Church Leadership Qualifications: Biblical or Pragmatic?

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When it comes to leadership positions in the church we often get ourselves into unnecessarily sticky situations because we put practical considerations – who is available, who is most talented, who is willing, etc. – above biblical qualifications.
When we fill a position of leadership or responsibility at church we first go to Scripture to find out if the person we’re considering for the position is biblically qualified to hold it. Practical considerations come second. A few examples:

1.

An elder or deacon just died and the church needs someone to replace him. The first place you go is 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and you start by weeding out the men who don’t fit those qualifications. It doesn’t matter how willing they are or how great of a job they would do or what kind of connections they have or how much money they could bring into the church, they have to meet the biblical qualifications first.

2.

Your church is located near a neighborhood full of Chinese immigrants, most of whom don’t speak English. Someone comes up with the commendable, Great Commission-honoring idea to start a Bible study to reach out to the men and women of this community. The only person in your church who speaks Chinese is a woman, so she’s the natural choice to teach the class, right?

Wrong. We start with the biblical qualifications for teachers, and one of them (1 Timothy 2:12) is that women are not to teach men. She could certainly teach (assuming she is able to teach – language alone doesn’t make someone a good teacher) a women’s class, or a male could teach the class in English and she could translate, or a man could take the time to learn Chinese before the church begins offering the class, or if there is a Chinese man in the class who is able to teach, he could teach the men and she could teach the women. But the woman doesn’t teach a co-ed class herself because Scripture forbids this.

3.

A young couple starts attending your church. After a few months, they step up and say they’d like to sing on the worship team. They’ve both got great voices and would radically improve the quality of the music on Sunday mornings. As you chat with them about joining the team, you find out they’re living together (unmarried). They’re both well aware that this is sin, but disagree with what the Bible says about adultery and fornication and have no intention of repenting, marrying, or moving out. Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 are quite clear that people who continue in rebellion after being called to repent are not even to be members of the church, let alone lead in worship.

Remember that the practical way is not always God’s way. Remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). Remember that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12). Remember when Saul did what was good in his own eyes instead of obeying God’s word (1 Samuel 15). Remember what happened to Nadab and Abihu when they conducted worship their own way instead of God’s way (Leviticus 10:1-6).

Obeying God’s word is not always easy, practical, or convenient, but it is always best, biblical, and blessed.

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In Case You Were Wondering: Why Is it Bad for Christians to Cuss?

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I’m working on a project I’ve got to get done this week (prayer appreciated!), so I’ll be re-running a few favorite articles from the archives in lieu of new content.

The In Case You Were Wondering series was the “beta version” of The Mailbag (our regular Monday feature). This article first appeared at Satisfaction Through Christ on September 30, 2015.

Christians and Cussing

Why is it bad for Christians to cuss?
Why are certain words considered “bad words”?

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:7-10

Ouch. Our mouths can really get us into trouble, can’t they? We can lie, boast, and say all kinds of hurtful things to others. And one way that God definitely did not intend for Christians to use our mouths is to use profanity or vulgar speech.

But why? What makes one string of four letters good and noble, such as “love,” “pray,” or “holy,” while another string of four letters is cause for washing out mouths with soap and more restrictive movie ratings?

It’s because of the meaning attached to the word. Human beings don’t deal with words as random assemblages of letters. Human beings deal with words in terms of meaning. And God doesn’t want the meanings that come out of our mouths to point people away from Him, but, rather, to represent Him well. We can see this in the instructions He gives us about the things we say:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

If you’re a Christian who uses foul or vulgar language, have you ever stopped to think about why you do that? What is the motivation of your heart for saying those words? Is it Christlike? Do you think Jesus would use that kind of language? When you say those words do they point people to or away from Christ? What impression does it give people of Christians, the church, and Christ when they hear you cussing? Think about the definitions of those words. When you say those words, what definition pops up in the mind of the person who hears you? Is it something good, pure, honorable, etc.?

But when you come right down to it, swearing is really not a disease to be treated, but a symptom of another disease- a heart infiltrated by worldliness. Luke 6:45 tells us:

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

It’s important to remedy the outward behavior of filthy language, but that only comes from having a heart that is filled with the good treasure of Christ.


