Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (DivorceCare, When are they men?, Touring unbiblical churches…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


I’m wondering if the DivorceCare support groups are good?

I’ve never been to a DivorceCare group or been a part of a church that hosted a group or used its materials, so I’m strictly drawing on what I’m seeing on their website.

The DC statement of faith is biblical, if minimalistic.

The format of meetings is for the group to watch “a video seminar featuring top experts on divorce and recovery subjects” and then discuss it, support group style. So, I took a look at the list of seminar experts. I don’t recognize half or more of the names, but of the names I do recognize, most are biblical counselors (the biblical counseling world has a reputation for being generally doctrinally sound), and two or three are pastors and Bible teachers I wouldn’t recommend but aren’t heretics either (if they’re teaching strictly on issues of divorce, I’m guessing what you’ll get from their videos is pretty much in line with Scripture).

So, all of that to say, as far as the materials DC provides, I don’t think you’re going to be taught major doctrinal error if you choose to participate. However, I’m guessing these groups vary widely depending on who is leading them and how good or bad that person’s/church’s theology is, so that’s a major component to take into consideration.

Having said all of that, I would not recommend that you participate in a parachurch organization for help getting through a divorce. It’s not their job to do that, it’s your local church’s job. Your pastor should be counseling you and/or your spouse to reconcile if that’s at all possible, and counseling you in other ways if not. Your Sunday School or Bible study class and other church family should be supporting you, helping you, and walking through this difficult time with you. When Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens,” it’s talking to the church, not a parachurch organization or a support group. And you need real live, “Call me any time, day or night,” church family to do that, not a bunch of strangers, not an expert on a screen. I think people who choose a parachurch organization like this are going to miss out on a lot more than they realize.

Furthermore, while counseling people who are going through a divorce is a good and necessary thing, it concerns me that so many churches are putting so much emphasis on post-divorce programs when what they should be throwing most of their energy into is preventing divorce by:

  • preaching and teaching biblically about marriage and divorce
  • extensive pre-marital teaching and counseling
  • encouraging, strengthening, and enabling healthy marriages
  • intervening and helping couples in marital distress
  • treating initiating and pursuing divorce for unbiblical reasons as the sin the Bible says it is
  • commencing with church discipline for church members who are initiating and pursuing divorce for unbiblical reasons.

Churches that proactively support and protect marriage this way will rarely find the need for divorce counseling.


I agree that Scripture is clear about women not teaching men the Scriptures. At what age are males considered to be ‘men’?

It’s an insightful question, and one that there’s no hard and fast “exact age” answer to. I think most of us would probably agree that pre-teens and under are children, not men, and I hope that most of us could agree that males in their mid-20s and upward are men. It’s those pesky teens to early 20s ages that throw a monkey wrench into the question.

Males ages 18 to early 20s may, in some cases seem like boys, but for this question, I think the common grace of American law (if you’re an American) can help us feel confident defining any male over 18 as a man. If American law treats a person as an adult at age 18 with regard to crimes, voting, marriage, property, etc., should the church be treating them as children?

So now we’ve narrowed our window of potential “men” down to age 12 or 13 to 17. And for that narrow window of ages, I’m going to refer you to question 13 of my article Rock Your Role FAQs:

What about teaching the boys in my church’s youth group?

Women should not serve as youth pastors. The Bible restricts pastoral and elder roles to men.

As to teaching the Bible to co-ed groups of minors (in Sunday School, as a youth helper, etc.), there is no hard and fast rule, but my recommendation is that a good time for women to break from teaching boys at church is around the time they start middle school. In the Bible, boys traditionally moved from childhood to adulthood at age thirteen. Jesus exhibited growth toward manhood and engaged the rabbis in the temple at age twelve. Of course, these are both anecdotal and neither means this age is the basis of any sort of law for Christian women about teaching boys, but there seems to be some wisdom there- a good rule of thumb. Once they hit their early teens, boys really need the guidance of godly men who can lead by example and teach them what it means to grow into godly manhood. When it comes to teaching adolescent boys at church, it’s much less about what women are “allowed” to do and much more about the best way to grow godly men. Only men can train boys to be men.


Over the years when we have visited various cities, we have toured old churches, several of which have been Catholic churches. Our main interest has been the architecture of the buildings along with the historical aspect. We have never participated in a church service, only informational tours. I was wondering if you have an opinion of Christians touring Catholic churches.

