Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Michelle’s Story

Michelle’s* Story

Literally the other day, I was set completely free. I’m still dancing!! And, I am not the dancing type!

About a year ago, my husband and I began attending a new church. I could not put my finger on what happened during that initial service, but I remember saying to my husband, “Whatever that was, I want more of that.”

At that time, I was a Christian, but a struggling one. I had not yet come to understand what being free in Christ meant. I was struggling physically with un-diagnosable chronic physical pain. I was on a downward spiral of acute insomnia coupled with not only the physical pain, but also fear and anxiety. I read my Bible. I went to Bible studies. My friends were almost all self-professing Christians. I grew up in a churched family. No one shared with me the truth I was about to hear and understand.

No one shared the truth with me…

About 18 months ago, after exhausting all of my options for treatment, I felt even more anxious that I (keyword, I) couldn’t do anything further to fix this. It was then that God brought an amazing woman into my life to teach me what a true and vibrant personal relationship with the Living Christ was … I bombarded her with questions. What she was teaching me and what I was learning at church on Sunday lined up with each other seamlessly. I have never met this woman face-to-face, she was introduced and referred to me through long-distance friends. Come to find out, she knew the pastor of my new church years back through a family member. Through her, God confirmed the difference was this church was under the leadership of a true Christ-follower. Praise God for people who know their identity in Christ and continue referring you back to Him.

God brought an amazing woman into my life…

As I continue to study, I’m really beginning to wonder if I ever was a Christian. I mentioned that I was a Christian, but a struggling one. And I did read my Bible, and go to countless Bible Studies.

Whether or not I was I guess is not important, because now I am – I get it, oh thank you, Jesus, that I get it. I didn’t get it before. I was under the assumption that since God’s will is for everyone to be saved, then anyone who wanted to be saved and prayed the prayer was saved forever and that could not change. In fact, my uncle recently passed away and we were not close but I talked to someone about this and I was assured of “once saved always saved.”

Oh, thank You, Jesus, that I get it.

A fire has now been lit under me that screams most people I know are likely false converts and they have no idea. I’d never heard of the idea that God saves you in His timing. I thought that as soon as you prayed that prayer, boom, that was it. Your address for eternity had permanently changed. I was never convicted of sin to the point of complete repentance and I don’t recall ever being corrected on this – in fact, I only remember being assured over and over again that I was saved. I was sorry for my sin, I didn’t like my sin, I knew Jesus died for my sin. All good, but I wasn’t changed. But now, the Truth has set me free.


*This is from a reader who shares my first name. This is not my (Michelle Lesley’s) testimony.

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. 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

You’re Not Awesome…and You Know It

Originally published September 19, 2017

I am absolutely weary of some of the memes aimed at Christian women these days. You know the ones I mean, ladies- the ones with lovely pictures of flowers or an ocean or a meadow with a superimposed flowing script practically BEGGING us to believe how much worth we have to God, how awesome we are, how we need to discover the greatness within, how God gives us limitless potential and a superfantastic divine purpose, blah, blah, blah.

You know why they have to take that begging tone to try to get us to believe those things? Because they’re not true. You know it, and I know it.

You’re not awesome or great or imbued with some radical purpose or potential that will magically make your life phenomenal and give you oodles of self esteem once you discover it.

You’re a dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious sinner. You yell at your kids. You don’t submit to your husband. You act out of selfishness. You lie. You gossip. You covet. You bow down to your idols instead of to Christ. You sin against a holy and righteous God in a thousand ways every day in thought, word, and deed. Just like I do. Let’s put on our big girl panties and just admit it. (1 John 1:8,10)

That’s why these memes and false teachers have to try so hard to convince us of how terrific we are- deep down we know we’re not. It’s a lie. And putting all our eggs in the basket of that lie of greatness sets us up for disappointment and self-loathing every time we sin.