Additional Resources:

Is It a Sin to Cuss/Swear/Curse? at Got Questions

Is cursing or swearing a sin? at CARM

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

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For more in the Basic Training series, click here.bible-authority

The Bible. Scripture. The Good Book. It used to be so blatantly self-evident that God’s written Word was the foundation and standard for the Christian faith that it was assumed. A given. You learned, “I stand alone on the word of God- the B-I-B-L-E,” when you were three or four years old, you believed it, and you moved on.

But take a look at the Westernized version of Christianity these days. The fruit of abandoning the authority of Scripture is chilling. From the demonic tremoring and barking antics of New Apostolic Reformation “churches” to the rebellion of female “pastors” to the “gay Christian” movement to “Christian” abortion doctors, it’s clear that an astounding number of self-professed Christians and churches don’t submit to Scripture’s mandates for their beliefs and practices.

“Whew,” you might be thinking, “my church and I must be OK. We call homosexuality sin. We’re pro-life. Our pastor is male. And the wildest our congregation gets is when Brother Joe bellows a good, hearty ‘Amen!’ during the sermon.”

Those are all good, biblical things and I don’t want to minimize them. But is it good enough? Are there other, more subtle ways you or your church aren’t submitting to the authority of Scripture? And what does it mean that the Bible is our authority, anyway?

Have you ever played Monopoly? If you have, you know that you’re supposed to use a Monopoly board, two dice, the and the game pieces and Chance and Community Chest cards that come with the game. You also know that there is a standard set of Monopoly rules that are supposed to be followed.

monopoly-1356307_640Suppose a friend invited you to play Monopoly but wanted to use a checker board instead of a Monopoly board. Or wanted to create a new rule that you would get $500 for passing Go instead of $200. Or that you could get out of jail without rolling doubles.

Monopoly was created in 1903 by a lady named Elizabeth J. Magie Phillips. Magie created the game to teach people the consequences of having large or valuable tracts of land controlled by private monopolies¹. Each piece of the game and each rule was created with that teaching goal in mind. To alter the rules of the game is to, at best, be out of alignment with Magie’s intentions and purposes, and, at worst, to not be playing Monopoly at all. If you want to truly play Monopoly, learn the fullest extent of the lesson Magie was trying to teach, and respect Magie as the creator of the game, you’ve got to play by her rules. All of them. Even the ones you don’t like or particularly understand.

Many of the same principles apply to Christianity. God set Christianity up a certain way with His own intentions and purposes. If we alter His rules, we’re, at best, not lined up with those intentions and purposes, and, at worst, not practicing Christianity at all. If we really want to honor God, grow in Christ to the greatest extent and truly be practicing biblical Christianity, we’ve got to play by His rules. All of them. Even the ones we don’t particularly like or understand.

But what many Christians are doing today is taking their “Monopoly game” of Christianity and assuming it’s for their own entertainment, better quality of life, or positive feelings. And because they’re largely ignorant of the Creator of the “game” and His purposes and intentions behind said game, the players start tossing out His rules whenever those rules don’t fit the purposes and intentions of the players.

God created you and me and the world and Christianity and the church for His glory. He gets to make the rules. We follow the rule book (the Bible), not because those rules will make us personally happy or successful, but – simply and ultimately – because they are given by God and glorify Him. What He says goes, and we honor Him by our obedience. We need to remember that our role in the game is player, not Creator. Players submit to the authority of the Creator.

When the Creator says…
I created the world in six literal days and here’s how I did it, we don’t dishonor His word by trying to cram evolution in there and make it fit. We believe Him, and we teach what His word says.

When the Creator says…
Ladies, I don’t want you to preach, teach Scripture to men, or hold authority over men in the church, we don’t search for loopholes. We search for ways we can humble ourselves and serve God in ways that please Him, not ourselves.

When the Creator says…
Here’s how I want you to pray, we repent of using unbiblical prayer methods such as private prayer languages and contemplative prayer, and we pray the way God wants us to pray.

When the Creator says…
Pastor, I want you to preach the Word, that means pastors preach rightly handled, in context Scripture- not a stand up comedy routine, not the storyline of the latest blockbuster movie, not a half hour of jokes and personal anecdotes, not their own opinions and self-styled doctrines.