For someone who is genuinely saved, and in no danger of being wooed toward false doctrine simply by walking through a beautiful building and listening to a tour guide, I don’t think that’s problematic at all. Simply being in a building and learning about its structure and history doesn’t mean you agree with what happened there. I mean, if you toured Auschwitz, that would not mean you agreed with or supported what happened there, right? When I was in Egypt several years ago, I toured (as far as women were allowed to tour) a mosque. If I were in Salt Lake City, I would certainly check out the Mormon Tabernacle. If I were in Rome I would visit the Vatican. There’s nothing sinful for you personally about going to places like these to view the architecture or learn something about the religion or customs any more than it would be wrong to read about those things in a book.

If your conscience doesn’t bother you about taking the tour itself, and you’re not worried about your theology veering off course, there are only two ways I can think of that this could be a problem, biblically. First, if there’s an admission fee to tour the church, what is that money supporting? Speaking for myself, I could not knowingly pay a fee that would, in any way, support a false religion or the spread of it. Second, would entering one of these buildings somehow hurt your witness or be a stumbling block to someone who knows you? That would really depend on the other person, the situation, etc., but that is something you should take into consideration.

I would suggest that you look for opportunities for evangelism during these tours. Leave a tract behind if there’s a way to do that without littering (the ladies’ room is usually a good spot). Before you leave, take a moment to silently pray for the salvation of the people who go to church there (or work there, or are on the tour with you). If there’s an opportunity to ask a simple gospel-centered question or make a biblical comment during the tour, take advantage of that (don’t interrupt or argue, don’t lecture or debate, don’t do “gotcha” questions, and be sweet – you’re scattering seed, not waging war).

Enjoy your trip, and I hope you learn a great deal.


Michelle, are you going to be at the G3 Conference in January 2020?

I wish! I’d love to be there, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this time. It’s a wonderful conference, and I highly recommend it for everyone who’s able to attend. Y’all have fun!

(I will be at the Cruciform Conference next month, though! Find me and say hi!)


Thoughts on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church? Is that a denomination you would “approve of”? I like all of your stuff and we are looking for a new church home.

Thank you for your kind words. I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of that particular denominational niche. Coleen Sharp over at Theology Gals is my go to resource for all things Presbyterian. I would recommend you join the Theology Gals Facebook group and ask over there. I’m sure you will get much better information than I could give you.


So there are women in my home who enjoy, unaware, the teachings of Rohr/Shirer/Enneagram/journaling/meditation/etc. I’m not sure I really have a voice anymore in their spiritual pursuit outside of prayer. Do you have any strategies or a playbook of sorts on how to navigate through this season of life?

(This question comes from a gentleman.)

I’m so sorry for the difficult situation you’re in. It is always sorrowful and frustrating to watch those we love chase after ungodly things.

You say “there are women in my home,” so I’m not really clear on whether these women are your wife, daughters, sisters, other relatives, female boarders, etc. I’m also unclear on whether or not you are the head of the home (husband/dad).

If you are not the head of the home (i.e. these women are your mother and sisters or other relatives or non-relations over whom you have no biblical authority), continue to pray for them and set up an appointment with your pastor for counsel on how best to handle this situation.

If you are the head of the home, I’m sure you know that God has given you the responsibility of being the spiritual leader of your household. I’m honored that you reached out to me for help, but learning to lead well is going to be a long road of face to face discipleship that must take place in your own local church with your pastor and brothers in Christ there. As a woman, I am neither equipped, nor would it be biblically appropriate for me to walk you through this long term and through a computer screen. There are no magic strategies for a quick fix, but your church family can help you work through the “playbook” – the Bible – as you grow in Christ and in spiritual leadership. I would strongly recommend that you set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling and, definitely continue to pray for these women.


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.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ February 27, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Sheologians posted a great episode: Almost: Our Encouragement & Concern with the IF:Gathering. They explained some of the things that attract women to this conference as well as the theological problems with it. They have also published a follow up blog post, Almost: an addendum since releasing this episode. I’ve added both to my resources on IF at the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page.

 

Tim Challies simply and handily explains 2 Timothy 3:6-7 in this 2016 article, Capturing Weak Women.

 

 

Women’s Hope Project recently started a new Bible study on Galatians on their podcast. A free study guide is available.

 

 

 

All main sessions, breakout sessions, and Spanish sessions of the 2018 G3 Conference: Knowing God- A Biblical Understanding of Discipleship have been uploaded to the G3 app, so download the app to access some awesome teaching. All of the sessions were phenomenal, but if you only have time for a few, I’d recommend starting with the (three) Martha Peace and (two) Justin Peters breakout sessions. You can also register for next year’s conference on missions and get the early registration rate.

 

Do you enjoy writing? Even if you don’t, I think you’ll like these 7 Writing Tips from Charles Spurgeon.

