Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Home churches, Non-Calvinist authors, Memes from false teachers, Contrarian commenter?)

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 (at the very bottom of each page) 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


What is your view of home/house churches?

My approach to home churches – small groups of Christians who meet in someone’s home to have a worship service together rather than attending an established local church- is:

  • I urge extreme caution when considering a home church
  • Start/attend a home church only as a last resort when you can’t find an established, doctrinally sound church within achievable driving distance of your home.
  • View the home church as a church plant (the home church will grow into an official, established church, rather than staying a home church)
  • Have a proper, biblical ecclesial structure (a biblically qualified pastor/elders/deacons, conduct worship gatherings according to biblical parameters, etc.)

I elaborated on this issue a little more in my article Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly:

I want to be clear that I advise [starting a home church] only as a last resort after exhausting every possibility of joining a biblical established church. I have known of people who withdrew from established churches because of doctrinal problems, and instead of searching for a sound, established church, decided to form a house church, which then fell into other doctrinal problems of its own. House churches can be very vulnerable to doctrinal error.

If you must meet with other believers outside of an established church, make sure whoever is pastoring the group is biblically qualified to do so, and that your home church carries out all of the components of a biblical church: Bible teaching, worship, prayer, care for members, the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and church discipline. There are many wonderful, trustworthy resources such as sermons, Bible teaching, and Bible study lessons available on line for free. Take advantage of them. You may also wish to contact your denomination’s headquarters, a reputable missions organization, or a doctrinally sound church planting organization and ask about the possibility of a missionary or church planter coming to plant a new church in your area.

In countries with governments which outlaw Christianity, underground home churches are the only option. That is not the case in America and most Westernized countries yet, though we are headed down that road. Until that time, I would strongly urge Western Christians to join with an established, doctrinally sound local church (keeping in mind that no church is perfect, and most won’t meet all your preferences), and if there isn’t one in your area, either contact a church planting organization or move to an area where there is an established, doctrinally sound church.

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians


Are there any non-Calvinist/Reformed authors you would consider solid?

There are probably scads of them, but – and it might surprise you to hear this – I don’t check to see whether or not someone is Calvinist/Reformed before deciding whether or not to read or listen to his materials, and consequently, I often don’t even know which soteriological label he wears. All I care about is whether or not he rightly handles Scripture and behaves in submission to Scripture.

I’m frequently on the receiving end of the accusation, “You just think anybody who’s not a Calvinist is a false teacher!”. It’s simply not true. That’s not something I consider an automatic litmus test of someone’s doctrinal soundness. The vast majority of the churches I have personally been a member of have not even had a Calvinist/Reformed pastor.

I’m sorry I can’t provide you with any specific names. Read people who handle Scripture correctly. That’s the best counsel I can give.

(Just a reminder, readers, I don’t allow Calvinism vs. Arminianism arguments in the comments sections of my articles. Comments like this won’t be posted.)


Just wondering how you respond to quotes/memes, etc from unbiblical teachers when it appears there’s nothing wrong with the quote/meme? A family member of mine often posts memes like this on Facebook. Most of them deal with being kind to each other, or continuing to trust God and rather simplistic things. I don’t disagree with that particular message but don’t want her to get caught up in false teaching.

I’m taking this to mean something like Lysa TerKeurst sharing a Bible verse meme or Beth Moore sharing a meme that says, “Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life,” or something like that. In other words, the content of the meme itself is in line with Scripture, but it has the name of a false teacher attached to it, and that’s what makes it problematic.

There could be a couple of different things happening here. It could be that your family member follows and is a fan of the false teacher she’s reposting. Or it could be that a Facebook friend of hers or some sort of “inspirational quotes” page she follows shared the meme and she is just re-sharing it having no idea who the false teacher is or what she teaches.

I would suggest contacting her privately in an e-mail or private message on Facebook (even if this is someone you see face to face regularly, because an e-mail or message is less confrontational and emotional, and also allows you to provide information more easily) and very lovingly, gently, and briefly say something like this:

Hi Laurel-

Hope you’re having a great day.