Ladies, stop listening to this hearts and flowers, cotton candy, pump up your ego so you’ll feel better about yourself dreck, and put your faith and hope in the One who will never let you down. The One who looked at all your nasty thoughts and evil deeds and said, “I’m going to the cross for her anyway.” The One who sees all your daily faults and failures and is still willing to forgive when you repent. The One who’s faithful to you even when you’re not faithful to Him.

Stop focusing on how great you are – because you’re not – and put your focus on Christ and how great, and awesome, and superfantastic, and terrific He is. Because if you’re feeling bad about yourself, it’s not because you don’t have a high enough self esteem. It’s because you don’t have a high enough Christ esteem.

We’re not worthy. He is. Let’s get over ourselves and give Him the glory, and honor, and attention, and focus, and praise He so richly deserves.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Jenny’s Story

Jenny’s Story

This is more of a testimony within a testimony. I suppose part of my journey and part of the sanctification process that will take from salvation to eternity to complete. It is something that has weighed on my heart for years though never seemed the right opportunity to share or discuss it aside over a cup of coffee at my kitchen table.

My name is Jenny. I am a mother of five and have been married fourteen years. We started homeschooling our clan about 7 years ago. Our marriage has been one that has been rocked by adversity and brought to redemption through the glorious grace of Jesus Christ. However, this will not be about why we homeschool, or how God saved my marriage…this is about how I came to see all Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, correcting and training in righteousness.

I was a feminist. Girl Power, women can do everything, and anything, men are idiots and would be dead were it not for women, loud, haughty and always up for a debate. Set on a course like this as a young girl, I looked disdainfully at marriage and children. Why would I want either of those things? I was going to travel the world, be a missionary; a husband and kids would get in the way.

I was a feminist.

I had a worldview written both by man and by God. I loved the Lord; since I was a little girl I had an intense love of Jesus that governed most everything I did, except in areas of my ambition and attitude towards that dirty “S-word” – submission. Submit- HA! I am not a dog! I can do what I want. I can be educated, independent, and preach. And I did. I grew up being taught that women can do anything in the church and I accepted that as truth, with zero hesitation. It affected every part of my biblical femininity. Do not think for a minute that you can walk hand in hand with secular feminism and biblical truth. They collide. That’s what happened to me.

There was a woman who I would see at church softball games. I enjoyed conversing with her dearly. Having come to Christ later in life, she was a testimony of continuing openness of her sanctification through the Word. At this point, I still held a view that, although I had salvation, my behaviors earned blessings or punishments, and that working for the Lord proved my love for Him and could somehow satisfy the debt I owed. She knew what I did for work, she knew I had taught/preached to large groups of men and women in church and college settings; and she never batted an eye when speaking to me. A beautiful example of an older woman teaching a younger woman.

A beautiful example of an older woman teaching a younger woman.

One day she said to me, “I am praying you get fired.” EXCUSE ME!!! We rely on that income! I have a great job. My husband and I both work. We juggle our children between our schedules. I AM MORE THAN A MOM!!!! How dare she! She pointed me to Scripture. I thought, “How archaic. Doesn’t she know it is meant in context of culture and region?”. She gently kept pushing me- that if I am so adamant the Scripture is true, why am I so man-centered in this? I came face to face with the thought, “All scripture is breathed out by God.” But if I accepted this, it would change everything, including my identity. And praise be to God- it has. I have been able to come to see the glorious good workings of God, and the free grace offered through Jesus Christ my Lord. He does not demand anything from me, save my obedience and trust in Him.

My outlook has changed, and it is liberating. Feminism kills Christian women and Christian homes. We miss out on the beauty and strength and glory of God, through our proposed design and structurings, starting with male and female, into marriage, and foremost through the bride of Christ and His church.

This is why we NEED women heeding Titus 2:4-5:

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

No one told me I was maligning the Word of God. I was being cheered on. I was living the Christian American Dream. However, my identity was not in Christ, it was in myself serving Christ the best I thought how.

This verse is not a popular one. It is not often taught in churches and most squirm when it is read out loud. We read Pinterest and blogs and posts that mock housewives, and women that love, rather than bash, their husbands, and who strive hard in the home. We celebrate the chaos running amok and dismiss stay at home moms with the question, “Well, what did you do before that?”.

