Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (A rabbi, Rosaria, and a boy mom walk into a blog…)

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!


Do you have any recommendations for mothers raising Godly men? I became a believer after I was married and my husband is not a believer yet.

As a mom to five boys myself, the best advice I can offer you is this: If you want to raise godly men, be a godly woman. Model godliness for your boys. Study your Bible, and teach them to study their Bibles. Pray, and teach them to pray. Be faithful to your church, find a way to serve there, and teach them to do the same. Obey God’s Word, and teach them to be obedient. When you sin, use it as an opportunity to teach them about repentance and forgiveness. Ask God for wisdom, strength, guidance, and patience. Pray for your boys’ salvation. Submit to your husband. Pray for him and for his salvation.

Some other resources you may find helpful:

Your pastor – Set up an appointment with your pastor to get some counsel. This is part of his job in shepherding you. It would also be very helpful to find an older, doctrinally sound sister in Christ at your church (preferably one who has raised boys) and ask her to mentor/disciple you.

Imperishable Beauty: A Study of Biblical Womanhood – If you’d like to learn more about being a godly woman, join our current Bible study here on the blog.

Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson – Although I wouldn’t endorse everything from Dobson, I found this book to be helpful years ago when my sons were young. (I have an older edition of the book, so I can’t vouch for any revisions in this newer edition.)

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Parenting Articles


Are you preaching to men here? Are you instructing them?

This has been my frustration with this whole issue. I read the Bible a lot and can see so very much deception here in the West but feel like I am not allowed to say anything to the males who are deceived. And there are many, many false teachers who are male.

I’m not preaching to men or instructing them in that article. As I stated in the conclusion:

…in the end, this article is not meant to be a castigation of pastors or other Christian men, but an impassioned plea from a church lady who wants to see her sisters make it out alive. Help us. Please.

But even if that article had been instructive to men, that’s not a violation of Scripture. What the Bible prohibits is women preaching to men, instructing men in the Bible, and holding authority over men in the gathered body of Believers – the church setting. A blog is not the church. I think these articles may help as you study through this issue:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit
Rock Your Role FAQs
Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?
The Mailbag: Is it OK for Christian men to read Christian women’s blogs?

The Bible also does not prohibit you from having a conversation with a male friend or relative to scripturally discourage him from following a false teacher or being a false teacher. (Obviously, you should use biblical wisdom about appearances and temptation when meeting with someone of the opposite sex, though.) That’s essentially what Priscilla and Aquila did when they corrected Apollos – they took him aside privately and explained the gospel more accurately to him.

I would just encourage you to think about your relationship with the man you’re considering talking to. Are you the best person for the job? Not because you’re a woman, but perhaps there’s someone he’s closer to or looks up to as a mentor whose correction might make more of an impact. What about you and your husband (if you’re married and he’s biblically able) approaching this man together as Priscilla and Aquila did? Just some things to consider.


Could you recommend your most trusted watchdog or heresy sites? I’m trying to find info on [a certain rabbi] as my mom has asked me to watch his teachings.

Well…if he’s a rabbi, he is – by definition – not a Christian, so you should not believe anything he says about God, Jesus, the Bible, church, theology, etc. If any Christian discernment sites have anything on him it will probably be Berean Research, Pirate Christian’s Blogs, or Fighting for the Faith. These are the sites I most often use for researching false teachers. I’ve listed a few other helpful discernment sites here (see #6).


In a recent article you said, “I’ve often cited the false teaching that prayer is a ‘two-way conversation’ (you talk to God and then He talks back to you).”

Are you saying that God never “talks” to us in reply to our prayers/talking to Him? Or are you saying that the idea of God talking to us as we talk to each other is wrong? (Thanks so much, in advance, for taking time to answer. I really think assuming things makes us vulnerable to misunderstanding…. May God bless you!)

May God bless you too, and thanks for your question.

The answer to both of your questions is “yes”. God does not “talk” to us, and the idea that He talks to us is biblically incorrect. God has already spoken to us, and even went so far as to have His words written down for us – it’s called the Bible. I’ve explained more about this in my article Basic Training: The Bible is Sufficient.


“You made a bunch of allegations in this article but didn’t back them up with any evidence.”

“You mentioned [a particular word, phrase, or concept] in your article. I don’t understand what that is. Can you please explain?”

Hyperlinks, y’all. They’re called hyperlinks. And you need to click on them to find the information you’re looking for.

If you’re reading one of my articles and you see a word in red that’s underlined when you hover over it (other sites might use other colors), clicking on it will take you to another article or resource that will provide you with more information. It’s a little bit like a footnote in a book.

If I stopped to explain every concept I thought people might not understand, gave the full details of every incident I allude to, or wrote out every Scripture that supports the point I’m making, my articles would be tediously long (even more so than usual!). Hyperlinks are a convenient way to provide you with the details, information, or Scriptures you need without adding unbearable length to the article.

All you have to do is click on them.


Our church recently did a book study on “The Gospel Comes with a House Key” by Rosaria Butterfield. The book’s theme is “radical hospitality”. She and her husband invite non-believing people into their home for meals etc. They place no boundaries on this, many are strangers to them.

Concerns my husband and I had were the lack of safety for their family, and the spiritual danger of being yoked together with unbelievers. When we expressed our concerns, no one else spoke up in agreement with us. We have no problem inviting non-believers into our home, we just want to have some idea of who they are. What is your opinion of this book?