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I appreciate your heart for encouraging people on Facebook with the memes you post. So many people are hurting these days and are in need of a kind word.

I’m sure you didn’t realize it, but you’ve posted a couple of memes from Priscilla Shirer and Christine Caine, both of whom teach and do some very unbiblical things. As a Christian, I know you would never want to lead anyone astray from Scripture, even accidentally, so I thought I’d pass along this information on them to fill you in on where they’re coming from. If you have any questions or want to chat about it, just let me know.

Priscilla Shirer: https://michellelesley.com/2015/09/18/going-beyond-scripture-why-its-time-to-say-good-bye-to-priscilla-shirer-and-going-beyond-ministries/

Christine Caine: https://michellelesley.com/2016/03/04/chhave-no-regard-for-the-offerings-of-caine/

Love,
Kristy

And then I would leave it at that unless she brings it up and wants to talk. You can lead a horse to Living Water, but only the Holy Spirit can make him drink. :0)

Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet

Words with Friends by Amy Spreeman

Words with Friends at A Word Fitly Spoken (several great resources in the show notes)


Several years ago I had a falling out with a friend when I warned her about a false teacher and she vehemently disagreed. Since that time, she has begun following more and more false teachers, and has started a blog which centers around extra-biblical revelation. Recently, she asked me to subscribe to her blog. Is it proper for me to get involved with a blog with which I will be in total disagreement and arguing theology probably constantly? Should I join and be the only voice of Biblical reason?

It’s interesting, knowing your disagreement with the false teacher you initially warned her about, that she would ask you to subscribe to her blog. Is it possible she just sent out a blanket invitation to everyone on her e-mail list or to all her Facebook friends, forgetting that you were on that list? If you think that’s the case, and she wasn’t really inviting you personally, I would just ignore the invitation and go on my merry way.

If, however, this really was a personal invitation to you, my counsel would be to drop her a note (similar in tone to the one in the section above) saying that you really appreciate the invitation to subscribe to her blog, but that you find much of the subject matter of her blog to be unbiblical. So if you do subscribe, you will feel compelled – fairly often – to comment with biblical arguments against what she has written. And because of that constant state of argument, you don’t think it would be a good idea for you to subscribe to her blog.

As a blogger, I can tell you that I don’t like it when a person takes it upon herself to constantly argue against or attempt to correct my theology, and if that person keeps it up after being warned, she usually gets blocked or banned. My thought is, “If you’re so diametrically opposed to what I write, why in the world are you following me? Go find a blogger to follow whom you agree with and enjoy, or start your own blog for sharing your opinions.” So, since I know what that feels like, I try to extend that same courtesy to others. I don’t generally* follow blogs, social media accounts, etc., that I strongly disagree with and constantly argue with them. It rarely does any good or changes anyone’s mind. Better to hang on to your pearls and stay out of the pig pen.

You may find some of my thoughts in my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful since this is a similar situation, but I would still lean toward encouraging you not to follow your friend’s blog and argue constantly.

*(In the interest of full disclosure there is one Twitter account I follow – LifeWay Women – which I strongly disagree with most of the time because they promote false teachers. This is an agency of my denomination, not an individual, and I occasionally tweet refutations to/about them in order to make my fellow Southern Baptists on Twitter aware of the false teachers/doctrine their own denomination is promoting, and because my previous attempts to contact LifeWay privately have either been ignored or rebuffed. Still, I try not to constantly barrage them with argumentative tweets.)

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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Tithing, Beth Moore on abortion, wife earning more than husband…)

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


Any good info you can send in about tithing? Is it for NT believer? Are we in sin if we don’t?

Great question – and it’s one that a lot of Believers probably wonder about. For the long answer, check out my article To Tithe or Not to Tithe… (and don’t forget to click on the links in that article to the helpful resources I’ve included).

The short answer is no. Christians are not required by Scripture to tithe. The main Scripture that covers the principles for New Testament giving is 2 Corinthians 9:7:

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We are to give thoughtfully, decisively, generously, willingly, and gladly. Now, if you consider your finances and the needs of your church, you and ask God to help you make a wise decision about how much to give, and ten per cent is the prayerful conclusion you come to, then by all means, give ten per cent. If it’s fifty per cent or two per cent or 97 per cent or some other amount, give that. New Testament giving is about glad generosity of heart and godly decision-making, not rote fulfillment of a non-applicable Mosaic Covenant law.