 

Doctrinally Sound Teachers, Special Events

Report Back: Reflections on G3 Conference 2018

 

A week ago today, I was drinking from the fire hose of good teaching and good fellowship at the 2018 G3 Conference: Knowing God – A Biblical Understanding of Discipleship. I not only had the blessing of being able to hear many of my heroes in the faith speak for the first time in person, but I also had the joy of meeting numerous social media friends – finally! – face to face.

Some of the wonderful brothers and sisters I got to hear from:

I remarked to a friend that it felt strange to me when readers approached me during the conference to thank me for being a good resource for them. “I’m not really a resource,” I said, “I point people to others who are good resources.” So, in keeping with pointing you to good resources, I’d like to share a little about some of the pastors and teachers I sat under last weekend – not so much about what they taught, but more about how God uniquely crafted and fit each of them into the Body to minister to their local churches, and the church at large, in their own special way. I highly recommend each of them to you.

Josh Buice

A superb example to other pastors, Josh has the heart of a shepherd and a servant. He is genuine and humble, and his greatest concern is that His people know and serve God through their local church. I’ve previously recommended Josh here and have had the pleasure of linking to many of his materials.


Tim Challies

Tim is someone who has figured out his ministry context and is flourishing in it. He not only serves his church well, but is intent on learning from his church in order to serve it better. Tim’s is one of the handful of blogs I follow regularly.


David Miller

Kindness and grace personified, David has a way about him of speaking hard truths in gentleness. Due to degenerative muscular atrophy, David uses a wheelchair and had to memorize his entire sermon including the lengthy Scripture passages he cited, which was very encouraging to me for my own Scripture memory. David reminded me of older, small church pastors I have known who are so good at loving and caring for their sheep.


Justin Peters

If you’ve ever wondered what biblical meekness looks like, you need to get to know Justin Peters. Calm, kind, graceful, knowledgeable, and with a quick wit, Justin cares deeply about sound doctrine and calling out false teachers because he has a heart for people to be saved and know the truth of the gospel. Justin taught two breakout sessions on the New Apostolic Reformation, and I am overjoyed to report to you that there was standing room only (and there were many standing) for both sessions. What a joy to see Christians getting informed so they can protect themselves and their churches! I have recommended Justin here and have linked to several of his resources.

Justin’s a Louisiana expat in the Northwest, so I brought him
some essentials from home: king cake and crawfish :0)


Voddie Baucham

Voddie is intense. He is passionate about preaching and the Scriptures to such an extent you begin to sense that, if he could, he’d grab you by the shoulders and physically stuff you with Scripture and a proper understanding of it. He wants the church to get it. I’ve recommended Voddie here.


Martha Peace

Gracious. Godly. Gutsy. That’s the “G3” of Martha Peace. Unlike so many of today’s “divangelistas” Martha is not a young, silly, hyper Barbie doll. She’s older, mature, and sedate, yet still fun to be around. She doesn’t have the perfect figure or the trendiest clothes. She looks and acts like your average, older, wiser sister at church. And that’s a good thing. We need far more mature sisters like that to look up to. It was a blessing to see her breakout sessions full of younger women who want that kind of biblical teaching and example from a Titus 2 woman. I’ve recommended Martha before, based largely on others recommending her to me. Now it’s my pleasure to commend her to you, having personally heard her speak.


My dear friend, Darlene (left), with her hero of Biblical Counseling and women’s Bible study, Martha Peace.


James White and Michael Kruger

Drs. White and Kruger presented a joint session on the canon of Scripture. Lovable eggheads both, they showcased the fact that Believers don’t have to gullibly check their intellects at the door of Christianity and that academicians don’t have to be godless liberals. They made “doctrinally sound smart” look beautiful.

Paul Tripp

I thought I was a fairly decent parent until I sat under Paul Tripp’s teaching, but I get the feeling he can make pretty much any parent feel like a failure. There’s a purpose to that: without God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, relying on your own efforts, you are a failure as a parent. Paul wants you to see that so you’ll stop trying to parent in the flesh and parent with the gospel instead so that your children might be saved.


Derek Thomas

Derek Thomas is the iconic image of an elder statesman pastor, a breath of fresh air standing in stark contrast to today’s cool, hipster, twentysomething pastors. There is a Bible-fueled furnace deep in Derek’s soul that empowers his preaching. He is living proof that formal doesn’t have to equal cold and boring.


Tom Ascol

This is a man who knows God and wants you to know Him, too. Tom is a regular Joe who’s good at explaining biblical concepts simply and lovingly, like the uncle who taught you how to tie your shoe or ride a bike. I was pleased to learn that he is Southern Baptist as well as the executive director of Founders Ministries, and am looking forward to hearing more from him.