I am forever thankful to the older woman, who was not concerned if I thought she was judging me, but loved me enough to point me back to the Word. I am grateful to the grace of God, Who allowed me still yet a teachable heart, Who has forgiven me for sins of my past, and Who allows me yet to model strength and dignity to my own daughters, so that they can learn who they are through Jesus Christ, and that His banner over them is love!

I am grateful to the grace of God.

I have learned that the ultimate example of submission comes from Christ, through his demonstration on the cross. That the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. I also, would call sisters reading this to remember to be patient with others as Paul teaches, and as Christ is patient with us. Rather than cast down our looks at women fighting for authority and leadership, pray for them. Pray that they would have a Titus woman in their lives willing to speak truth in love, and continue in prayer. Pray that they would submit to Scripture instead of cherry-picking and trivializing it! I am ever grateful to a beautiful soul who cared more about truth than being liked. I am ever encouraged by great examples of the past, from Ruth to Mary to women of today, who share and strive in biblical truth and love.

This is not a popular message, neither in society, nor in the church. But the warning in Titus is clear: “that the Word of God would not be maligned”. And that has become my prayer, that my life would be a pleasing aroma unto the Lord. That I would not be known for works, or remembered by name, but that fragrance left behind the vapor of my life simply, only and always is 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? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), 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!

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Dorothy’s Story

Dorothy’s Story

I was saved at an early age and always had a heart for the things of God, reading His Word, memorizing it, and prayer. As an adult I was very active in my Baptist church, in children’s ministry or leading Bible studies for women, which I realize now were not actually Bible studies, but rather studying a book about someone’s interpretation of Scripture. I was very intrigued by Henry Blackaby’s book Experiencing God, and began to wonder how I might recognize God at work in my own life, how I might hear his voice. I read books on prayer and fasting by Bill Bright, learning of the “coming revival”.

It wasn’t until I began to read God Chasers by Tommy Tenney, though, that I thought perhaps I was missing something, since I had never felt the “manifest” presence of God. A friend loaned me Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit by Jack Deere, A Final Quest by Rick Joyner, and I was off into the world of the NAR (The New Apostolic Reformation), inhaling every book I could on intercessory prayer, especially enjoying Prayer Shield, written by C. Peter Wagner himself, the father of the NAR. I read about past revivals, about The Toronto Blessing. I had no understanding of the history or doctrines behind the movement, but was drawn in by the incredible experiences with God those in the movement seemed to have. Prophetic words, words of knowledge, Holy Spirit manifestations – they all seemed so much more exciting than what I had experienced in my Christian life. Much to my shame, I even went to see Todd Bentley when he was in town. I became convinced revival was on its way.

I thought perhaps I was missing something..

I was especially fascinated by listening prayer. Although I continued to read my Bible and memorize scripture, my focus became my time of contemplative prayer, listening to what I felt God was saying to me personally. This quote from my prayer journal shows the idol that listening prayer had become in my life. “I could die for you right now God, die for more of you.”

I began to assist a Baptist deliverance minister in town as well, in what was called “discernment,” listening to what God told me about the spirits that were impacting a person. I would also listen for a personal prophetic word for each person in ministry.

As my family was now in a Pentecostal church, it was very accepted to be hearing from God personally; I was just “prophetic”. Although I had previously written devotionals for the Proverbs 31 Homemaker, I now felt called to begin typing up my prayer journal notes into devotionals, much in the style of Sarah Young, who wrote her devotionals because she wanted more of God than the Bible. I had 400 in all, hoping to get them published and support different missions organizations.

The Pentecostal church we were attending became progressively more NAR, even having a church plant patterned after Bethel. It wasn’t uncommon to have a pastor from Bethel speak at our church’s conferences. I had never agreed with the doctrine that it was God’s will to heal everyone, which Bethel emphasized, but I had no idea that they actually were preaching a false gospel.