Are you in sin if you don’t tithe? It depends on the reason you’re not tithing. If you’re not tithing (or giving) because you’re selfish and greedy and you don’t want to give anything to the church, then, yes, you’re sinning. If you’re not tithing because you’re barely scraping by and can only afford to give five per cent to the church, which you give with a joyful and generous heart, no, you’re not sinning. But for sure, if your pastor or someone else is attempting to coerce or compel you to tithe, he is putting you under the yoke of the law, he is violating 2 Corinthians 9:7, and he is in sin.


What is Beth Moore’s position on abortion?

I received this question from several readers in connection with the publication of An Open Letter to Beth Moore (which you can still sign if you haven’t yet, ladies).

I don’t know what Beth’s position on abortion is. I Googled “Beth Moore abortion” and the closest thing I came up with was a tweet thread from 2016 that had something to do with the presidential election and whether or not Beth supported Hillary Clinton (it wasn’t 100% clear since some of the tweets have since been deleted or made private). Some questioned Beth in that thread about her stance on abortion since they believed she supported Clinton, but while Beth clearly said she did not support either candidate, unless I missed a tweet or it was deleted, she did not state what her position on abortion was.

If you want to know Beth’s position on abortion, you will have to ask her. Since she is Southern Baptist, you may wish to ask her if she agrees with the portion of Article XV of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM2000– the SBC’s statement of faith) which states,

“We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

It is possible Beth would be willing to give a pro-life answer since it is likely much more acceptable among her followers for her to stand against abortion than to stand against homosexuality. But since she has already demonstrated that she is unwilling to take a firm biblical stand on an issue when doing so might diminish her popularity, I imagine she will respond to questions about abortion the same way she responded to our questions about homosexuality: ignore the questions as much as possible, or answer them in an obfuscatory or cryptic manner when pressed.


As a woman, am I sinning by witnessing to a man?

Nope. Not under the auspices of 1 Timothy 2:12, anyway. What you’re doing is carrying out the Great Commission, Jesus’ mandate to all Christians. A couple of articles that explain more and that you might find helpful:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#11)

The Mailbag: Is it biblical for women to carry out The Great Commission?


One of my loved ones says she hears God’s voice, still small voice, a new revelation from Him and so on. How can I search your website to get information on this?

May God bless you for wanting to help your loved one! I think these articles will help:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Michelle’s a money-grubber, Still small voice, Husband of one wife…)


Wondering what kind of instruction you received to teach what [you] have on your website. I have studied the Scriptures for many years, but am disappointed that I did not spot some of the false and lacking “teachers” you have written about. I found you, thankfully, by following a rabbit trail regarding false teachers. Thanks.

Thanks for asking! The biblical instruction I’ve received:

•Sitting under good preaching and teaching at my own church

•Studying straight from the Bible itself (not workbook/DVD studies, etc.) during my daily Bible study time

•Listening to good sermons and Bible teaching online

•Reading good, solid theological books by doctrinally sound authors.

I have audited one or two online seminary classes, but I’ve never been enrolled in a seminary, nor do I have a seminary degree.

I’ve explained a bit more about how I got started learning discernment here. Many of the authors, pastors, and teachers I’ve listened to can be found in the sidebar to your left (Blogs and Podcasts I Follow and Links I Love) and at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.

This is part of the reason I’m forever hounding women to put aside the “canned” studies and systematically study straight from the Bible for themselves and to get faithfully invested in a doctrinally sound church – it’s not only biblical, it works.


Biblical views on a wife making more than her husband financially?

To my knowledge, there is no passage in the Bible that explicitly prohibits a woman from having a larger salary than her husband’s, assuming that they are both employed in a manner that doesn’t violate biblical standards. (Readers- For the purposes of this question, let’s assume that neither spouse is neglecting his/her biblical duties to the marriage, children, or home by being employed in this season of his/her life.)