When the Creator says…
I want you to stay away from people who teach false doctrine, it doesn’t matter how much we like that teacher, how good she makes us feel, how much we think she’s helping us in our walk with the Lord, or that we’d rather “chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” We reject her, and her teaching, and listen to those who teach sound biblical doctrine instead.

We bow the knee to what God’s word says. Period.

Ladies, if you don’t want to cripple your growth in Christ, one of the worst phrases you can utter about Christian beliefs and practices is, “Well, I just think…” followed by your own personal feelings or opinions. You don’t write the rules.

The Bible says:

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. 
1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

…you…have become slaves of God…
Romans 6:22

If you’re a genuinely regenerated believer, you are the slave of Christ. That means you don’t get to hold, or live by, your own feelings or opinions any more. That’s what lost people do. You are only entitled to God’s opinions as set down in His written Word. Your opinions don’t matter.

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When it comes to Christian beliefs and practices, your experiences don’t matter either. It doesn’t matter what kind of so-called supernatural experience you had where you babbled incoherently or “heard God speak” or saw a “vision” or whatever. If your interpretation of your experience conflicts with the written word of God, your interpretation of your experience is wrong. Something may have happened, but it wasn’t God. (And if something supernatural happened and the Bible says God doesn’t work that way, there’s only one other option.)

When you decide what you’re going to believe and do based on your own opinions, feelings, and subjective personal experiences rather than the written word of God, what you’re doing is saying, “I know better than the almighty, all-knowing God of the universe.” You’re setting yourself up as judge over Scripture. You’re in charge, not God. Doesn’t sound much like a slave, does it?

That’s because Scripture says those who truly belong to Christ will have a heart to keep His word. We will stumble and fall along the way. We will sometimes mistakenly believe things we shouldn’t. But one of the hallmarks of a Christian is that she loves and strives to obey God’s word. Because, as Christians, the Bible is our authority.

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Additional Resources

What does it mean that the Bible should be our sole authority for faith and practice? at Got Questions

For the Authority of Scripture by Dr. John MacArthur

Divine Authorship and Authority at Ligonier

The Authority of the Bible by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Bad Fruit, Diseased Trees, and the Authority of God’s Word


¹Monopoly (game), Early History, Wikipedia, February 16, 2017
²Amadeus photo and quote courtesy of Orion Pictures, Amadeus1984.

Throwback Thursday ~ Top 10 NAR* and Seeker-Driven Buzzwords

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I study false teachers pretty often. I watch their videos, listen to their sermons, and read their articles. And I’ve noticed that there are some common buzzwords that New Apostolic Reformation* and Seeker-Driven false teachers tend to use over and over again. Naturally, these words are just that: words. Just because you hear your pastor, Sunday School teacher, or favorite Christian celebrity utter one or more of them doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a heretic. But if you’re constantly hearing these words and phrases, it could be a red flag that you need to vet the person you’re listening to more carefully and see whether or not his or her theology matches up to what the Bible says. So, here, in no particular order are 10 such buzzwords and some of the false teachers who are fond of them:

1. The Glory

Photo Credit: Revival Magazine

Photo Credit: Revival Magazine

 

“Sometimes as I stand in the glory my hands and feet will begin to drip with supernatural oil, representing the miracle anointing of God.” ~ Joshua Mills

 

 

 

 2. In The Natural

Photo Credit: Awesome God Ministries

Photo Credit: Awesome God Ministries

 

“I learned that even when we are in a place of obedience, we often have no way in the natural of knowing for sure whether we are right or wrong.” ~ Joyce Meyer

 

 

 

3. Shaking/Shifting

Photo Credit: Apprising Ministries

Photo Credit: Apprising Ministries

“If we continue to pray and call out to God, the nation will shift.”

