, you are not helping your child heal from their trauma (and might be making it worse).
  4. You should identify your own “triggers” from childhood that might be causing you to take offense to your child’s wrong behaviors (you may never have known you had any triggers- getting counseling will “reveal” these to you.)

As you can see, these ideas are not without spiritual implications. What started out as the desire to teach and train my children in a way that is conducive to reshaping their past experiences, quickly morphed into an expected lifestyle. Those pushing these ideologies employ a worldview which blames the parents’ hidden character flaws for a child’s misbehavior, places the weight of mental and emotional healing on the parents’ discipline efforts, and absolves kids almost completely of their sin simply because of their circumstances in life.

Though my husband and I didn’t immerse ourselves fully in the practices that these “leaders” were pushing, as we continued to foster and eventually adopt, we regularly felt defeated in our attempts to parent the way we heard others in these circles were parenting. I tried to keep a mental checklist of what to do and what not to do based on the social media posts and heartfelt stories that I saw from those I thought were doing it “the right way.” I berated my husband when he didn’t handle something “right”, and beat myself up and felt like a terrible mother when I reverted back to the “less loving and gracious” way of parenting (which I did regularly).

Our kids didn’t seem to really care about any of the non-punitive consequences that we attempted to enforce, and actually responded better to the way we were told not to parent, though we felt guilty for reverting back into some of these tendencies. We weren’t seeing the results we wanted to and ultimately we felt powerless as parents.

Over the next couple of years, we started seeing that what we had considered to be resources, encouragement, and even discipleship were actually just lies. We unsubscribed from the social media, the podcasts, the church classes, etc. and ultimately unsubscribed our family from the ideologies making us weak, ineffective parents producing weak, excuse-filled children.

We have now been foster and adoptive parents for several years and have had over a dozen children in and out of our home, adopting several of them. Our children are very happy, healthy, and successful at home and school and love the Lord. My husband and I argue less about
the right way to handle something, we are more confident as parents, and we are able to delight in our kids instead of wondering if we’re worsening their trauma.

I am forever thankful to the faithfulness of God to eventually help us see that we had strayed from what He says is the right way to view misbehavior and the discipline of our children. Now, it is my mission to make sure that other moms, whether they are foster and adoptive moms or not, see parenting programs for what they can be: God-given resources to equip us to be godly parents, and what they are never to be: the indoctrination of a different worldview, seeing children as inherently sinless or as a product of their circumstances who want to do the right thing but can’t.

I am forever thankful to the faithfulness of God…

Let me be clear, the reason that I fell into this pattern of wrong thinking was not because I didn’t know that the Bible said anything raising children. It is because I subconsciously did not consider Scripture to be the only valuable resource out there and I mistakenly placed my trust in the advice of women who marketed themselves as Gospel-centered trauma experts. Turns out their approach was very light on the Gospel.

When I started to really believe that Scripture was solely sufficient for all issues in life, I understood that what I had been following were very covert lies. And I began to see everything outside of Scripture as either deception or a resource that is only useful if you are using it within the bounds of what God says in Scripture.

Ladies, if you haven’t recently read 2 Timothy 3, stop right now and go read it. In it, Paul has a lot to say about how people will think and behave in the last days. It warns women to not fall prey to people who “have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power.” It tells us to stay away from those who “creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Paul says that people who do this “will not get very far, for their foolishness will be plain to all.”

Second Timothy 3 also calls Christ-followers to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” It reminds us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

When we are vulnerable to believe anything that we see from leaders that claim to be Christians, without examining what they’re saying against the whole Word of God, we are these weak women. We want what is best for our children, but we are sinful because we are not trusting God with their healing or to guide us to appropriate discipline through the study of His Word and the knowledge He allows us to have through others who have gone before us.

Instead of taking useful strategies, thanking God, and applying them to what He has already told us to do, we are led astray by the leaders who have created entire movements based on a few good principles, turning instead to their social media pages, to their classes and teachings. We feel that we can never know enough about how to help our children because we do not believe that God’s system of discipline and instruction is sufficient. And as a result, our children are also carried away by excuses, in searching for what will make them whole. We have spent our lives looking for the solution to their trauma and as a result we have trained ourselves and our kids that God is not it.