In other words, if they’re both employed full time and her position or field just happens to pay more than his position or field, that doesn’t violate any Scripture I’m aware of. Or there could be situations such as: a husband is ill or disabled and unable to work full time (or at all), or the husband has had to reduce his workload temporarily to care for an ill family member, go back to school, etc. However, if it’s a situation like the wife is making more money because the husband is a lazy bum who refuses to work enough hours (or at all) to support his family, that would be sinful on his part.

If there’s nothing unbiblical about the wife’s or the husband’s employment situation but it bothers one or both of them that her salary is larger, they should sit down, talk it out, and pray through the issue to discover and resolve the problem. I would also recommend setting up an appointment with their pastor or a biblical counselor for counseling (see Biblical Counseling Resources tab at the top of this page).


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.

Sanctification

Watch Your Language! 10 Christian Terms that Need to be Cleaned Up

For the next several weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the
Relying on God and His Word conference, so I’ll be re-running
some popular articles from the archives. I hope you’ll enjoy this one.

Originally published August 25, 2017

What would you think of a surgeon who forgot to take his scalpel to work one day and decided his pocketknife would be an adequate substitute? Or a chef who ran out of vanilla and figured peppermint extract would work just fine in its place? At the very least, you’d probably think he was being a little sloppy and careless – not putting enough thought into his work. At worst, he could injure, sicken, or kill somebody.

When it comes to our Christian vernacular, we need to make sure we’re using the right word for the right task. “Well, she knows what I meant,” doesn’t cut it these days, as anyone on social media can attest. Sometimes, even as perfectly doctrinally sound Christians, we get a little sloppy with our phraseology, which can, at best, confuse people, and, at worst, defame God. We need to proactively think about the meanings of the words we use and be careful to say what we mean and mean what we say.

Let’s watch our language on these ten terms and phrases and determine to use more precise, God-exalting vocabulary instead:

1. Let or allow God to…
When the doctrinally sound Christians I know say they need to “let” or “allow” God to do something in their lives, they don’t mean: “I’m in charge here, and I call the shots. God can only do what I, as the boss, deign to permit Him to do.” What they mean is, “I need to stop doing things that are displeasing to God and obey His Word because He wants to grow me to greater Christlikeness.” Unfortunately, one of the tenets of Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine is that Christians are the ones in authority and that God can only do what we allow Him to do. That’s blasphemy, and not something we even want to hint at with careless wording. We need to make sure our words communicate that God is in charge and we are His humble servants.

More God-exalting: “I need to submit to God’s will.” “I need to make sure I’m not standing in opposition to God’s work in my life.”

2. Accept Jesus or make Jesus Savior/Lord of your life
Again, “accept” and “make” put us in the driver’s seat and leave Jesus a puppet who moves at our whim. Jesus is King. We do not accept Him, He graciously accepts us. We do not “make” Him Savior or Lord. He already is Savior and Lord. We throw ourselves upon His mercy to save us and bow the knee to His Lordship.

More God-exalting:Ask God to save you.” “Believe the gospel.”

3. God said or told me; listen to God
Possibly the most prolific false teaching today is that God regularly speaks to individuals verbally, through dreams and visions, or through signs, outside of Scripture, about the mundane issues of life, despite the fact that God Himself tells us He doesn’t speak this way and that His written Word is sufficient for our every need. God speaks to us, and we hear Him, through His written Word, the Bible. When we talk about God speaking to us, we need to make sure we’re driving that idea home, not subtly reinforcing the false idea that God is speaking to us outside of Scripture.

More God-exalting: God tells us in Colossians 3:12…” “The Bible says in Proverbs 13:24…”

4. God showed up
No, He didn’t. God has never – in the history of all eternity, nor in eternity yet to come – “shown up.” When we say somebody “showed up,” the common understanding is that someone arrived on the scene who was not previously present. That has never been, and can never be, true of an eternal, omnipresent God. God has always been present everywhere. Sometimes what’s actually happening when people say “God showed up” at church is that they had an emotional response to the music, or experienced a temporary worldy sorrow over their sin. But when God really does seem to “show up,” what’s usually the case is that we “showed up” by prayerfully preparing our hearts for worship, by responding in repentance to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, by taking joy in praising and thanking God, or that God answered prayer or allowed us to see His hand at work in a situation.