“There is terror in Tampa, Tallahassee and Miami – a ring of terror; but, God has a ring of fire. Shaking, shaking, shaking.” ~ Cindy Jacobs

 

4. Decree

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Photo Credit: Do Not Be Surprised

 

“Decree and declare… THE FAMINE IS OVER!” ~ T.D. Jakes

 

 

 

 

5. Declare

Photo Credit: Amazon

Photo Credit: Amazon

 

“I declare that I am a ‘no lack’ person and receive every blessing You have prepared for me.” ~ Joel Osteen

 

 

 

6. Spirit-man

Photo Credit: Jennifer LeClaire Ministries

Photo Credit: Jennifer LeClaire Ministries

 

“Pray always and when you catch your mind trying to reason out a prophetic revelation, let your spirit man rise up and take control.” ~ Jennifer Leclaire

 

 

 

7. Holyspirit

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A number of NAR personalities refer to the third Person of the Trinity as “Holyspirit” -as though that were His first name- instead of the Holy Spirit. For example, “Holyspirit said to me the other day…”

It is nearly impossible to isolate a text example of this as a) it is usually verbal and b) search engines always include the word “the” in search results.

 

 8. In the heavenlies

Photo Credit: The Elijah List

Photo Credit: The Elijah List

 

“War in the heavenlies. We can battle against the enemy’s strategies through prayer and declaration of the Word. This wins the battle in the heavenlies before it hits the earth.” ~ Patricia King

 

9. Come into agreement/alignment

Photo Credit: The Elijah List

Photo Credit: The Elijah List

 

“…the Bible states that God, before time, determined your zip code—that spiritual place and geographical location; when you get into that spot, everything around you will begin to come into alignment.” ~ Cindy Trimm  

 

 

10. Cast vision

Photo Credit: FBC Jax Watchdogs

Photo Credit: FBC Jax Watchdogs

 

“Sure, I cast vision—but it has taken every staff member and volunteer we have to pull it off.” ~ Perry Noble

 

 

 

What are some common words and phrases
you often hear false teachers use?

The Ten: Lesson 12

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Ephesians 5:3,5

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

James 4:1-3

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.


Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Colossians 3:5, 12-15

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

1 Timothy 6:6-11

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Read through all of today’s passages. What does it mean to covet? How are coveting, jealousy, and greed related? Compare the tenth Commandment to the other nine. In what way is the sin of coveting different from the sins in the other Commandments? Is coveting observable? What specific things does the tenth Commandment tell us not to covet (Exodus 20:17)?

2. How is coveting at the root of murder, theft, adultery, and lying? The Ephesians and Colossians passages say that coveting is idolatry. Why? Can you think of any other sins coveting could lead to? How could recognizing coveting and putting it to death help prevent it from snowballing into more sin?

3. Think about coveting, a secret sin of the heart, in the immediate context of the tenth Commandment (God is setting apart Israel as His own special people and establishing them as a nation). How would obedience to this Commandment have been conducive to keeping law and order in civil society?

4. Do you think the nations surrounding Israel who worshiped pagan gods had laws against coveting? Why or why not? If any of them did, what would be the difference between a false god making and enforcing a law against a secret sin of the heart and God making and enforcing such a law? How would a law against a secret sin have pointed Israel’s pagan neighbors to the one true God who sees and judges the hidden secrets of the heart? How would this have been a testimony to God’s power and omniscience?

5. According to the Ephesians and James passages, is coveting characteristic of Christians or lost people? What does James say are some of the results of coveting? How might having a covetous heart affect our prayer life? (James 4:3) What does Ephesians 5:5 say is the consequence of unrepentant coveting?

6. What role did coveting play in the parable Jesus told in the Luke passage? Explain Luke 12:15 in your own words.

7. Examine the Hebrews, Colossians and 1 Timothy passages and compare them with the tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17. Is the Old Testament instruction about coveting singular (one part) or binary (two parts)? The New Testament instruction? What are the “thou shalt not” and the “thou shalt” instructions about coveting in these New Testament passages? Instead of coveting, we are to be c_____. (Hebrews 13:5) Why, according to Hebrews 13:5, are Christians to be content? How does it demonstrate to others that Christ is sufficient when we are content instead of covetous? Read Colossians 3:15. How can thankfulness counteract coveting?


Homework:

When we covet, we are essentially saying to God, “What You have so lovingly and graciously provided for me isn’t good enough. I deserve better.” Coveting brings with it the sin of ingratitude toward God. Spend some time in prayer asking God to bring to mind any areas of your life in which you’re coveting, and ask Him to forgive you.

Make a list of the things, people, and life circumstances God has blessed you with and keep it handy (maybe in your notes app in your phone?). This week if you find yourself coveting something, someone, or a certain circumstance, drop what you’re doing, go back to that list and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for what He has already provided for you. Ask Him to make your heart content.