I had no idea they were preaching a false gospel.

Last fall I happened upon a YouTube video on Bethel’s theology by Mike Winger, which God used to begin to remove the scales of deception from my eyes. However, it was reading Angels of Light; False Prophets and Deceiving Spirits at Work Today in the Church & World by Eddie Hyatt, specifically his chapter on contemplative prayer, which made me realize I had been wading in dangerous waters. As I watched the Strange Fire Conference on the internet, I was terribly convicted by the true Holy Spirit. This propelled me into an incredibly intense, painful season of soul-searching – questioning what I believed against biblical doctrine – and a time of repentance. As I listened to YouTube videos of Doreen Virtue and Melissa Dougherty, two wonderful women God has brought out of the New Age, I realized that my “Listening Prayer” had more in common with hearing from Spirit Guides, that my getting “prophetic words” for people had more in common with cold readings, than with either prayer or the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I was convicted by the true Holy Spirit…

Psalm 116 has become very precious to me, especially verse 6: “The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.” Although it truly sickens me that I could have been so deceived, I am very aware of how God’s hand was protecting me and my whole family through the whole process, and know that God is able to use my experience to bring about good.

Classes on listening prayer are becoming rampant in the church today, even in mainstream churches. The following is taken from a non-charismatic church offering such a class. “Learning to hear God’s voice and learning to use the gift of prophecy will be taught in alignment with biblical principles…” “loving and safe community to learn how to hear God’s voice for oneself and for others….designed to provide opportunities to encounter Father God, Jesus and Holy Spirit through a variety of worship experiences and listening exercises.”

If you are practicing listening prayer, or contemplative prayer, I beg you to look into its history, and examine scripture – see that Christ never told us to pray in such a way, either by example or as a teaching. You may think that you are practicing listening prayer, but still holding God’s Word as His revelation to you higher. From experience, I believe it is impossible to practice listening prayer and not have it erode your view of the sufficiency of Scripture as well as erode and distort your view of Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. In the past I believed that what I was hearing from God was completely in line with Scripture. However, not only was it incredibly narcissistic, it began to reflect more and more the NAR teaching I was receiving.

In my spiritual journey, I believed that I was experiencing “revival” when I became involved in contemplative prayer, and extra biblical practices. But in God’s word, biblical revival was accompanied by a renewed love for God through the Scripture. I can honestly say that coming out of the NAR, with all of its deception, as painful as it has been, has brought with it true revival. I have never had such a profound sense of being “saved”, along with a growing hunger for Scripture and true knowledge of God. I realize that I was in NAR lite for several years, even in my Baptist church.

I have never had such a profound sense of being “saved”…

If you diligently seek scripture, you will not lose anything that is true; you will only lose the false. Please, don’t allow fear or pride to keep you from researching thoroughly. I only wish there had been someone to warn me earlier. Although in many NAR books you will be warned away from biblical discernment by being taught that thinking critically is a “critical spirit” or that if you compare a teaching to Scripture you are “religious or have a religious spirit” please follow scripture.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 

You may also have been warned away from “heresy hunters”. As you do research, you may find some websites that go overboard, but there are also many wonderful discernment ministries. A few recommendations: Justin Peter’s Clouds Without Water Seminar, (YouTube version) John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference, and book by the same name, Todd Friel’s Drunk in the Spirit DVD, Costi Hinn’s book Defining Deception, and the movies: American Gospel: Christ Alone and American Gospel: Christ Crucified. For teaching on contemplative prayer, check out Another Jesus Calling. For a great website on a biblical response to the modern prophets and apostles movement see Holly Pivec’s website, Spirit of Error.

Just a gentle word of caution. Do balance your research with time spent in God’s Word. It is easy to become almost obsessive in your quest for truth, in wanting to root out any lies of deception you believe, to be hyper-sensitive about being deceived again. Coming out of deception is a very painful experience. Have patience for yourself, and grace. God is a tremendous rescuer and he will lead you to freedom in His truth, as laid out in Scripture, as you seek Him.