More God-exalting: “It was a wonderful time of worship this morning!” “Thank you, God, for letting us see how You’re working!”

5. Tithes and offerings, or offerings over and above the tithe
Tithing, like making animal sacrifices or celebrating Israel’s various feasts and festivals, is an Old Testament law which Jesus fulfilled and is no longer binding on Christians. God’s instruction to Christians about giving is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7. When we try to impose Old Testament law upon New Testament Christians, we are violating God’s clear command that Christians are not to give under compulsion. On the other side of the coin (pun intended) merely plunking ten per cent of your earnings into the offering plate voluntarily and thinking you’re good to go with God isn’t right either. We are to follow Christ’s example of generosity and self-sacrifice as we minister to the church and others, giving up, if necessary, even our very lives.

More God-exalting: Offerings, gifts, generous giving, sacrificial giving

6. I have a peace about this
Often, this phrase reveals more than simple sloppy wording, it demonstrates that someone is relying more on her feelings, opinions, and experiences than on God’s Word to determine right from wrong. If there’s a Bible verse that tells us that a feeling of “peace” is what unequivocally confirms that we’re obeying God, I haven’t run across it. I’ve heard women say they have “a peace” about leaving their husbands for sinful reasons, or that they have “a peace” about opting out of church when God clearly commands the opposite. The fact of the matter is that our feelings are deceptive. We can have peaceful feelings about things that are ungodly, and anxious feelings even when carrying out the clear commands of Scripture. Scripture is our measuring stick for right and wrong, godly and ungodly, not our feelings.

More God-exalting: “I’m going to obey God’s Word and trust Him.”

7. What do you feel God would have you do?
Christians are not supposed to live our lives guided by our feelings. We are to live lives governed by the authority of God’s written Word. And it’s important that our vocabulary reflect that by being precise when we’re talking about making decisions. Our feelings are fleeting, fickle, and often false. What’s important – and what we’re to base all of our thoughts, words, and actions upon – is, “What does Scripture say about this?”

More God-exalting: What does the Bible say you should do?” “Let’s pray and ask God for wisdom to rightly apply Scripture to this situation.”

8. What is God’s will for my life?
Frequently, when Christians ask this question, it’s in the context of making a life-altering decision about which college to attend or career to choose, whom to marry, and if, when, and how many children to have. But that’s not what “God’s will” means as outlined by Scripture. God’s will is for Christians to get up every day and walk in obedience to His Word. That’s it. That’s God’s will for your life. When it comes to making decisions, we rightly apply Scripture to the situation, pray that God will give us wisdom and direction, and make the most godly decision we can, trusting that the God who’s completely aware that we’re frail and by no means omniscient, will direct our paths.

More God-exalting: “How can I walk in obedience to God today?” “God, please give me wisdom and direct my path in this situation.”

9. God can’t ____ unless we ____.
I beg your pardon, but God can do whatever He wants to do (that’s in keeping with His nature and character), and He’s not sitting around wringing His hands, hoping we’ll do the right thing so He can act. That’s a theology that makes man omnipotent and God impotent. Psalm 135:5-6 says it best: “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the deeps.”

More God-exalting:The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, if we ____, God will ___.”

10. The Mormon church, the Roman Catholic church, a New Apostolic Reformation church, etc.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of calling these religious organizations “churches” because that’s what they call themselves. But any gathering that doesn’t preach the biblical gospel is not a church, regardless of what the sign out front says. Human beings do not get to define what the church is. Only God gets to do that. And He has defined the church as Christ’s body, whom He died for and saved, of whom He is Head, and who submits to Him. Organizations which stand in opposition to clear Scripture or preach another gospel are not churches (Galatians 1:6-9 says they are “accursed” or “damned”), and verbal opposition to this misnomer would go a long way in helping to clarify that Mormons are not Christians, that Roman Catholic soteriology is not biblical, that Lakewood teaches false doctrine, and so on.