 

Movie Tuesday: Making Sure Kids Stay in Church as Adults

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Children who sit with their parents in “big church” are more likely to
stay in church as adults than those who spend the
worship hour in children’s activities.

It’s more detrimental to youth to have a series of youth pastors than to have no youth pastor at all.

These are just two of the fascinating statistics included in Dr. Steve Parr’s recent seminar for the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s ReGroup small group leader training workshop. It’s great information for those in children’s, youth, or student ministry, and if you’re a parent with children still in the home, or a grandparent, you’ll definitely want to watch and give some thought to your church’s programs and how your own family worships.

(Disclaimer: I am not familiar enough with Dr. Parr to recommend or warn against following him. I screened him very briefly for associations with several major false teachers and did not find any with the exception that he quotes John Maxwell – whom I do not recommend – occasionally in his writing. The video above is the only material of Dr. Parr’s I have viewed. As always, please compare all media you consume to Scripture and reject anything that is out of line with God’s word.)

The Mailbag: How Can I Find a Good Church?

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I had to leave my old church (due to unbiblical teaching, because I moved, etc.). How can I find a new, doctrinally sound church?

I get this question a lot, and it’s one of my favorites, because it means the person is thinking about what constitutes a healthy, doctrinally sound church and seeking one out instead of going somewhere she can get her ears tickled. There are a lot of churches out there that have gone off the rails, but there are still a lot of good churches out there as well.

First, you need to know what makes a church doctrinally sound or unsound, which means you have to know what the Bible says about salvation, the Trinity, creation, sin, etc., all the major doctrines, well enough to know whether the church you’re considering believes and practices what the Bible says. I’m a little partial, but I think my denomination’s statement of faith does a decent job of succinctly outlining and giving an overview of the biblical position on the major doctrines, in case you need to study up a little (of course there are some finer points of doctrine you’ll want to take a look at, too).

In addition to what we would think of as the church’s main doctrines, there are some other vital things you’ll want to take into consideration when considering whether a church is healthy, such as whether the church is complementarian or egalitarian, what, if any, connection the church has with false teachers or their materials, whether the church is cessationist or continuationist, how the church handles the music portion of the worship service, and so on. Here are some things my husband and I wanted to know the last time we were looking for a new church.

Ready to start hunting for a new church home? Here are a few guidelines:

1. Pray. Ask God to give you wisdom as you search and to guide you to the right church for your family.

2. Ask around. Do you have friends or family in the area who could point you to a good church? If your current church is doctrinally sound (i.e. you’re only leaving it because you’re moving), ask your pastor for recommendations.

3. Find a good “church search” web site. The best one I have found is the one on Paul Washer’s site. It has several church search engines: 9 Marks, Sermon Audio, Founders-Friendly Churches, and The Master’s Seminary.

4. Put social media to work for you. Ask for church recommendations on your own Facebook and Twitter pages, and ask friends to share your posts with their friends. If you’re in any Christian Facebook groups, ask the group for recommendations. Post on the timeline of any doctrinally sound pastors, ministries, or churches you follow to ask for recommendations. Perhaps the admin of the page or a reader in the area will see your post and answer it.

5. Put me to work for you! I’ll be happy to ask my social media followers for recommendations for you (keeping you anonymous, of course). I’ve heard back from a few people who have found good churches that way. Drop me an e-mail (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com) or a private message on social media and let me know the city and state/country where you’re looking for a church.

6. Found a church you think might be a good one? Examine its web site well. Does it have a solid statement of faith? Any female “pastors” on staff? Is the small group Bible study using a book by a false teacher? Are there pictures of members attending the latest gay pride rally? Are there sermons on the site you could listen to? Look for what the church is doing right and any areas that are red flags you should ask about (Be careful not to jump to conclusions, you could be mistaken about something. Ask.)

7. Did the church pass the web site test? Try it on for size. Visit a few times and see if it seems like a good fit.

8. If you’ve been visiting and think this church might be “the one,” schedule an appointment with the pastor (preferably during his office hours, if possible). Ask any questions you still have and ask how you and your family can get plugged in and serve.