Steve Lawson

Long one of my favorite pastors, Steve Lawson is the definition of unction in preaching. The man is a preaching machine, and I don’t see how he replenishes all the calories he must burn off in the pulpit. There is an urgency about his preaching that says, “You need to know this, and you need to know it now because it will help you love Jesus more, and you don’t want to wait another second to love Him more, do you?” It’s been my pleasure to recommend Dr. Lawson here. If you listen to preaching and podcasts, you’ll want to add him to your queue.


Phil Johnson

The man knows his stuff, and he tells it like it is. He’s a straight shooter. That’s the main thing I appreciate about Phil Johnson. There’s no way I could briefly capture the awesomeness that is Phil, so I’ll just leave you with a little tidbit I learned on this trip, that made him even dearer to my heart. He said he was a terrible extemporaneous speaker, but a decent writer, so when he preaches, he writes out his manuscript word for word and reads from it at the pulpit. I’m exactly the same way when it comes to speaking. If you’re not already listening to, and reading Phil, get caught up. I’ve enthusiastically recommended him here.


Equally as important as the wonderful teaching at G3 was the opportunity to meet so many good friends I’d only been able to get to know on social media. I even got to meet a few readers, too!

Nate Pickowicz, Gabriel Hughes, Me, Beki Hughes, Sonya Walker

Josh Buice said something during his sermon that really stuck with me: Attending a conference is an unbelievably wonderful experience, but it isn’t church. Church is where we go back to when a conference is over – to do the hard and joyful work of ministry and the long-term labor of love of discipling and being discipled in the local body.

And Josh was absolutely right. God doesn’t call us to be conference junkies, bouncing from event to event because we’re addicted to the high we get from “mountaintop experiences.” That’s not real life. And it’s not biblical life, either. God calls every Christian to be plugged into a local body of Believers. To walk with the same group of people week in and week out through sorrows and joys, sins and victories.

Aaron Armstrong                                                            Allen Nelson

But in another sense, the very reason conferences like G3 are so addictive, is that they are the church. The universal church. The church catholic. The family of Believers we’ll spend eternity with.

I can’t tell you how many times I totally tuned out the preaching or the music and just looked out over that sea of people I’d never seen before – enraptured by the words of  God, praising the name of our dear Savior – and thought, “This is the tiniest little taste of what Heaven is going to be like.”

Kevin and Lynnette

And every time I shrieked with delight at the first glimpse of a precious friend I’d previously known only online, I thought again, “This is what Heaven will be like!” A glorious family reunion with loved ones – those we’ve known personally, those we’ve known from afar, and those we’ve never met before – all bound together by our mutual love, adoration, and worship of Jesus.

Thanks so much to those of you who generously gave financial gifts which enabled me to attend G3. Your investment and kindness meant so much to me, and I hope you’ll be blessed by the way God has grown and encouraged me through this conference as I continue to serve you through this online ministry.

If you ever get the chance to attend G3, I can’t recommend it enough. But if you don’t, you can download the G3 app, listen to all the teaching from past conferences, and soon, from this year’s conference.

The G3 Conference was a wonderful experience, and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to go back. I think the most important thing I learned at G3 is that a Christian conference can do lots of things, but if it doesn’t send you back home loving your own church more and equipped to serve it better, it hasn’t done its job. I came home with both. Thanks, Josh Buice, Pray’s Mill Baptist Church, and everyone associated with the G3 Conference.

Discernment, Doctrinally Sound Teachers, Word of Faith Movement

Josh Buice – Justin Peters Interview

(Photos courtesy of twitter)

One of my favorite blogs is pastor Josh Buice’s Delivered by Grace. Josh is pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia, near Atlanta, and also coordinates the annual G3 Conference (gospel, grace, and glory) there. I’d highly recommend anything Josh is in charge of, so read the blog, go to the conference, and visit his church next time you’re in the area.

Josh recently interviewed another favorite of mine, Justin Peters. Justin is perhaps best known for his teaching and discernment ministry exposing the Word of Faith movement. You’ll definitely want to visit Justin’s web site to read his amazing testimony and view an excerpt from his discernment seminar.

In the interview, Justin touched on his testimony, discussed the Word of Faith movement, talked about false teachers Todd White, Joseph Prince, Beth Moore (more information here, including Josh’s article referred to in the interview and more from Justin on Beth), and Joyce Meyer, and explained the problems with heavenly tourism books and movies like Heaven Is for Real. The interview is both informative and edifying, and I encourage you to give it a listen.

Click Here to Listen