More God-exalting: Mormons, Catholicism, apostate church, organization, religion

What are some other “Christianese” words and phrases that need some cleaning up, and what are some other more precise and God-exalting terms we could use instead?

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ January 14, 2019

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

It’s a few years old, but this excellent episode of the Issues, Etc. radio show: This Week in Pop-American Christianity: Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God recently came across my news feed. Many false teachers (in this case, Priscilla Shirer) twist or misunderstand John 10 to mean that, if you’re a Christian, God will speak to you audibly. That’s not what it means, as anyone who takes the time to read the passage in context can attest. Pastor and podcaster Chris Rosebrough explains simply, carefully, and biblically, why this teaching is wrong and what John 10 actually means.

 

“I get dozens of emails each month from parents whose teens are leaving the church or being swept away by a false version of Jesus and the gospel…In this list I’ve compiled ten critical topics for the modern teen.” Great for youth directors and parents of teens, but the adults in your church probably need to read this too. Check out Ten Theological Topics for Parents of Modern Teens by our friend Costi Hinn on his blog, For the Gospel.

 

Pornography is usually addressed as a “men’s problem”, but, increasingly, women are succumbing to this insidious temptation. Stephanie offers pastors three suggestions (these would be helpful for anyone) for counseling and discipling women who participate in the sin of pornography in her 9Marks article Helping Women Who Struggle with Pornography.

 

Thoroughly and knowledgeably written by Denny Burk (head of CBMW), What Does It Mean That Women Should “Remain Quiet” in Church? (1 Timothy 2) from Crossway is one of the best commentaries I’ve ever read on 1 Timothy 2:11-14. I’ve added it as a resource to my own article on that passage: Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit.

 

Fasting mirrors the hunger we should have for Christ. Do Christians Fast Because Food and Drink Are Bad? from Crossway explains more.

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

 

Some days you wake up and you just don’t know what to write about, and it’s a beautiful fall day – which is rare as hens’ teeth in south Louisiana – and you just don’t feel like writing, anyway. Writer’s block: it’s the bane of a blogger’s existence.

I have a Google Docs file I’ve entitled “Scratch Pad”. Whenever I get a good idea for an article, I jot down the gist of it there. Then, when it’s one of those “meh” weeks when I’m not overwhelmingly passionate about anything in particular, I can thumb through those ideas for some inspiration.

It’s one of those “meh” weeks.

I started sifting through my scratch pad, and I noticed some of those article starters had been on the list for a while, mostly because they could really be addressed in a paragraph or two and didn’t need to be stretched out into a whole article.

(Are you bored, yet? I feel like you’re bored. I’m already bored and I’m the one writing this thing.)

So today is going to be a “clean out the fridge” day with some short random ramblings and ruminations on a variety of topics, with maybe a helpful resource thrown in here and there if I think about it. I’m just going to set it all out there on the counter and, hopefully, you’ll see something that looks appetizing.

This may or may not become a regular (monthly or every other month or whenever) feature. I don’t know. It depends on how often I wake up feeling “meh” and whether or not y’all like it, so shoot me some feedback on this one, and we’ll go from there.

Helloooooooo? Is anybody still with me?

I see that hand!

Here we go…

The apostle Paula

There’s this…lady…on Twitter. She’s very sincere and passionate about her theology – most of which seems to be pretty doctrinally sound. I have no doubt that she has the best of intentions with her tweets, and that she’s a sister in Christ, but…well, let’s just say she has some…um…issues…which, at this point, she’s not willing to be discipled out of. She’s kind of a Servus Christi meets Steven Anderson meets Westboro (so EVERYTHING SHE TWEETS IS IN ALL CAPS AND VERY EXTREME AND INTENSE) but with fairly decent theology.

A while back, she asked me something along the lines of (I forgot to bookmark her question to me) what I thought of the way she presented the gospel to the lost (which included a lot of in depth Reformed theological concepts). This was my answer to her, in case it might be helpful to you…

OK, everything you’ve said is technically biblically correct and that’s really good! But it’s not just about having the facts right. If you want to be an effective witness you have to have the facts right AND the right approach. And I know you want to be effective- also good!

