Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Karen’s Story

Karen’s Story

I have sat under lukewarm teaching as well as seriously warped false teaching from both men and women over the years. Both my husband and I were just going through the motions of church, feeling like we needed to go because that’s what you do, getting involved, putting on a good front but honestly always feeling like something was missing.

My husband and I were just going through the motions of church…

I believe we were both saved, we knew we were sinners, knew only Christ could save us, sincerely repented, but then did the whole “ask Jesus into your heart” thing over and over again because of the need to “make sure”. But we were dying on the vine, as a friend of mine described it.

The final straw was a women’s group where the leader taught a study that she had written herself. The church thought so much of it they even helped her get it published. The book was full of Bible verses, all out of context and used for the purpose of getting her points across. I seriously began to dread going to that group, but dragged myself there weekly, thinking, “This is what I am supposed to be doing,” and at the same time wondering what was wrong with me because I hated it. I was so ignorant of God’s Word that I even sat there in silence when, as a group, we would pray and women in the room, one being the leader/writer of the study, were praying “in tongues”, no interpretation of course.

I was so ignorant of God’s Word…

During one of those gatherings, the woman who wrote the study told us about how she had been given the opportunity to preach on an upcoming Sunday at the church, saying, “Who says women can’t preach?”. BOOM, my heart was instantly in my throat, I felt flushed and agitated, but as I looked around the room I saw nodding heads agreeing with her. Somehow, even though I only read it in bits and pieces, I was quite sure the Bible did NOT agree with her bold statement. I wish I could have jumped up and challenged her and all the ladies in that room but because I did not know the Bible well, I simply shrank in my seat. However, I did know I had to leave so I mustered the courage and politely dismissed myself, never to return. I could not get out of that parking lot fast enough!

Do you know what I began doing then? Simply reading my Bible, in context. God was so gracious to me, giving me a hunger for TRUTH. I was able to find Michelle’s website, John MacArthur’s sermons and Chris Rosebrough’s teaching videos.

I then reached out to two friends who had attended that same study. One totally heard all that I was telling her about the importance of reading Scripture in context, the other, who was a member at that church, dug her heels in when I took her to passages about women preaching. She didn’t want to hear it because the teacher/author of the study “is gifted, anointed and loves preaching”. It has become apparent that she wants nothing more to do with me. God has allowed me though to share with other women who were in the same position I was a few years ago.

God has allowed me to share with other women…

One of those women happens to be my next door neighbor! That family has been there for years. Our children grew up together. They church hopped just like we did, moving aimlessly about for years. And then one day, after my family had been through all our disobedient wanderings, she and I began to talk – long discussions about God, the Bible, our sinfulness, the endless women’s studies of taking verses out of context, twisting them to mean something God didn’t intend, ignoring the Gospel, but always glorifying ME instead of the ONE who made me. Soon, we began praying together. Isn’t God amazing?!

Isn’t God amazing?!

It is a MUCH longer story but the end result is our families are now in a Reformed church that adheres to the 1689 London Baptist Confession, where we get the Word exposited on a weekly basis and each service includes the Gospel!! We are joyfully involved and now a part of a true church family. I am brought to tears continually at God’s grace, mercy, patience, and goodness for this undeserving wretch that I am.


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!

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Carol’s Story

Carol’s Story

My name is Carol and this is a story of how God can and does work for those who love him and seek after him. Our journey in various churches is a reflection on how immature and ignorant of God’s word my husband, Bill and I have been. We would join a church on nothing more than a feeling, then eventually would see false teachings or unfruitful behaviors, then confront the leaders, then get abused by them, then leave. This became a pattern for us. Each time thinking, “This is the right one,” then each time the same pattern as mentioned above emerged.

Each time thinking, “This is the right one,”…

As a talented guitar player, Bill would always join the worship teams. At one point we actually did find a decent church based on our feelings. However now looking back I can see a whole bunch of lukewarm error, not exactly deceptive, yet they allowed some questionable popular Bible studies in, and the teaching was more experiential than exegesis. It was a nondenominational church as were all the previous churches we had belonged to. The worship leader became a good friend and we were pretty happily going along until he and his wife decided to become missionaries in Romania.

