Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

What a summer! From a lovely trip to visit with my family to the Open Letter to Beth Moore (by the way, ladies, you can still sign it if you haven’t already) to podcast interviews to a hurricane (everything’s fine, thanks – praise God!) to both of my young adult children’s cars dying in the same week and my husband and me playing chauffeur for them (please pray that God will provide the vehicles they need), my summer has been a non-stop whirlwind. I can’t believe next week will already be August!

Let’s jump into some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources, shall we?

Light (Blog) Housekeeping

If you’re relatively new to the blog, you might not be aware of all the features and resources available to you here. Check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends.

But even if you’ve been around a while, I’ve updated a few things you might not have noticed:

I’ve changed the Popular False Teachers tab (at the top of this page) to Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends. That’s because I’ve added resources on the Enneagram and I’m planning to add info on more unbiblical trends in the future. I’ve also added information on MOPS to this tab in case I forgot to mention it.

I think The Servanthood Survey (published last week) is going to be a helpful resource for churches (and individuals), so I created a new tab to have that always at the ready.

If you’ve used my discernment article on Beth Moore lately, you may have noticed that it has a new look. I’ve changed the title and the introduction, fixed broken links and added a few new ones, and added some updated material, but it’s still the same article with the same link: Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore.

Recently, I was put in “Facebook timeout” (I couldn’t post to my Facebook page from certain devices) for sharing what the powers that be deemed to be “hate speech” – a meme that quoted 1 Timothy 2:12. If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably hearing more and more about things like this happening to Christians for posting biblical views (no matter how kindly worded).

As many are predicting, there will probably come a time when Christians who share biblical posts will be banned from Facebook. In case something like this happens to me, I’ve opened up a MeWe page. MeWe is a social media platform that’s extremely similar to Facebook, except they pride themselves on their customer service, their privacy policy, and their “no political agenda” policy (meaning they don’t censor every little thing like Facebook does). If you’re familiar with Facebook, you’ll find MeWe’s interface nearly identical, plus it has a few neat features Facebook doesn’t have.

If you’d like to connect on MeWe, set up an account, then, just search Michelle Lesley, or go directly to my page and click the “add contact” button. If you’d rather do it later, I’ve added a link to my MeWe page to the Contact and Social Media tab at the top of this page.

And finally, would you like to write up a testimony (anything from a paragraph to a full length article) for Testimony Tuesday or an article or book review for a guest post? If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (see the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page), look over the articles at these two links to get a feel for what I’m looking for and drop me an e-mail so we can chat about it.

Book Report

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t write solicited book reviews, but there are extremely rare circumstances in which I will break that rule. There are also occasions when I will pick up a book of my own volition and commend it to you if I end up liking it. Today, you’re getting one of each.

A few months ago, Costi Hinn reached out and asked if I’d read and write an endorsement for his new book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel. While his first book, Defining Deception, was an instructional introduction to the history and doctrine of the New Apostolic Reformation, I had been keeping up with Costi, and I knew that this second book was going to approach NAR/prosperity gospel false doctrine from the perspective of his personal testimony of growing up in (and being saved out of) Benny Hinn’s “ministry”. I had already heard Costi’s testimony several times and I knew my readers would find it encouraging and edifying. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel did not disappoint, and it is my joy to commend it to you:

A helpful primer on the prosperity gospel. The perfect blend of testimony, teaching, and tried-and-true tips for ministering to those caught in unbiblical teaching.

 

My two favorite genres of fiction are biblical historical fiction, and legal/political thrillers. Chris Skates writes both, so I’m looking forward to reading more of his books.

In order for me to enjoy a work of biblical historical fiction (a fictionalized account of a true Bible story), it has to be true to everything Scripture actually says happened (events, dialogue, chronology, etc.), and whatever the author “fills in the blanks” of the biblical account with has to be biblically and culturally plausible, and must not directly contradict clear Scripture.

Chris accomplished this beautifully in his first book, The Rain, his rendition of Noah and the ark. Chris paints a grim picture of a debauched society that refuses to repent. Noah’s wife and daughters-in-law receive names, and we get to imagine what they and Ham, Shem, and Japheth might have been like. It was interesting to ponder along with the story just how long, tedious, and treacherous the journey on the ark was. And let’s not forget the lack of light and air conditioning and…well…the lovely smells of all those animals!

The Rain is a fun, leisure time read. I think you’ll like it if you enjoy biblical historical fiction.