Don’t forget- you’re not going to find the perfect church. Any church you join is going to have some problems. Our goal is not to find a place where we’ll be completely comfortable with never a ruffled feather and all of our preferences catered to. Our goal is to find the most doctrinally sound church we can, roll up our sleeves, and get to work serving, loving, and worshiping.

Additional Resources

Finding a New Church- Starting from Scratch

Six Questions for a Potential Church

Looking for a Church Home? by Tim Challies

Church Shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church at Berean Research


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.

Even More Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

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Where are all the doctrinally sound female Bible teachers?

Can’t you just recommend somebody – anybody – whose Christian book we can walk into a store, pick up off the best-seller shelf, and buy?

Unfortunately, with a few rare exceptions, the answer is no. There are several reasons for that which I won’t go into in this article, but, generally speaking, you’re not going to be able to walk into your local Christian retailer and buy a book authored by a doctrinally sound Christian woman whose name you recognize. Women who rightly handle God’s word? You’ll usually find them out of the spotlight and close to home- serving their husbands, families, and local churches, and impacting them with the gospel- too busy for book tours and autograph sessions.

That’s the kind of Christian women you’ll find below, only they’ve dedicated their moments of spare time to edifying others on line. Their blogs and podcasts can be a great leisure time supplement to what you’re learning in church- but they’re not a substitute. Look to your pastor, good teachers, and the godly women of your church for teaching and discipleship.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Don’t take my (or anyone else’s) word for it that any ministry, podcast, book, or blog is biblical in its doctrine. You MUST do the work of comparing with Scripture everything you read and hear. If it doesn’t match up with God’s word (in context), chuck it.

beautiful-thing11. Beautiful Thing– If you’ve been with me for a while, you might recognize Jess’s name as the author of a couple of our awesome guest posts. Regarding the mission of Beautiful Thing, Jessica says, “My heart for this ministry is to provide biblical strength for women that will encourage you to be, like Mary, devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. In this ministry you will find theological and biblical teaching, exploration into women’s issues, and some biblical counseling.”  Facebook  Twitter

2. enCourage– “enCourage is a blog of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Women’s Ministries. Women’s Ministries seeks to equip, connect, and encourage women in the church to know Christ personally and be committed to extending His kingdom in her life, home, church, community, and throughout the world…you will find articles on topics related to all areas of a woman’s life and faith. We seek to point our readers to God’s Word, and encourage women to apply the gospel to all of life.” Twitter

3. The Verity Fellowship– “The Verity Fellowship is a gospel-centered ministry of Western Seminary, encouraging and equipping women to use Scripture well…We want women to be reminded of the beauty and importance of Jesus Christ as they teach the Bible so that his centrality flows into every aspect of their ministries. We do this through our blog…our annual events, our conference, our forum, and our training.” Be sure to catch their podcast, Verity Voices, as well (also available on iTunes). Facebook  Twitter

sheolgians-transparent-logo-small4. Sheologians– The tagline of this podcast says it all, “Theology for women. No doilies allowed.” Tune in every Friday for a brief (15-30ish minutes, available on iTunes) episode dealing with…well, you never know. From feminism to abortion, chick-lit to Christian bands, Summer White (Dr. James White’s daughter) and Joy Temby tackle a wide array of topics, both sacred and secular, from a biblical perspective. It’s good theology with a healthy dose of hilarity. Check out Summer’s blog, too! Facebook  Twitter

5. Adorned– You might recognize this blog better by the author’s name, Jen Thorn, wife of pastor and author, Joe Thorn. About her blog, Jen says, “I have a passion for theology and a desire to help women see that having a right theology is important if we want to live right, that doctrine is very practical and that the cross of Christ affects every area of our life.” Facebook  Twitter

6. Wise in His Eyes– Rebekah has written a number of helpful reviews of books authored by false teachers, which you’ll find linked in my articles. About her blog, Rebekah says: “Through biblical articles and book reviews, Wise in His Eyes seeks to help women exercise discernment in what they read and believe about themselves, God, and holy living…There is a lot of chaff masquerading as wheat. We need sound doctrine and solid teaching on theology and practical living–knowing who God is and what it means to love and serve God as a woman.” Facebook  Twitter