Before they departed, Bill made them a promise that if or when they came back, he would help with the music wherever they landed. Once again, making decisions based on our feelings of devotion to a person and not on biblical foundations. So as promised when they arrived back we left our lukewarm church to help him start a worship team. It was a Baptist church much further away for us to travel to. But we made a promise and we were excited to embark on this new journey with our good friends.

After five years, we began questioning whether we should be playing Bethel music as worship. Our friend’s reply was that as long as the lyrics were okay, it was okay to play it. Then one day I heard a podcast in which a young lady had gone to Bethel and through SOZO counseling became convinced that she suffered abuse from her parents. Bethel leaders denied her parents visitations or any kind of communication with her. I was so moved by this that I asked my husband to help me do some research into Bethel and their musicians. I also wrote to Jan Markel asking her views on playing their music in church. Her response was “No church should ever allow their music”. Thus began many email exchanges between us.

The more research we did, the more convicted and convinced we became and while we kept mentioning our research to others in the church, it was always shrugged off as nothing important at all. Eventually we put all of our research into a paper entitled “Why Our Church Should Not Play Bethel Music as Worship” and we presented it to our dear friend, the worship leader. We presented facts, Scripture, resources from various pastors including John MacArthur, Justin Peters, Todd Friel, Jan Markel, and I had just discovered Michelle Lesley as well. We provided links to sermons and videos, etc…. It was all impersonal facts, and we prayed fervently over it as we wrote it, then again as we delivered it.

We prayed fervently…

Several weeks later we received an email from the pastor. He implied that we may have committed blasphemy, then told us we were very weak in our commitment to the church and that we were church hoppers looking for the perfect church, which doesn’t exist. This from a pastor who was there as long as we had been and whose church history is fairly similar to ours. I won’t even go into the ridiculous threat of committing blasphemy as there are plenty of good solid studies on it which refute his use of it. As far as our commitment, I will say that at one time during those five years, our twelve year old grand daughter’s bone cancer returned and we focused our attention on her and getting her through the painful surgeries. We still served the church to the best of our abilities during that time and after her recovery. So his response was a severe gut punch for those reasons as well as the fact that he revealed so much about himself that we had not seen before. Oh, our dear worship leader friend? We asked if he agreed with the pastor and it has been crickets from him ever since.

Heartbroken is a complete understatement, yet I think the Holy Spirit finally got through to our thick skulls. We finally came to the conclusion that we would never attend another church without a thorough vetting. So we sent an email out to multiple area churches with one question as the entry question. It was “How do you handle Bethel music as worship in your church?”

I think the Holy Spirit finally got through…

None replied. However in God’s sovereign grace he arranged for us to serve in a disaster relief program for some flood victims in a different church. During our service we met the Pastor who was new to this church. At one point during our conversations he asked if we had sent him an email about Bethel music. He had not replied to our email as it hit his inbox at a time when the flood had hit and he himself was busy with disaster relief. But he had intended on getting back to us eventually. He said he had not considered anything at all about Bethel, until that email which got him into doing some research and he became convicted by the extent of their heresies. He then asked us to help him put together a sermon about Bethel in which he would be denouncing their teachings and their music and making it very clear why it would not be played in his church anymore.

I will never forget the day he preached that sermon. In all the years and all the churches we had been in, we had never heard one like it. He mentioned the random email he had received and how it got him to question why someone would ask it? I still fight back tears when I recall how blessed we have been to finally be in a place where God’s word is revered above all else. No, there are no perfect churches, but some are grounded in the word of God and some are not. Some are willing to protect the flock from wolves in sheep’s clothing and some are the wolves. We finally found a true shepherd! We are now members of this church serving on the worship team, the media team, the youth group and eventually will be hosting a home group focused on discernment.

I still fight back tears when I recall how blessed we have been…

I wanted to share this testimony because we have gone through some very dark and depressing times, but God has been there in those times and has guided us toward him and his glory. If you are going through something similar, as long as you are on the solid rock of his word, nothing and no one can prevail against you. Keep standing on the rock of his word. He will be honored and glorified no matter how much it hurts in those dark times.

God Bless!

(P.S. – Since then, we have been on Jan Markell’s podcast Understanding the Times, in a two part show entitled “Worship Wars”, she also played a clip of our new pastor’s sermon. I have started my own blog as an outreach to the lost and to those lost in deception. It’s called Berean Real.)


