Podcast Appearances

Throwback Thursday ~ Theology Gals Podcast Guest Appearance: Christian Discernment

Originally published December 15, 2017

Last week, it was my joy to sit down and chat for a while with Coleen Sharp, host of one of my favorite podcasts, Theology Gals. Listen in as we discuss discernment, what it is, how to exercise it biblically, and what to do if you’re seeing false teaching infiltrating your women’s ministry or church.

Episode 44: Christian Discernment with Michelle Lesley

 

Theology Gals has a wonderful Facebook discussion group you can join. Be sure to follow their Facebook and Twitter pages, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Theology Gals podcast!


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Prayer quilts, Discouraged husband, Jesus Calling at the CPC…)

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


Wondering if you’ve ever commented on “Prayer Quilt Ministries” that some churches have. I was visiting a church recently that had an announcement in the bulletin for those interested to visit the lobby and “tie a knot in a prayer quilt”. On the church’s website the prayer quilt page says, “Gather to help press, pin, cut, sew or design prayer quilts. These are tied with prayer when given away to someone suffering from lengthy or devastating illness.” It’s probably a good work to make a quilt for someone who needs it, but what about the “prayer & tying of knots” issue?

Great question! I think it probably depends on the church’s theology. If it’s a New Apostolic Reformation type of church that believes that touching these quilts and praying while tying the knots in them will heal the recipients or somehow transport some sort of spiritual mojo to them in the warp and woof of the fabric, then that’s false doctrine and it needs to be done away with. That would be kind of like those magic “prayer cloths” that televangelists used to send out if you would only send them a “seed offering”.

However, if the church is doctrinally sound (which your e-mail indicated is the case), it’s very unlikely that it’s anything sinister like that. It sounds to me like the quilts themselves are just a kind ministry to hurting people. It reminds me of the story of Dorcas. “All the widows stood beside [Peter] weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.”

The purpose of the knots is probably two-fold. First, it encourages church members to pray for the recipients of the quilts, and gives them a touchstone of having done so. Second, the recipient is probably told that every knot on the quilt was tied by someone who prayed for her. I think the knots are probably sort of like the stones we sometimes see Israel setting up in the Old Testament, or even baptism – a physical reminder of a spiritual moment. It’s an encouragement both to those who tie them and the recipients.

And if that’s as far as it goes, I don’t think that’s unbiblical. In fact, I think it is a great ministry for women to get involved in, it reaches out to people with the love of Christ, and if a Bible or gospel tract is included (I hope!), it’s a form of evangelism. All good and biblical things.


I am married and have a struggle with my wife about our roles. It’s been hard dealing with this. I get more respect from my Starbucks barista than I do at home.

The whole girl power thing is really not bad if it doesn’t come at the expense of men. But it’s gone too far, it’s kinda like idol worship now.

I’m going to be honest I know a lot of men that are tapping out. Young men don’t want to get married, older men can’t afford their wives’ lifestyles. Divorced men are ruined and spiraling down out here. It’s bad… Real bad.

You may never read this, but I hope you keep up the good fight. Not many people, much less women even look at us men as anything more than walking ATM’s and fix it guys. Thank you for making a bold move in the opposite direction. God be with you and keep you.

Every once in a while I get a heartbreaking e-mail like this from a husband. Sadly, there’s usually nothing I can do for them. Their wives are not the type who would care what I had to say even if I could talk to them.

But ladies, I’d like to ask you to do something for our friend here. Would you take just a moment and pray for him, his marriage, and his wife? And, if you wouldn’t mind, would you leave a comment under this article letting him know you’ve prayed for him and offering any words of encouragement you’d like? Thank you.


I volunteer at a Crisis Pregnancy Center that regularly gives away not only Bibles (good) but also Jesus Calling (bad!). I have been researching and note-taking a compilation of what you point out so that I can gently and lovingly bring this to the attention of the director of the center. I am not very confident however that she and others in authority will see the problem. It might be worth noting that my job at the center is strictly data input. I do not see any patients so therefore I myself do not ever have an occasion give a patient a Jesus Calling devotion. But should I not volunteer here if others continue to do so?

Way to be thinking theologically! This is the kind of thing we will all have to be thinking through more and more as the days grow darker, and it’s important that we think them through biblically.

Wow, it hurts my heart to hear that a CPC is doing this. These women are already in a difficult situation and instead of helping them with the truth of Scripture this CPC (and probably others out there) is feeding them false doctrine when they’re at their most vulnerable. 

Approaching the director kindly is the best first step, remembering that the vast majority of Christians simply don’t know what false doctrine is or the extent to which it has infected Christian materials. For most people, it never occurs to them that something sold at a Christian store might not be biblical. It’s my prayer that the director will listen and be convicted to stop using these materials in favor of doctrinally sound ones. When you go in to talk to her, you might want to have a couple of suggestions in mind for alternative materials. This tract from Living Waters might be a fit. Wretched has a great little gospel booklet called Don’t Stub Your Toe. Or you might contact Pre-Born! or another pro-life ministry you trust and ask for ideas.