13769484_535003016687346_879246475844382974_n 7. Berean Examiner– You probably know Amy Spreeman best from her main blog, Berean Research, but you can’t keep this discernment dynamo contained to merely one URL. Amy keeps another blog, Berean Examiner, over at the Pirate Christian Radio web site where she writes on all topics discernment-related. Subscribe to Fighting for the Faith (available on iTunes) and you’ll also get to hear Amy (along with Chris Rosebrough and Steve Kozar) once a month on the podcast. Facebook

8. Fish with Trish– A pastor’s (Emilio Ramos) wife and new mom, Trish Ramos has a passion for evangelism and equipping women to share the gospel. While you’ll find some great resources at Fish With Trish, these days you’ll most often find Trish heading up The Biggest Project gospel distribution program for Wretched Radio and appearing on Wretched with Todd Friel (click “listen now” there’s also a Wretched app) as she shows us how easy evangelism can be. Facebook  Twitter

9. Theology Gals– “Theology Gals is a podcast by women, for women. Coleen and Ashley bring a biblical, Reformed Christian perspective to the table. They discuss theology, studying God’s word and the importance of applying it to the Christian life…on Bible Thumping Wingnut Network.” Facebook  Twitter

54yrgw_m10. Unspeakable– A division of RickThomas.Net’s biblical counseling ministry, “the Unspeakable Podcast speaks to the hidden side of everything, especially those things that are important to you but not regularly discussed in many Christian communities. Kimberly Cummings, Brandi Huerta, and Kim Wine explore all things that pertain to life and godliness…whether they are talking about the unspeakable riches of God or how those riches practically impact individual lives.” Check out their articles, too! Facebook  Twitter


Don’t forget to check out:
10 Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women
10 More Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

Throwback Thursday ~ Fifty Shades of No Way José

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With the second of the Fifty Shades trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker, releasing in theaters tomorrow (Feb. 10, 2017), it’s prudent to refresh our memory on the Christian woman’s response to movies like these.

50shadesLooking for something else to do tomorrow night? Try one of my 50 Alternatives to Fifty Shades over at Satisfaction through Christ.

Originally published February 6, 2015

no way jose

As you’ve no doubt heard, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey is releasing next weekend. Valentine’s Day weekend. Isn’t that a little like picking Pearl Harbor Day as the release date for a movie celebrating kamikaze pilots, with veterans as the target audience?

But perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself. If you’re not familiar with the subject matter, Fifty Shades of Grey is a film adaptation of the novel by the same title written by British author E.L. James. Girls Gone Wise posted an excellent report on the book here in 2012, and summarizes the storyline thusly:

“The books in question are erotica that explicitly describe sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). The story follows an unfolding affair between a recent college graduate, the virgin Anastasia Steele, and handsome young billionaire entrepreneur, Christian Grey, whose childhood abuse left him a deeply damaged individual, and who enlists her to share his secret sexual proclivities. Steele is required by Grey to sign a contract allowing him complete control over her. Because of her fascination and budding love for him, she consents to a kinky sexual relationship that includes being slapped, spanked, handcuffed, and whipped with a leather riding crop in his ‘Red Room of Pain’.”

Let’s set specifics, such as “How much nudity does the movie show?” aside and look at the bigger picture:

Is a movie (or book) that romanticizes and normalizes abuse-infused sexuality something that Christian women should be viewing and supporting financially?

Imagine this book and movie didn’t even exist and some man-on-the-street reporter walked up and asked you that question out of the blue. What would your answer be? Then imagine he turned to Jesus, who just happened to be standing right next to you, and asked Him the same question. What do you think His answer would be?

Well, you might not be sure about your answer, but we can find out Jesus’ answer by looking at His Word:

1. No, because it’s blasè about fornication.

Be honest- did the fact that the two lead characters aren’t married to each other even register a blip on your radar? No blip here, initially, I’m sorry to say. I know it’s just sooo yesterday to say that sex outside of wedlock is a sin, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and HE says that’s what it is. It’s a sin He died to pay the penalty for just like murder or rape or stealing, and to treat fornication as not only normal, but a given (Think about it- how many copies of the book would have been sold if it featured a married couple?) is a slap in the bloodied face of our crucified Savior.