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. 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!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Resources for Pastor Appreciation Month

Do you have any suggestions for things my church can do for our pastors during Pastor Appreciation Month?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month (PAM). It always sneaks up on me, so big thank yous to the reader who recently wrote in with a question related to PAM and jogged my terrible memory. We don’t want to forget our wonderful pastors!

Normally, I rerun the articles below every year on separate days near the end of September, but because I didn’t get it in gear this year, you’re getting all of them at once. Sorry about that. But at least you have the whole month of October to implement any of these ideas that would be a fit for your pastors and your church, and most of them require very little planning time.

Top 10 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastors During Pastor Appreciation Month

I’m so glad somebody thought up the idea of Pastor Appreciation Month and made it a thing. If you’ve never been a pastor (or been married to one), it’s difficult to adequately convey just how simultaneously challenging, joyful, devastating, frustrating, and fulfilling it can be. If you have a good pastor, who rightly divides God’s Word and is a man of godly character, you are very blessed. Here are ten ways you can show your pastors your gratitude, appreciation, and encouragement…

A Word Fitly Spoken: 11 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

Are you thankful for your pastor and a church that rightly handles God’s word? Are you telling anybody you’re thankful? Are you telling your pastor? Here are eleven ways you can encourage your pastor…

7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music

The pastor isn’t the only person on your church’s staff who needs your support. So does your minister of music. And, having been married to one for over twenty years, I can tell you there aren’t many articles out there letting you know how church members can encourage their ministers of music. Ready to show some love? Here are seven ways you can be an encouragement to your minister of music…

Is it OK if I print out and copy one (or more) of these articles?

Yes! You are always welcome to print out and make as many copies as you like of any article, Bible study, etc., you find here at the blog. (My article, Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor might make a nice bulletin insert during PAM.) All I ask is that you not change the content of any article, and that you stick my name (Michelle Lesley) and web address (MichelleLesley.com) on there somewhere. I’ve explained the reasons for this as well as tips for printing articles here (3rd section).

Just a few more points about PAM:

All three of these articles make this point, but I want to reiterate it here. If you’re going to do a big hoopla for PAM, please be sure all efforts are coordinated, none of your pastors are left out, and that there isn’t a huge discrepancy in the gifts you present various staff members (e.g. you get the pastor a new car and the minister of music gets a Hallmark card).

My husband was once on staff at a church as minister of music. There were only two other staff members, the pastor and the youth pastor. At the end of worship service one Sunday in October, the congregation as a whole ceremoniously presented the pastor with a gift for PAM. Then some of the youth called the youth pastor up to the front and presented him with a gift for PAM from the youth group and their parents. And nothing was said about, or done for, my husband. It was extremely discouraging to him, not because he didn’t get a gift, but because he felt ignored and unappreciated. Make sure you handle PAM sensitively and appropriately. You don’t want what started out as an act of encouragement to end up discouraging any of your pastors.

If you get your pastor a book or decide to send him to a conference, be sure to vet the author, speakers, and conference organization for sound doctrine first. I would recommend books and materials by any of the men listed at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page. Some super, doctrinally sound conferences you might consider: the G3 ConferenceShepherds’ Conference,Founders Conference, one of Ligonier’s Conferences, or  Cruciform Conference(And if you do decide to send him to a conference, make sure he’s actually able to attend before purchasing anything that’s non-refundable.)

Don’t just encourage and appreciate your pastors during the month of October. They need it all year long! If your church can’t afford to do something big and expensive for PAM (or even if it can) make October the kick-off month for a year full of encouragement for your pastors – have church members commit to pray regularly for your pastors from October 2019 to October 2020 (and then have them re-up next year!), make October the dedicated month for church members to sign up to serve your pastors in some way during each of the next 12 months. (Maybe in 2019-2020 various families sign up to bring each of the pastors a meal a month. In 2020-2021, maybe it’s monthly yard work or babysitting or house cleaning, etc.)

Let’s be sure to appreciate and encourage our pastors during PAM and all year long!


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.