If I could just offer you a few things to think about:

–Reformed theology is great. I believe it. I think everybody should believe it. But lost people aren’t going to get it (1 Corinthians 2:14). They aren’t going to understand terms like sheep, elect, justification, etc., and that’s OK. They can learn that after they’re saved. I would suggest finding a way to simplify – not water down – just explain things in a simpler way that even a child could understand: “God is perfect and holy. You’re not because you’ve sinned by lying, coveting, etc. The punishment for sin is an eternity in Hell. Jesus paid the penalty for your sin by His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection so you don’t have to spend eternity in Hell. If you turn sorrowfully from your sin and trust in His finished work on the cross, He will save and forgive you.” Something like that.

–It could just be the way you’re coming across on Twitter, and maybe you don’t sound like this in real life, but you’re coming across as judgmental and condemning rather than, “I love you and I can’t bear the thought of you continuing in this life or in eternity without Jesus.” Most people today are really looking for somebody to love them. It’s like the old saying goes: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

–I think it would be better to leave off the persecution part [she had included something in the gospel presentation about how Christians should expect to be harshly persecuted], NOT because it isn’t true, but because repentance and trusting Christ is overwhelming enough for the moment. Persecution is not something we hide and we definitely don’t go the other way and tell people everything will be awesome if they get saved, but you don’t want to put a fire hose up to the mouth of a baby who can barely handle a bottle, either.

She didn’t agree with me, said I was peddling a seeker-driven, watered down gospel that would send people to Hell, and decided she needed to harass me on a regular basis, so, unfortunately, I had to part ways with her. Eh, what can you do? 🤷

A book report

My reading habits have been terrible over the past couple of years. I blame social media and TV. (Embarrassingly, that’s one of the main reasons that, with extremely rare exception, I don’t write solicited book reviews.)

But I had been wanting to get my hands on Costi Hinn’s and Anthony Wood’s book, Defining Deception, ever since it first came out. I finally got around to ordering it, I just finished reading it, and now I want to commend it to you.

It’s good. Get it. Read it.

If your church uses Bethel or Jesus Culture music, give a copy to your pastor and minister of music. (Actually, get all of your pastors copies anyway. It’s Pastor Appreciation Month, and I don’t know a pastor who doesn’t love a good book.)

First of all, it’s short. I mean, if it were any shorter, it would be a booklet, not a book. So even if you’re a reading schlub like me, you could finish it in under a week. Some of you book nerds could sit down and finish it in a couple of hours.

It’s basically a primer on the New Apostolic Reformation, using Bethel as the iconic NAR exemplar (which it is). You get a history of the NAR including key figures in its founding and growth, an explanation of the theological problems and heresies within the movement, a brief course in basic pneumatology, several appendices which answer more specific questions readers might have, and more. And it’s all helpfully written at a level any Joe or Jane in the pew without a seminary degree can understand.

This NAR garbage is making its way into average churches like yours. Read up and be prepared.

Hearing voices

Remember earlier this year when Vice President Pence had made some sort of comment about God speaking to him and The View’s maven of mockery, Joy Behar, chortled:

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing for Jesus to talk to you. That’s mental illness…”

(I told you some of this stuff had been sitting in the hopper for a while.)

It pains me to have to say this because I despise everything Joy stands for, as well as her smug, derisive, self-righteous, condescending, supercilious, insulting attitude toward anything conservative or Christian, but unless Brother Mike was talking about God speaking to Him through Scripture…

…she was technically right.

Ouch. That hurt more than I thought it would.

Now, hang on before you start hurling those stones at me. I’m not saying that otherwise sane people who think they’re hearing God speak to them are mentally ill. They’re theologically wrong, but they’re not insane.

Here’s where she’s technically correct. In the era in which Joy came of age – before everybody and their dog started receiving extra-biblical revelation – if you were hearing voices in your head that nobody else could hear, whether you said it was God, or the devil, or Elvis talking to you, you were carted off to to a nice little institution and sedated. Heavily.