But if the director brushes off your concerns, you’ll need to make a decision about whether or not to continue to work there. If you are married, the first thing you need to do is discuss this with your husband and find out what he thinks. If he tells you what he’d like you to do, you’ll need to abide by that. But even if he leaves the decision up to you, he will probably have some helpful wisdom and insight. You might also wish to bounce this off your pastor, an elder, or a godly friend.

Since you’re not the one purchasing the books or handing them out, I believe you could still work there – if your conscience allows. I would recommend that you pray about it and ask God to give you the wisdom to make a godly decision.


I need some direction. I’ve been teaching/sharing God’s Word at a nursing home for over two years on Sunday mornings. We have mostly women, but there are two men who join us. I was asked by the nursing home to lead our little church because they haven’t been able to find any men willing to do it. That’s my dilemma, I know Paul said he wouldn’t allow a woman to teach men, I don’t know how to handle this. I myself am not part of any other church, so I don’t have a pastor to help. I’ve reached out to some churches, but no one is getting back to me. Since we can’t find a man willing to lead, am I okay to keep doing what I’m doing? 

That is quite the dilemma! Let me see if I can help.

You started your e-mail by saying, “I need some direction,” so I hope you’ll be open to some direction that’s in a bit of a different direction than the one you’re asking about.

It’s wonderful that you’re wanting to help out at the nursing home and teach God’s Word. We need more women in mercy ministries like this, and I’m sure you’re a joy and a blessing to the ladies. But I’m afraid there’s a bigger issue you need to deal with than whether or not to be teaching at the nursing home.

You need to find a doctrinally sound church, become a member of it, and attend and serve it faithfully. Church membership, fellowship, and service are not optional for Christians (Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians).

The Bible knows nothing of unchurched Christians, and serving at the nursing home is not a reason not to be joined to a local church. You could always serve at the nursing home on Sunday afternoons after worshiping at your own church, or serve on another day. If you’re asking around at churches for someone to volunteer on Sunday mornings, this is why you’re not getting much of a response – you’re contacting churches. Pastors and their church members are supposed to be in church on Sunday mornings, not somewhere else.

I know you might be thinking that your group of ladies at the nursing home is your church because you called it “our little church”. It might be an awesome group of ladies with super close fellowship, but what you have there is a women’s Bible study class, not a church. It doesn’t have a pastor, elders, or deacons. It doesn’t have a membership, so there’s no mechanism for church discipline. Nobody is giving offerings or serving the Body. You’re not performing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (I hope). This is not a church.

Have you ever been on an airplane and noticed that when the flight attendant gives the safety instructions, she always tells you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others with theirs? It’s good advice in this situation too. Right now, you’re disobeying Scripture by not being joined to a local church, so you’re setting a sinful example for your ladies while simultaneously teaching them that they need to obey God’s Word. Put your mask on first. Repent and join a local church. You also need to be sitting under good preaching and teaching at your own church so you’ll have something to give these ladies and to keep your own theology on track so you can make sure what you’re teaching them doesn’t veer off into false doctrine. Put your mask on first. You can’t help other people breathe if you’re passing out from lack of oxygen. Finally, joining a local church will fix the problem you mentioned of, “I don’t have a pastor to help.” If you’ll put your mask on first by finding a good church to join, you will have a pastor, elders, deacons, and lots of other men to help.

When we do things God’s way, in God’s order, most of the secondary things, like your dilemma about the men at the nursing home, tend to fall into place. Tell you what. You find a good church to join – maybe one of the ones you contacted for help (check out the “Searching for a new church?” tab at the top of this page if you need it) – get plugged in, and ask your pastor for some help with this. If he can’t or won’t help you, write me back, and we’ll go from there, OK? I’ll bet you won’t need to.


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.

Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: As a newly doctrinally sound Christian, should I stop journaling?

 

I just read your January 9th blog on Carey’s story. That is me regarding the journaling. I have journaled for 10 years and have saved them all. Now I don’t know if I should stop altogether. I already threw out all my Sarah Young books, Beth Moore, Lysa, etc. It’s like I’m starting over after 32 years as a Christian. I just found you this week through Justin Peters and I’m so grateful. So should I stop journaling too? I did automatic writing- ugg!

Don’t we serve a wonderful God? His mercies are not only new every morning, they are new even after 32 years! I’m so thrilled for you that God has opened your eyes and given you a fresh start. (P.S. Stick with Justin’s stuff. He is awesome.)

The word “journaling” gets tossed around a lot these days. Coloring in your Bible has come to be known as “Bible art journaling”. Then there’s the type of mystical or contemplative “journaling” you’ve touched on which can include automatic writing (one of the reasons Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling is false doctrine and should be avoided like the Plague).