Stop Jumping the Gun 

Y’all know I’m all about discernment, right? I mean, I think my track record speaks for itself. But there’s an area of discernment we all need to get serious about right quick.

It’s that “right quick” part. We need to stop being reactionary and haphazardly tossing the “false teacher” label (or other spiritual aspersions) around any time somebody says something that causes us to raise an eyebrow, especially when that person has an impeccable record of sound doctrine, faithful preaching, and contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Since Tuesday’s release of the Founders Ministries cinedoc trailer By What Standard? God’s World…God’s Rules, I have been appalled at the rush to judgment regarding Tom Ascol and Albert Mohler. Neither of these brothers has committed any clear-cut sin, but I want to put the details of the accusations aside and focus on the general principle of jump-the-gun aspersion-casting against these two men and others like them.

Each of these gentlemen, as well as Founders Ministries itself, has a decades-long track record of being doctrinally sound and fighting the good fight for biblical truth – longer than some of you younger sisters have been alive. They, and other pastors, teachers, and folks in long-time doctrinally sound ministry, have earned the right to have brothers and sisters in Christ – especially mature and discerning brothers and sisters in Christ – give them the benefit of the doubt when no clear-cut sin has been committed.

Obviously, when we’re talking about high profile pastors and teachers we don’t know personally, this isn’t a local church issue, but I think we would do well to remember the principles behind 1 Timothy 5:17,19-20.

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching…Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

We rebuke those who persist in sin in the presence of all. We do not make off the cuff accusations, based on a single “iffy” incident or presumptions, against doctrinally sound elders who have proven themselves faithful through the years. And we also need to remember that in situations like these we don’t know the whole behind-the-scenes story. I think we could extend some grace, give them the honor and respect Scripture says they’re due, and reserve judgment until sin is committed or the incident is resolved.

Scripture calls us to be better than this to our elders. Let’s live up to that.

Is it really God’s judgment?

My daughter texted me this shortly after the recent earthquake in California. And when your heart of hearts asks you to write an article, you write an article! (Only I didn’t think it needed to be as long as a full article, so you’re getting it here instead, Sweetie.)

For those of us who don’t live in California, some of the news stories we hear about the sinful things going on there leave us slack-jawed. And for Christians, our frame of reference for gobsmacking sin is the Old Testament. God dealt with sin in some pretty intense ways in the OT, not the least of which, in one case, was causing the ground to split apart and swallow sinners alive. So I guess there is precedent for God using an earthquake to deal with sin. Is it possible the earthquake in California was God’s judgment upon their sin? Yes, it’s within the realm of possibility.

However, that kind of judgment is not normative, especially after the cross, and there are a lot of holes in that theory. If you’re tempted to use the line of reasoning that a natural disaster is, definitively, God’s judgment on California (or any other place) for their sin, could I just encourage you to think through the following points?

•In the past few months New York and Illinois have both passed hideous, from-the-bowels-of-hell laws protecting the sins of abortion and infanticide. Where are their earthquakes?

•Louisiana just passed one of the most abortion-restrictive laws in the nation. And then we had a hurricane. Was that storm a judgment on Louisiana?

•If “it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God…” (1 Peter 4:17), why wasn’t Redding, California – where Bethel “Church” is located – at the epicenter of the earthquake?

•Is it God’s judgment on sin if a tornado hits a doctrinally sound church in the Midwest?

•North Korea has been at the top of the list for years as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. Why don’t we ever hear about natural disasters there?

•There are scads of doctrinally sound churches (including John MacArthur’s church) and Christians in California. Wouldn’t God protect California on their account or at least get them out of California before He exercises judgment there? There’s biblical precedent for that, too.

I don’t think we can biblically say that a natural disaster is definitely God’s judgment on California’s, or any other state’s or nation’s sin. God will judge the world in righteousness when Christ returns. Until that time, what we can biblically say about natural disasters is that they are the result of the Fall. And that sometimes they’re the best thing in that could ever happen to someone. Because sometimes during a natural disaster, people hear the gospel or cry out to God and get saved.

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

My flesh is in a bad 👏mood 👏 today. (Do you like the claps? I like the claps. Some people don’t like the claps. What can ya do?) It’s one of those rainy days where it doesn’t just rain and get it over with and then the sun comes out. It stays grey all 👏day 👏long 👏 and rains just lightly and intermittently enough to make you crazy. That is, if the heat and the million per cent humidity hasn’t already put you over the edge. Good ol’ summertime in south Louisiana.