I haven’t read the book, but I have listened to two or three interviews with Rosaria in which she talked about the book and the way she and her husband practice hospitality, so I’ve heard her explain how they open their home to those in their neighborhood whom they may not necessarily know. (For those who aren’t familiar with Rosaria – I do not follow her closely, but from what I know of her, and the people who endorse her, she is doctrinally sound.)

The Butterfields’ Method The Bible tells us to practice hospitality, but it doesn’t specify precisely how we are to do that. That’s because the Bible has to be applicable to all people across all cultures, contexts, and time. Hospitality will look different even between two families in the same church who are next-door neighbors.

You and your husband are not the Butterfields. You do not live in their town or neighborhood. Your family is different from theirs. And all of that is perfectly fine. God does not call or expect Christians to be carbon copies of each others. That means the way you practice hospitality may not look exactly like the way the Butterfields practice hospitality. And that’s perfectly fine, and biblical, too.

I don’t think the purpose of Rosaria’s book was to say, “This is the definition of hospitality and this is how every Christian has to practice it.”. I think the purpose was to explore the topic of hospitality and stress its importance. Her description of the specific way her family practices hospitality serves as an example of one way to practice it if that would be a fit for your family.

The Butterfields’ Safety I can understand why, in this day and age, you would be concerned about their safety and the security of their home. They have chosen to accept this risk and practice hospitality this way.

There are two “no-no’s” that go along with your concern and their decision. Your concern does not mean they have to change their decision (not saying you think that, but a surprising number of Christians do), and their decision does not get to dictate the way your family practices hospitality. That we practice hospitality is a biblical command. The way we practice hospitality is a matter of Christian liberty and wisdom for each individual family.

Yoking with Unbelievers The mere act of inviting unbelievers to your home for a meal or social event is not a violation of Scripture, especially when the end game is to share the gospel with them. This is the kind of hospitality Jesus practiced with unbelievers, except He didn’t have a home to invite them to. He went to their homes.

The only danger of yoking with unbelievers that could come with practicing this kind of hospitality is getting too intimate with unbelieving friends you’ve made and allowing them to pull you away from Christ and into disobedience. For Christians who are mature enough to stand firm in the faith and keep a wise amount of distance with unbelieving friends, the Butterfields’ method of hospitality should not present a problem in this respect. If your family is more spiritually vulnerable, it would probably be wise to consider other ways of practicing hospitality.

 

It’s wonderful that you’re considering ways to practice hospitality. I would suggest you and your husband pray for wisdom and guidance. Brainstorm some ways you could tweak what the Butterfields do so it’s a fit for your family, or come up with your own unique way of practicing hospitality.


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.

Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 7

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Colossians 4:7-18

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. What is the theme or purpose of this passage? With what sort of tone (rebuking, emphatic, compassionate, etc.) does Paul close out this epistle? Thinking back over the previous lessons, give a 3-5 sentence synopsis of Colossians in your own words.

2. List the people Paul mentions by name in this passage, noting the words of praise he has for each. Paul did not take those who served with him in ministry for granted. Are you thankful for those who serve in the various ministries of your church? What are some ways you can show appreciation to others who serve in ministry alongside you (and over you) at your church?

3. What else do we know about Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Archippus? How can cross-referencing give us a fuller picture and better understanding of a passage we’re studying?

4. Examine and describe the ministry roles each person in this passage fulfilled in the Body of Christ in light of 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. How does Colossians 4:7-18 demonstrate the need for various people to carry out various “services and activities”? How does this passage show value for a variety of servanthood roles and ministries, even those we might consider small or unimportant? Think about your church and Christianity at large. Do we place a greater value on those who serve in “spotlight” (“important”) roles compared to those who serve in obscure (“unimportant”) roles? How does 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 speak to this?

5. Note the words “encourage your hearts” (8), “they have been a comfort to me” (11), “struggling on your behalf in his prayers” (12), and “the church in her house” (15). How were encouragement, comfort, prayer, and hospitality crucial to the early church? Are they just as crucial to the church today? Is your church particularly strong or weak in any of these areas? How could your church improve in these areas?

Homework:

How can you serve your church in the areas of encouragement, comfort, prayer, and hospitality? Think of one specific thing you can do for your church or a particular person in your church in each of these four areas, and do them over the next week. For example:

Monday: Write an e-mail encouraging my pastor.
Tuesday: Visit one of my church’s members who is hospitalized or a shut-in.
Wednesday: Pray through my church’s prayer list.
Thursday: Invite the lady who visited my church on Sunday for coffee.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ 3 John

3 john 11

3 John

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a mannerworthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Who wrote 3 John? To whom was 3 John written? (1) What was the purpose of this epistle?

2. How many times is the word “truth” used in this passage? What truth is John talking about? Who are John’s “children” (4) who are walking in the truth? What do the terms “my children” (4) and “beloved” (2,5,11) indicate about John’s relationship with Gaius and the church?

3. What is the connection between the truth of the gospel John emphasizes and…
…Gaius? (1-4)
…the visiting brothers? (8) (5-8)
…Diotrephes? (10) (9-11)
…Demetrius? (12)

4. Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) leaders often like to quote verse 2 from the King James Version as evidence that God wants all Christians to be “prosperous” (wealthy and successful). Examine the KJV alongside these other reliable translations. Is that what this verse is saying? Even if John did mean wealth and success, to whom was this passage written? (1) In context, is this a promise to all Christians in general, or a simple salutation to a particular person?

5. What can we learn about Christian hospitality and caring for those who make their living proclaiming the gospel from verses 5-10? Compare verse 8 with 1 Corinthians 9:14. How do verse 8 and 2 John 10-11 relate to one another? Can you think of a situation in which you might be able to extend hospitality to someone in Christian ministry?