I happen to know this because when I was working on my bachelor’s degree in psychology (toward the end of that era), I did a lot of course work in abnormal psych (no idea where I was going with that, I just found it gruesomely interesting) and hearing non-existent voices telling you what to do was one of the criteria that pointed toward a formal diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis.

I don’t know if Joy or anybody else mentioned that, but that was my first impression of her comment about mental illness. I’ve been saying the same thing ever since I was in college- if Christians keep claiming they’re hearing God speak audibly to them, the world is going to start thinking they’re crazy. Because when it comes down to the price of eggs, there’s no outwardly demonstrable difference between observing a sane person hearing God tell her what to do and observing a schizophrenic hearing God tell her what to do. In the world’s eyes- why are we calling the first person a Christian and the second person insane?

Just one more reason to stick to sola Scriptura and the sufficiency of Scripture.

Is there an echo in here?

Sometimes I think social media has warped people’s brains.

Let me ask you something: If a pugnacious stranger knocked on your front door and started yelling at you, insulting you, and spewing all kinds of unbiblical garbage, would you welcome him into your living room with a humble smile on your face and put up with being treated that way on the off chance that you might learn something from his perspective on the issue, or to prove to others how open-minded you are?

Yeah, I wouldn’t either. In fact, I’d lock the door and probably call the police.

And yet those very people (and various SuperChristians who are apparently way more spiritually mature than I am, at least in their own opinion) demand that that kind of behavior be graciously tolerated and accepted on Twitter and Facebook, sneeringly accusing those of us who either refuse to engage with them, or block them, of living in a little “Christian bubble” or “holy huddle” or “echo chamber”.

Look, if you’re on social media for the purpose of verbally abusing people who think differently from you or to argue with strangers, I guess that’s your business (although if you claim to be a Christian you need to stop doing those things and repent), but that’s not why I’m on social media.

I’m on social media to keep up with far away friends and family, to promote my ministry, to help people I can help (who want to be helped), and to network and fellowship with like-minded Believers.

I’ve had lots of wonderful conversations with kind and polite people – Believers and unbelievers – who see things differently than I do, and I’m all for that.

But I’m not going to engage with rude, abusive people who are out looking for a fight. I’m just not. That would ruin the enjoyment I get out of social media. And if you want to call that “living in an echo chamber”, go right ahead. That doesn’t shame me in the least. I have nothing to prove about my level of open-mindedness and there’s nothing in Scripture that says I have to engage with people like that or subject myself to their abuse in order for God to consider me loving or tolerant or open-minded. The End.

A plea to the pastors

One of my recent Twitter threads:

Pastors- The women of your church need to be taught how to properly handle/study the Bible itself. Not Bible study books/DVDs – the Bible.

Many of them are so biblically ignorant I can’t explain to them why their favorite teacher is a false teacher because they have no frame of reference for comprehending such a thing and therefore just assume I’m (or anyone else who warns them is) being mean and hateful. They believe anything the false teacher says, not because she’s biblical, but because they like her and she makes them feel good.

For. the. love. please stop depending on canned studies (even the few doctrinally sound ones out there) in your women’s Bible study/Sunday school classes and get someone to teach who actually knows how to teach God’s Word and can teach them how to study God’s Word for themselves at home.

They are falling for false doctrine either because no one has properly taught them the gospel and they’re false converts or because they don’t know enough of the Bible to know that what they’re hearing conflicts with God’s Word. I can’t even simply tell women to compare what they’re hearing to Scripture because they have no idea what that means, why they should do it, or how to do it.

Don’t just assume they know the gospel or know their Bibles or are getting what you’re preaching. Some of them are not. A lady I know recently told me how excited she was about the new Joyce Meyer book she had just ordered. This was after three years of her faithfully sitting under doctrinally sound preaching. You’ve got to be intentional and proactive and make sure they are being properly trained in God’s Word.

I know I’m preaching to the choir with most of the pastors who follow me and are already doing a great job of training the women in your church. But if you could just double check to make sure. Please. We’re losing a generation of women to “feel-ology” and it breaks my heart.

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

Bible Studies