But God is good even on the yuckiest of days and Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources is a fun way to cheer up and focus on stuff that’s way more important than the weather. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

 

Listen Up, Feed Back

I dropped the word on Facebook and Twitter a couple of days ago that Amy Spreeman (yes, that Amy Spreeman from Berean Research, Fighting for the Faith, etc.) and I are looking into doing a podcast together. So I need some feedback from y’all on two questions:

1. If we did do a podcast, would you listen?

2. Can you help us think of a name for the podcast? (We will be talking about a variety of biblical topics.)

A while back, I had said a great name for a podcast like this would be Discerning Women, a play on the title of the 80’s sitcom Designing WomenBut the more I thought about it, the more I realized a significant portion of our potential listeners have probably never heard of that show (I’ve only seen a few episodes myself), so it wouldn’t work. So help us think of a good title and drop it into a comment here or on social media.

 

Bad Dad David?

I recently finished reading through the life of David during my quiet time. When we think of David, the first thing to jump to mind is probably “and Goliath” or “and Bathsheba” or maybe that he was a king or a psalmist. But have you ever thought of David and the first thing to come to mind was “lousy father”? I haven’t. And the Bible doesn’t explicitly tell us that he was a bad dad. And, let’s face it, even the most godly parents in the world can have a kid or two who turn out to be prodigals. But if you look at how some of David’s children turned out, you have to at least wonder about his parenting skills.

First you’ve got Amnon – as disgusting a specimen of a human being as ever walked the planet. He makes himself physically ill lusting day after day for his half sister, Tamar. That’s a lot of lust. But at least – at least – he keeps it to himself. For a while, that is.

Amnon’s got an equally disgusting cousin, Jonadab – who, instead of smacking him senseless when Amnon shamelessly confesses his dastardly daydreams – devises a scheme to help Amnon indulge his foul and festering flesh by tricking David into making Tamar available to him. David sends Tamar to Amnon’s house, and Tamar pleads with him not to force himself on her.

(While Tamar is pleading with her pustule of a brother, she says something interesting: “Please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” Now, arguably, it’s likely she was just saying whatever she could think of in the moment to get away from Amnon and didn’t really believe David would allow Amnon to marry her. But if she did believe that to be true, that definitely says something about David. Because, by that time in Israel’s history, intermarriage between two people who shared a parent was big-time illegal with severe consequences for the offenders. And David and everybody else in the kingdom knew that. Did David’s children think he would break the law for them and excuse them from punishment? And for such a nauseating reason?)

But Amnon ignores Tamar’s heartbreaking pleas and forcibly rapes her. He rapes his sister. David finds out what happened and is understandably angry. But does he follow the law and have Amnon executed? Nope. (So we at least have our answer to the question of whether or not David would break the law for his children.) If David did anything about the situation, the Bible doesn’t record it.

Fast forward two whole years. David has still not made his rapist son face the music, so Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, metes out his own brand of justice, putting Amnon to death.

Fast forward a few more years and Absalom thinks, “I believe I’d make a better king than dear old Dad.” So he sets about manipulating and stealing the hearts of his countrymen away from David and stages a bloodless coup. David ends up having to flee for his life from his own son. Meanwhile, Absalom moves into the palace, sets up a love nest on the roof where everybody can see, and sleeps with David’s concubines. Then, Absalom gathers up an army to hunt David – his father – down in order to kill him and secure his throne.

David’s men fight valiantly for him, risking their own lives. Joab, the commander of David’s army – perhaps considering David’s command to “deal gently” with Absalom as ludicrous after all Absalom has done – seizes an opportune moment, and kills Absalom. David flips out in grief, so much so that Joab has to rebuke him: all these men risked their lives to save you, David, and you’re crying and moaning over this wretch who was trying to kill you! Snap out of it or they’re going to turn on you! Fortunately, David has the sense to listen to him.

After some more wars, some famine, and a “sin-sus,” Adonijah decides he can pull off the coup his brother Absalom so spectacularly failed at. David is old and sickly, and it should be easy for Adonijah to make a grab for the throne. And in the description of Adonijah, here’s what was said that initially got me thinking David wasn’t Dad of the year:

His [Adonijah’s] father [David] had never at any time displeased him [Adonijah] by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” 

Are you picking up what the author of 1 Kings is laying down? David was an indulgent father. He had never at any time questioned his son’s actions or intervened in a way that upset him. He let Adonijah run wild and do what he wanted to do. And the way Amnon and Absalom acted, it’s reasonable to surmise that David raised them the same way, along with all the rest of his children. It’s a miracle Solomon turned out as well as he did (at least until his wives drew him away from the Lord into idol worship). Reading the first nine chapters of Proverbs, I can’t help but wonder if Solomon observed David’s parenting and was determined not to follow his poor example. Listen to my instructions, son. Get wisdom. Don’t be a fool.