In fact, God is the one who teaches us through His infallible Word that He is the solution for every circumstance that belies us. His Word is helpful for teaching and correcting our kids, for training our entire family in the way of righteousness, and to equip us for every good work, including raising our kids.

Our children can be complete by knowing God, knowing His Word and coming to salvation through Him. Any resources God brings to us from other humans, is simply that. A resource. Not a way of life. Not a worldview. Not a religion.

We have all we need in Christ.


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? Contact me, or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Christian women, Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

Throwback Thursday ~ Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

Originally published June 22, 2018

It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she has been advancing for the past several years. (Which leadership positions or roles? We’re still waiting for Jen to specify.)

And the icing on the cake was SBC pastor, Dwight McKissic, publicly declaring that the way to “heal” all of these woes against Christian women and “right historic patterns of wrong against women” is to elect Beth Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So this nebulous idea has been introduced that Christian women are getting the short end of the stick across the board in evangelicalism (specifically in the SBC) and that the way to fix things – all the way from genuine abuse and rape on one end of the spectrum to women whose feelings have been hurt because they’re not seen as equal to pastors on the other end – is to make sure, somehow, that women’s voices are heard and validated.

That’s a pretty “big tent” idea. And if it’s going to be a big tent, there’s room under there for everybody, right? To be consistent, compassionate, and fair, wouldn’t these folks have to make space for the voices of, and give influential positions to, any Christian woman who feels she’s been diminished? Let’s find out.

Allow me to introduce you to a group of Christian women who have been silenced and brushed aside for years, often by the very same people who are now hypocritically crying out that women need to be heard in order to keep them from being marginalized.

I give you discerning, doctrinally sound, often Reformed, Christian women.

We are women who have been subjected to insults, and accusations of heresy and hatred of the lost, because we hold to the doctrines of grace. We are women who have been attacked by pastors, pastors’ wives, women’s ministry leaders, and fellow church members for pointing out the false doctrine of popular women’s “Bible” study materials and merely asking to properly be taught the Word of God in our own churches. We are women who have been shouted down or ruled “out of order” at denominational meetings for asking that our Christian retailers stop selling materials containing false teaching. We are women who have been forced out of our own churches for taking a biblical stand against women preaching to, teaching, or exercising authority over men in the church. We are women who have been called haters, legalistic, divisive, threats to unity, jealous, and all other manner of slander simply for holding to Scripture and refusing to budge from it.

All this mistreatment of women at the hands of Christian celebrities, denominational leaders, pastors and other church leadership, and fellow church members.

Do we qualify as marginalized? We’ve been hurt, and in many cases, sinned against outright. No church discipline. No redress or recourse. Nobody wants to make sure we have a voice or a place of power – quite the opposite, in fact. A lot of us saw our own pastors hand-wringingly share Beth Moore’s detailing of her grievances against Christian men even as they pushed us and our biblical concerns aside.

Everybody feels sorry for Beth Moore. Who will cry for us?

We don’t want much, just a return to what’s biblical.

We want sound doctrine in the church and solid preaching in the pulpit.

We want this nonsense about a female SBC President – especially a false teacher like Beth Moore – to stop. Not only is it not biblical, it’s a patronizing toss of a trinket or pat on the head attempting to dry the tears of fussy little girls, and it won’t work to solve any of the real problems that are going on.

We want false doctrine off the shelves of LifeWay, and for LifeWay, the ERLC, and others in leadership to stop organizing and promoting conferences and other events headlined by people they have already been informed (yea, as seminary trained pastors and leaders, should know without having to be told) are false teachers. Among the many things Jen Wilkin has rightly said is that we need to promote biblical and theological literacy among Christian women. When you go on a diet, the first thing you do is go through your kitchen and throw out all the junk food. You’ll never start eating healthy if you have an endless supply of candy bars in the pantry. The only way to begin to properly train women in Scripture and theology  is by “putting off” false doctrine in order to “put on” sound doctrine.

We want LifeWay to demonstrate that it actually cares about the spiritual health of women by putting its money where its mouth is. Ridding the shelves of false doctrine and the event docket of false teachers is going to cost LifeWay a lot of revenue. Women who want their itching ears scratched will quickly find another source of false teaching to pour their cash into. There’s not a lot of money to be made in encouraging women to study straight from their Bibles, sit faithfully under the teaching of a doctrinally sound pastor, and humbly serve the local church. Are Christian women worth it to you, LifeWay?