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!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Resources for Pastor Appreciation Month

Originally published September 30, 2019

 

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.

(2020 Note: Surprisingly, I was actually on top of it this year. These articles ran last week, but in case you missed them… There’s also some additional information that follows the articles.)

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.

Church, Encouragement

A Word Fitly Spoken: 11 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!
Show your pastors some appreciation by encouraging them!

Originally published February 23, 2018

I hope you have the blessing of sitting under good, biblical preaching at your church. I do. I’m always so thankful to hear God’s word beautifully preached in my own church, and I’m thankful for the all of the other godly men out there laboring faithfully each week to proclaim the truth of the gospel to the sheep God has entrusted to them.

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?

The ministry is a tough job, and pastors need all the encouragement they can get. Sometimes it’s the little things you say and do that can be a blessing to your pastor and make his job easier and more joyful. Proverbs 25:11 says:

Here are eleven ways you can encourage your pastor (and don’t forget your associate pastor, minister of music, youth pastor, etc.!)

1.

Pray for your pastor

Some specifics you can pray for:

💭 His wife and children

💭 His stress level, and for peace

💭 His finances and provision

💭 His marriage, and that he will be a good father

💭 That God will grow him in his understanding and handling of Scripture

💭 That God will grow him in discernment, and guard him from being influenced by false teachers/doctrine

💭 That God will protect him from temptation and lead him to repentance when he sins

💭 And here are even more ways to pray for your pastor.

Remember to tell your pastor you’re praying for him, and ask him if there’s anything in particular you can pray for him about.

2.
Show Up

First of all, Scripture says you’re supposed to be a faithful, active member of your local church. Second, it’s very discouraging to pastors when church members who are perfectly able to attend faithfully simply choose to let other, non-essential things take precedence.

3.
Be Present

Pay attention, be engaged, and have a pleasant look on your face during the sermon. If you’ve ever stood in front of a group of people, you know how easy it is to tell who’s “with you” and who’s not. And the more “with yous” there are out there, the more encouraging it is.

4.
A Word of Thanks

Just say thank you. Thank you for being my pastor, for being faithful to the Word, for encouraging me, for working so hard, for studying well…

5.
Submit to His Leadership

Take Hebrews 13:17-18 seriously:


Yes, there are abusive pastors out there. Yes, there are pastors who are flagrantly disobedient to Scripture in their leadership. If that’s your pastor, leave that church and find a pastor you can trust (yes, I know it’s hard), and whose leadership you can submit to. Don’t be the constantly complaining, argumentative, nit picky thorn in your pastor’s side.

6.
Don’t Major on the Minors

If you do need to speak to your pastor about something you disagree with him about, whenever possible, try to make sure it’s a biblical issue rather than an issue of preference, and make sure you do it in love and kindness, not in an attacking way.

7.
Wait, Mr. Postman…

Isn’t it nice to open your mail or e-mail and find something besides bills and bad news? Send your pastor a note, card, or e-mail of encouragement.

8.
C is for Cookie (and Calories)

Think before you bake. When I want to send someone a little token of encouragement, my first instinct is always to bake something. But a lot of pastors, like everyone else these days, are dieting, so use wisdom. Maybe a gift card to his favorite store or restaurant, a book by his favorite author, or a service he needs performed would be better. Here are some more ideas if you want to give your pastor a token of appreciation.

9.
A Word Fitly Spoken

Tell your pastor something you learned from the sermon or how God has been growing you through his preaching. Let him know how your Sunday school class is maturing. Tell him about the good progress that’s being made in the committee you serve on or the ministry you serve in.

10.
Perfect Timing

Do not pull your pastor aside right before the service to discuss anything that could wait until later. He needs to be focused on preaching and worship. And don’t detain him for long after the service, either. He’s probably hungry, tired, has to go to the bathroom, and wants to get home to his family. Make an appointment during the week.

11.
Nobody’s Perfect

Remember that your pastor is human. He’s going to sin. He’s going to get things wrong. Don’t assume he knows why you’re upset with him. Don’t hold a grudge. Extend the same grace you would to anyone else, and forgive.

What are some other ways we can encourage our pastors?

Encouragement, Ministry

Throwback Thursday ~ 7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!
Show your minister of music some appreciation by encouraging him.