Sometimes Bible characters set a great example for us. David, a man after God’s own heart, set many. But sometimes God lets us see their poor and sinful behavior so we can learn not to follow their example. Moms and Dads, let’s make sure we are men and women after God’s own heart when it comes to parenting our kids.

Happy Father’s Day, y’all.

And Speaking of David…

It seems like there’s never anything decent on TV in the summertime – I need something to watch while I’m folding the laundry to make it bearable – so I’ve taken to watching old movies in the summer instead of TV. David and Bathsheba (1951) happened to be on recently, so I recorded it, thinking, “The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, The Robe, etc. were all good. Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward…how bad could it possibly be?”

Well let me just tell you – it was a stinkeroo from the word go.

I’m really going to date myself here, but…remember when the newspaper used to have those fun little puzzles in the comics section? One of them was a picture and you were supposed to look at it and find everything that was wrong with the picture: a car with a doughnut in place of a tire, a swing with only one chain, etc. That’s what this movie was like. So much ridiculous and crazy stuff thrown in, and even the parts that were true to Scripture were chronologically out of order.

I like Bible story movies, and I have no objection to the writers “filling in the blanks” of a Bible story as long as whatever they fill in is biblically and culturally plausible and doesn’t conflict with anything in Scripture. God already wrote the script – stick to it!

I give David and Bathsheba five boos and a hiss, because it was also very monotone, too long, and just plain dull much of the time. (How anybody can make that story dull is beyond me, but they managed it somehow.) If you’re looking for a more biblical version of this story, even VeggieTales’ King George and the Ducky would fit the bill. If you like those “what’s wrong with this picture” puzzles and you want to work one for two hours straight, knock yourself out:

But honestly, read the book. It was so much better than the movie.

And Speaking of Movies…

If you have Amazon Prime Video, there are a lot of free Christian movies and videos available to you. Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was phenomenal. There are also some very good movies, biographies, and documentaries on Martin Luther, John Hus, John Knox, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, William Tyndale, and others. You’ll even find things like Ligonier Conference session videos, biblical archaeology, apologetics, and various Bible study materials. Unless you’re looking for something specific, put broad topics like “Christian” or “Bible” into the search bar, and you’ll be able to see a lot of what is available.

One word of caution – just like when you walk into the “Christian” section of a bookstore, you’ll need to have your discernment radar on full alert. Some of the “Christian” videos at Prime are materials put out by false teachers, Mormons, New Agers, etc.

Ladies and Gentlemen

In the midst of the war on the biblical roles of men and women that’s raging right now, a thought occurred to me that I don’t believe I’ve heard anybody else bring up.

As complementarian women, we’re not only blessed that God has not burdened us with teaching men, He has also blessed us by allowing us to receive biblical instruction from both men and women.

Think about that. As a godly woman, you can attend a conference where the speakers are all male, all female, or a mix of both. You don’t need to worry about whether your Sunday School teacher is a man or a woman. You’ll of course, need to concern yourself with other issues, like whether the woman teacher is also teaching men, or is teaching false doctrine, but as far as the sex of the person teaching you, there’s nothing to worry about. Godly men don’t have that option. When the Bible is being taught in the church setting, their only option is a male teacher. Ever think about that? It’s a pretty nice perq!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Pianist leading worship, hosting a women’s event, re-baptism…)

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


Usually The Mailbag is all about mail I’ve received from readers, but today, I want to start by sending a thank you note to you!

Thank you from the depths of my heart to each and every one of you who donated so graciously and made it possible for me to speak at the Cruciform Conference in Indianapolis this October. I was floored by your generosity and it was a great way to celebrate my birthday. I’m so honored that you would partner with me in ministry to the ladies at the conference. Thank you and God bless you.

(I tried to make sure I sent an individual thank you message/e-mail to each donor, but if you donated anonymously or I somehow missed being notified of your donation, I apologize and hope you’ll accept my thanks here.)

If you’re going to be in the area, come on out to Cruciform. It will be a blessing to you, and I’d love to meet you!


I’m the pianist at my church, and my pastor has asked me to select the hymns for our worship services because it takes a lot off him and helps him out. I select the songs from a certain hymnal and two other doctrinally sound sources. Am I in an unbiblical position of “leading” the worship service when I select these songs?