We want a strong doctrine of sin and church discipline to be understood and taught by our pastors and denominational leaders. The fact of the matter is that a woman who has been genuinely sinned against by a man who has abused her is in a different category from a woman whose feelings are hurt because she’s been told she can’t teach a co-ed adult Sunday School class. The first woman needs compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside her and walk with her as God begins to heal her body and her heart. The abuser needs to be prosecuted to the full and appropriate extent of the law as well as to be placed under church discipline. The second woman is either in sin and rebellion (in which case she may need to be placed under church discipline) or she just hasn’t been taught God’s Word properly and someone needs to disciple her in that area. To put these two women underneath the same “big tent” just because they’ve both experienced some sort of hurt diminishes and confuses their situations and the solutions that would be biblically appropriate for each.

We want pastors and leaders to herald, praise, and validate the biblical role of women in the church. Women should not be taught only the things we cannot do in the church, we must also be taught what we must do in the church – what only women are uniquely and ontologically gifted by God to do. Women need to hear – particularly from the mouths of pastors and denominational leaders – the vital necessity of women discipling other women, women training the church’s children in the Scriptures, women serving in hospitality and mercy ministries, women properly using their administrative gifts, and so much more. Train us to teach. Equip us to serve. Encourage us to use our gifts in obedience to Scripture and for the glory of God.

We want men – from the heads of our denominations to the newly saved sinner in the pew – to step up and be godly men. We desperately need you to biblically and fearlessly lead the church. Don’t be afraid to stand up and put your foot down squarely on Scripture. Even if it makes you unpopular. Even if it rocks the boat at church. Even if people leave and never come back. As godly women, we can’t do our job if you’re not doing yours.

So how about it, brothers and sisters who are crying out for Christian women to be heard? Do doctrinally sound women get a seat at the table? Do we get to be heard? Will anything be done to correct the mistreatment we’ve received?

Or are there only certain women you want to hear from? Women who fit the popular social narrative. Women the world and most of the church will applaud you for listening to. Solutions that do more to glorify people than to glorify God.

Just how big is that tent…really?

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Rachel’s Story

Rachel’s Story

Up until a few months ago, I was a female preacher. I genuinely thought God had called me to this role. I honestly believed it was the office I was destined for and that one day I would be catapulted onto the world stage. It was just a matter of time. However, all that changed when the UK went into lockdown. But allow me to give you some background.

Up until a few months ago, I was a female preacher…

In the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity to help lead a week-long children’s teaching series at a national UK Christian event called New Wine. Our team was working with the Year 6 (Grade 5) age group and I was helping to co-host. I also did several of the talks and I loved it. I came home from that week buzzing. This is it! I could do this forever! Please God, let me! On the back of this, I had opportunities to preach at my church and then in 2015, I was invited to join the Eldership.

In 2017, the church leadership decided that our Summer Series would be a book called Surprise the World! by Michael Frost. This book was about developing a missional lifestyle and was done through the acronym BELLS: Bless Others, Eat Together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ and Sent by God. The ‘Listen to the Spirit’ section was essentially based around the idea of contemplative prayer which involves clearing the mind and waiting on God. I now know this to be a New Age practise because biblical meditation is about filling your mind with the word of God. However, I was ignorant so I went for it.

I sat alone in my friend’s apartment and I met God. Or at least I thought I did. It was an incredible experience. I walked through the doors of God’s throne room and it was so bright. I had my eyes closed but I was still squinting. I ended up sitting on God’s lap, talking to him. When I asked him if he had anything to say to me, he said the following:

“I have made you to be a teacher of My Word. A time is coming when people will want to know what the Bible says and you will be instrumental in that. Your husband will help you in that endeavour. Go home to England and you’ll meet him. You don’t have to worry.”

I was completely blown away by it and for the next three years, I earnestly chased it, sincerely believing that I was obeying a word from God. But what I didn’t do was check it against God’s word as we are commanded to do in Scripture. As far as I was concerned it was God. Why was there any need to check that it was actually him? Plus, I had quite a bit of success. I was given invitations to speak at other local churches and I loved it. In fact, my favourite bit was the praise I got afterwards. That in itself should have raised a red flag but at the time, I was blind.

And then came 2020 and Covid-19.