Originally published November 18, 2014

7 encourage MoM

Numerous articles have been written about how you, as a church member, can be an encouragement to your pastor- how you can constructively praise his sermon, pray for him, get him a great gift for Pastor Appreciation Month, etc. These are good things. Please be sure to support your pastor. Being a pastor is one of the toughest and most thankless jobs out there, and if you’ve read the statistics you know pastors need and deserve all the encouragement they can get.

But 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.

1. Make practice a priority.

Before you join the choir or praise team or volunteer to play an instrument, find out how much of a time commitment it will be, and consider whether or not you can diligently keep that commitment. Once you’ve joined or volunteered, attend rehearsals, worship services, and performances faithfully, and be sure to arrive on time. You have no idea how much it means to your minister of music that he can count on you.

2. Get to the church on time.

Think about how you would feel if you planned a dinner party, worked hard all week cooking and cleaning, and then one of the couples you invited carelessly showed up halfway through the meal. You’d probably think that was kind of rude and feel somewhat discouraged. That’s sort of the way a minister of music can feel when people (especially the same people every week) habitually arrive late to church for non-emergency reasons. Not only that, but it’s a distraction to others when you come in late, plus you’re missing out on praising God and getting your heart prepared to receive His word during the sermon. Being on time and ready for worship benefits everybody!

3. Sing.

If you were in a meeting at work or in a college class, would you pick up your knitting, clip your nails, walk around the room chatting with friends, or bury your nose in your phone the whole time? Probably not, yet, over the years I have seen church members do all these and more during the music portion of the worship service. It’s disrespectful to the God we’re supposed to be worshiping and to the minister of music who is trying to do the work God has called him to. On the other hand, I love it when we get in the car after church and my husband says, with a smile on his face, “Wow, they were really singing today!” We have an incredible Savior who has given us the privilege of praising Him, so let’s take Him up on it. Sing out! You can worship and be an encourager all at the same time.

4. Smile!

It’s pretty disheartening for a minister of music to stand up front, giving it all he’s got, and then look out over the congregation and see a bunch of people looking like they’d rather be at the dentist. Think about Who you’re singing to and all the reasons why you’re singing to Him, and I challenge you to keep a frown on your face! Just the simple act of smiling while you’re singing will do wonders for your minister of music (and for you!).

5. Think before you complain.

Has your minister of music said or done something that’s clearly a sin or false doctrine? If so, you have a biblical obligation  to go to him -kindly and in love- and talk to him about it directly.

Is your complaint a matter of personal preference- style of music, whether or not he wears a tie, etc.? Give it 24 hours. Does it still seem just as important? Could you possibly be a servant to him (and others in the congregation whose opinion is the opposite of yours) by overlooking an offense and not complaining?

If you do feel the need to voice your concern (and there are valid concerns that aren’t sin-related), approach your minister of music the way you would want to be approached. Instead of, “Turn that dadgum volume DOWN!” how about, “I was wondering if it would be possible to ask the sound tech to lower the volume in the house speakers a little? My baby’s ears are very sensitive and she gets fussy when it’s that loud. I hate missing worship when I have to take her out to the lobby.” Instead of, “Hymns are so boring. I don’t see why we have to sing them half the time,” how about, “I really loved those two worship songs we sang this morning! Do you think we might be able to sing more songs like that soon?” Christ wants us to be kind to one another, so show your minister of music a little “Golden Rule” love.

6. Speak encouraging words often.

It’s been our experience, and seems to be the general consensus among ministers of music, that the most common kind of feedback they get is negative feedback. People are much quicker to complain than affirm. Buck the trend. Did he choose one of your favorite songs for the service? Did a certain song help you to understand one of God’s attributes better? Did the choir do a nice job on their anthem? Are you praying for him? Tell him. He appreciates it more than you know.

7. Show tangible appreciation.

It is amazing what even the smallest gift can do to lift my husband’s spirits. A card of appreciation (I have come across cards that he has saved for years), something related to one of his hobbies, a church member buying him lunch at a fast food place. They might be small items monetarily speaking, but their message is, “I care about you, and I appreciate your hard work.” And that’s priceless.

We have been blessed over the last two decades to serve at several churches that had members who were very good at encouraging their minister of music. Their love and support made my husband’s ministry a joy. What are some ways you can think of to encourage the minister of music at your church and spread that same kind of joy?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.