This is a great question. It’s so encouraging when Christian women want to be godly in every aspect of their ministry at church!

No, that’s not leading, that’s serving your pastor and your church. Basically what you’ve got here is a body of songs your pastor already approves of, and he has asked you to whittle it down to four or five songs each week from this pre-approved “list”.

If you choose a song he doesn’t like for some reason or that doesn’t fit with what he’s preaching that week, he always has the prerogative to say, “This song isn’t a fit this week. Could you please choose a different one?” In essence, you’re presenting him with suggestions and he makes the final decision, so he’s still the one in the position of authority. I used to do the same thing for my husband when he was a minister of music at one of our former churches.

Thank you for serving your pastor and your church!


I loved your article Women’s Events on a Shoestring Budget. The funding tips encouraged me to put on an event for our ladies, but our small church has never done anything like this before. What kind of event should we have and how should we get started?

I was so encouraged to get a couple of questions like this in response to my article. Even at a small church (and sometimes especially at a small church) a women’s event can really help refresh and build up the ladies of your church. It can be a great outreach to the ladies of your community, too.

I would recommend starting small and then growing year by year. For example, if I were in a church with an attendance of 50-150, I would start with an in-house (only ladies from your own church) mini-conference. A Saturday morning simple breakfast (coffee, doughnuts, fruit – food that’s easy to get, serve, and handle), followed by a local speaker (maybe the pastor’s wife at a sister church, or even one of the ladies in your own church) and a couple of songs. You could end there, or possibly have a time of discussion around the tables afterward, or just allow the ladies to hang around and fellowship with each other.

The next year, you could build on that. Maybe the speaker does two sessions with a break between, and you invite/publicize to other local churches. The following year, you could do an overnight retreat or you could expand the conference to an all day thing and have more than one speaker. If you start small and grow your event each year, you’ll learn things you should and shouldn’t do differently along the way, and you won’t be biting off more than you can chew the first time out.

Another thing that might be a good idea is to have a meeting with all of your ladies and ask them what kind of event they’d like. You might be thinking “conference” and they might be thinking “movie night”. It’s good to brainstorm and take the pulse of your ladies on what they’d prefer.

You could also get the men of your church involved in putting together and serving at your conference or event. I spoke at one conference where the men of the church actually put on the conference for their ladies – to honor and thank them. That was one happy bunch of ladies!

Just remember what I said in the article: Don’t try to compete with the expensive glitz, glam, and giveaways of mega-conferences. You do you, your church or host organization…And remember, it’s the caring and hospitality of the hosts that will make the greatest impact on your attendees, not the swanky food, decorations and swag bags.


I wanted to let you know I saw an inappropriate advertisement on your blog.

Thank you so much for letting me know. Rest assured, I don’t choose those ads, nor do I have any control over them. I can’t even see them from my end. I’m in the process of considering some formatting changes to the blog that may (or may not) put an end to the ads.

In the meantime, my article Advertising Redux explains what you can do to avoid those inappropriate and annoying ads on my site and on other sites as well.


I have a friend who was baptized as an infant, but since she was baptized in the name of the Trinity, she feels as though she can not be re-baptized as an adult believer. How would you speak to her?

I’ll bet that’s kind of a challenging road to navigate as her friend, isn’t it? Without a great deal more information I’m hesitant to give a definitive answer, but hopefully I can point both of you in a helpful direction.

I’m assuming if your friend is considering being baptized, she’s either a member of a local church or a candidate for membership at a local church. The first thing I would want to make sure of is that she’s in a doctrinally sound local church, because the second thing I’m going to advise is that she set up an appointment with her pastor to discuss this issue of baptism. (If the church she’s in isn’t doctrinally sound, getting her into one that is is job one, not baptism. Check out the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page.)

Different churches and denominations have different understandings of baptism. Her pastor can explain to her how her church views baptism, why it is requiring(?) her to be re-baptized for membership, and how it understands Trinitarian paedo (infant) baptism versus credo (Believer’s) baptism.

Once she has sat down with the pastor and had all of her questions answered, she will need to search the Scriptures, pray for wisdom, and make sure her understanding of baptism lines up with that of the church she’s considering being baptized into. If it does not, she will need to further study the Scriptures to determine whether or not her personal view of baptism is indeed biblical. If it is but does not align with her current church, she will probably need to find a new church whose view on baptism she agrees with.


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.