As with many places around the world, my school mostly shut down, staff were put on a rota and I was working from home for almost 6 months. Alongside working, I began a journey with surprising results. As a vocalist in the worship team at my church, I had regularly listened to a range of artists including Bethel, Elevation and Hillsong. I had heard rumours that these churches had issues but I’d always ignored those because I liked the anthemic songs that stirred my heart.

…what I discovered horrified me.

I finally decided to investigate and it opened up a whole unknown world to me. While I was familiar with the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith movements, I had never come across the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), and what I discovered horrified me. I could not get over the amount of heresy, blasphemy and Scripture twisting that went on in these churches like Bethel and thanks to the ministries of sound teachers such as Chris Rosebrough, Justin Peters and Costi Hinn, and the excellent work of Melissa Dougherty and Doreen Virtue, my eyes were well and truly opened.

I have always had a deep love of the Bible and it made me sick to hear men and women, who claimed to speaking for God, taking God’s word out of context, misapplying it or completely twisting its meaning. My research became an obsession and it resulted in a dismantling of my faith. At one point I felt like I stood in the middle of a building site surrounded by wreckage and all I had left were the following basic building blocks:

God is sovereign.

Jesus saved me and his blood is enough.

God’s Word is inerrant, infallible and sufficient.

The last one made me pause. If I really believed that, was I being obedient? No. I was a female preacher and God’s word clearly said no.

For years, I had I had always had a niggling doubt in the back of my mind but had ignored it. A friend had tried to show me the Scriptures that forbade my preaching but I just dismissed him (I have now apologised). Finally, I did it. I summoned my courage and sat and watched John MacArthur’s sermon entitled Does the Bible Permit a Woman to Preach? and as I did, each one of my ‘reasons’ were dismantled, through his accurate exegesis of Scripture. Honesty was required. I was sinning.

I had sinned and I needed to repent.

I sat on the floor of my room and sobbed. I was broken and left with no excuses. I had sinned and I needed to repent. I did so and immediately promised God that I would never again speak in front of men in a church service. It wasn’t that I am less capable or less valuable. It simply isn’t my role and I have to honour that. God has set up a beautiful, divine order, and marriage, we are told in Ephesians, is a reflection of Christ and his Church. When women choose to submit to this, we honour Jesus, we honour the men in our lives and we pass the responsibility of godly leadership over to them – which is where it should have been in the first place. I emailed churches I had spoken at and said I wouldn’t be returning unless they were holding women’s or youth events. By God’s grace, there weren’t many to contact! Most responded graciously but where I got negative responses, it was often the male elders who were trying to dissuade me. But over the next few days, God used Scripture and excellent preaching to confirm it was the right thing to do.

But I have truly experienced God’s undeserved favour because since I repented, He has returned to me several things I lost as a result of my sin and I want to share two of them.

I have truly experienced God’s undeserved favour…

When I look back at my journal from 2008, I wrote about how much I wanted a family of my own, a husband and children. During the 12 years I preached, my desire for children hadn’t just dwindled but had been replaced by a deep fear and depression at the thought. In fact, it had grown so much that even looking at a pregnant friend filled me with feelings of disgust and horror. I cannot explain just how strong this was. The moment I repented of preaching, that feeling disappeared. Completely. Since this decision, God has brought a truly wonderful man into my life (and I haven’t suddenly become really broody!), and so when we get married one day, the conversation about having children will now look very different.  

The other thing that has happened is that I am totally at peace and no longer dissatisfied with my life. When I was a preacher, I honestly believed that my job as school teacher was a temporary role until I was released to start a preaching ministry. But chasing that ‘dream’ led to dissatisfaction with God and impatience with Him and His timing. Those have also gone with my repentance. I am now satisfied to spend the rest of my life in obscurity, simply sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and loving the children God sends my way.

This journey has been painful but life-changing. The gospel is simple. Prayer is not complex and is not about demanding anything from God. I have a new fear of the Lord, the kind the Bible describes and it is my trust in the blood of Christ that enables me to approach him in humility and gratitude.

My experience has shown me this: Read His word and obey it as it is. If it rubs you raw, be brave enough to find out why. Be honest and repent. Walk away from your sin and refuse to entertain it any more. No one wants to find out that they are sinful but God is gracious and you will gain far more than you lose.


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? Contact me, or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!