But there is a type of journaling you can do in conjunction with your personal Bible study and prayer time which is perfectly biblical. If it would help you to differentiate this type of biblical journaling from the mystical journaling you’ve done in the past, you might want to call it “taking notes” or “written Bible study” or something like that, instead. But if you need to put some time and space between the unbiblical type of journaling you used to do and beginning to journal again in a biblical way, it’s perfectly OK to take as long of a break from journaling as you need.

When it comes to journaling in a biblical way, it might help to look at studying the Bible through the lens of studying for a college class.

A lot of students go into college thinking that all they need to do is show up for class, write down whatever the teacher says will be on the test, read the chapter, and they’ll learn what they need to learn. But if you go through freshman orientation or take a study skills class, one of the learning strategies you’ll be taught is how to study your textbook.

First of all, you read the material in an organized way. Most people going to college don’t have to be told this, but when you sit down to study, say, a history book, you start at the beginning of the book and you work your way through to the end. You don’t start by reading two paragraphs out of the middle of chapter 7, then move on to the last three sentences of chapter 49, then the first half of chapter 1.

Do you see where I’m going with this? That’s how people “study” the Bible sometimes, and it’s just as crazy to study the Bible that way as it would be to study a history book, or math book, or science book that way.

So you’re reading along in an organized way. Take notes. Write down any questions you might have about the text, words you need to look up, etc. Write down what you learn about God from that text, or how the characters in that text set an example for you of something you should or shouldn’t do. Write down any commands from the text that you need to obey. Write down how the passage points to Christ. Write down anything the text reminds you to pray about. Write down anything God is convicting you about as you read the text. Write down any practical applications the text has for situations in your life. Write down a careful summary of the text. Write down any other Scriptures the text you’re reading reminds you of.

You might want to highlight or underline things in your Bible that you want to remember.

As you’re studying your Bible you’ll probably notice some footnotes. Take a look at those footnotes and see if there are any cross-references listed. A cross reference is a Scripture that’s related to the Scripture you’re reading that might help explain it a little bit better. So look up those cross-references and maybe make some notes on them.

This kind of “journaling” can be very helpful as you study your Bible. You might also want to jot down anything you’re praying about and, later, how God answers. You could include any notes you take on your pastor’s sermons or points you want to remember from the Sunday School lesson. Keeping these journals and looking back over them from time to time is an excellent way to see how God is growing you in the knowledge of His Word, your trust in Him, and your obedience.

If writing is the way you best process your thoughts and the information you’re learning, then by all means, continue journaling! Just make sure you’re doing it in a biblical way.


Additional Resources:

10 Simple Steps to Plain Vanilla Bible Study

Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Bible Study Articles and Resources

Bible Studies


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.

Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

Originally published February 26, 2016.

disney dalai divangelista1Social media and the internet are a gold mine for inspirational quotes, and today’s most popular divangelistas post a lot of them. But, does inspirational always equal biblical? Shouldn’t you be able to tell the difference between a line from a Disney movie, a platitude from the Dalai Lama, and biblical truth from a Christian leader? In homage to Tim Challies’ Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie? I give you Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?. Try to guess who said it, then click on the link below the quote to see if you were right.

1. All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

2. Compassion naturally creates a positive atmosphere, and as a result you feel peaceful and content.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

3. Venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

4. Patience to wait does not come from suffering long for what we lack but from sitting long in what we have.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

5. Today is a new day, and every day you can be one step closer to conquering your fears!

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

6. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

7. In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

8. In every situation, in every interaction, in every day, be a noticer of the good.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

9.  All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

10. When we stop fearing failure, we start being artists.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

11. Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

12. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

13. You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

14. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?

15. It is useless to compare yourself to someone else. That person has a completely different path to follow.

Disney, Dalai, or Divangelista?


What was your score?
0-3:
You spend waaaay too much time reading your Bible and listening to sermon podcasts to keep up with the latest fluff from divangelistas or to get out and see a movie. The Dalai Lama? Is that the Thursday special at that Asian restaurant down the street?

4-10:
Cut back on the “inspirational” Pinterest boards and trade out your kids’ DVD of Frozen for an Awana CD. Read some books by the old dead guys like Spurgeon or Ryle, and learn how different (and how much better) Christian doctrine is from Buddhism.

11-15:
Would you consider yourself a good person?
(I kid! I kid! You probably just have a photographic memory!)

Podcast Appearances

Theology Gals Podcast Guest Appearance: Christian Discernment

Last week, it was my joy to sit down and chat for a while with Coleen Sharp, host of one of my favorite podcasts, Theology Gals. Listen in as we discuss discernment, what it is, how to exercise it biblically, and what to do if you’re seeing false teaching infiltrating your women’s ministry or church.

Episode 44: Christian Discernment with Michelle Lesley

 

Theology Gals has a wonderful Facebook discussion group you can join. Be sure to follow their Facebook and Twitter pages, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Theology Gals podcast!


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!