2. No, because it approves of perversion.

BDSM has been around for a long time, but in our culture, it has been relegated to the shadows, locked away out of sight, and not talked about by the vast majority of marginally moral society, because, with God’s law written on our hearts, we know it’s wrong. Grey takes BDSM out of the stock room, removes its plain brown wrapping, and attractively arranges it in the center showcase. “It’s fine! It’s a healthy expression of sexuality! It’ll spice up your love life– just look how playful and romantic it can be!” Romans 1:32 is not amused.

3. No, because it embraces violence and humiliation.

God is not a God who engages in violence and the humiliation of others to gratify Himself. That is cruelty. God is a God who loves us so much that He allowed His Son to be subjected to violence, humiliation, and cruelty in order to forgive those who commit the sins of violence, humiliation, and cruelty. God is good. God is kind. God is patient and loving. To embrace the antithesis of these characteristics is to embrace all that God stands against.

4. No, because it tells men a lie.

God tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Christian Grey (can I just say, I hate that this guy’s name is Christian, since his actions are so un-Christian) loves himself and uses a woman to gratify his own selfish desires. God tells men that, in the same way that they do not abuse their own flesh, but nourish and cherish it, they are to nourish and cherish their wives. Christian Grey nourishes and cherishes his own flesh and abuses the flesh of his woman. God tells men to be understanding with their wives, to honor them, and to respect that they are physically more delicate than men. Christian Grey only understands himself, dishonors his woman, and disrespects her physicality in order to fulfill his own base proclivities.

When Christian women clamor for Grey matter and support it with their pocketbooks, it sends the message to men that Christian Grey’s lusts and behavior are not only acceptable, but what we want. It tells them Grey’s way is good, cool, and cutting edge, and God’s way is sissified, frumpy, and out of date. It sells men a lie.

5. No, because it dims your light.

You don’t hear it much any more, but when I was a yoot, we were frequently asked, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s not that the things we do make us Christians or even prove that we’re Christians, but rather that, if we’re Christians, the things we do will necessarily differ from the things lost people do because the Holy Spirit lives within us, conforming us to Christ’s image.

Does your life look any different from an unsaved person’s life? Because of your love for Christ, it should. We are ambassadors for Christ to a lost and dying world. Our every move preaches a silent sermon to them, showing them what is right in God’s eyes and what is wrong, what is Christlike, and what is not. If you do something, it must be OK with God because you’re a Christian, right? How can we be an example to the world if we look just like them? Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Is your light shining brightly, or are you allowing it to fade into the darkness? How would going to see Fifty Shades of Grey make your light brighter?

6. No, because it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

You believe the Bible, right? Of course you do. You’re a Christian. Well there’s more to it than that. God doesn’t just call us to believe His word, He calls us to submit ourselves to it and obey it. That means there are going to be some things we want to do -that we feel like doing- that we’re simply going to have to deny ourselves out of a greater desire to obey Christ and to represent Him well. Can you go see Fifty Shades of Grey and obey these Scriptures?

Ephesians 5:5-12:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Colossians 3:2-3,5:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

 

I’ll ask again: Is a movie (or book) that romanticizes and normalizes abuse-infused sexuality something that Christian women should be viewing and supporting financially?

Scripture seems pretty clear that Jesus’ answer would be no. What will your answer be?

The Ten: Lesson 11

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the-ten

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Exodus 20:16

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 23:1

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.


Proverbs 6:16-19, 19:22

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Revelation 21:8

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”


Numbers 23:19

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

John 8:44-46, 14:6

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.


Psalm 101:7

No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my [David’s] house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my [David’s] eyes.

Colossians 3:9-10

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Ephesians 4:15

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Examine the two Exodus verses. What does the ninth Commandment mean by “bear false witness against your neighbor“? Is bearing false witness limited to an adjudicative scenario? What are some other ways to bear false witness against someone?

2. Is lying that does not involve a neighbor bearing false witness? (Ex: “I ate two cookies,” when you really ate three or “This car you’re considering buying has never been in an accident,” when it really has.) Is God OK with these kinds of lies since they aren’t specifically prohibited in the ninth Commandment? Why or why not?

3. Going back to the immediate context of the ninth Commandment, (God is setting apart Israel as His own special people and establishing them as a nation), why would it have been important to civil and criminal law and order for Israelites not to bear false witness in court cases? How would this standard of truthfulness in legal matters have set Israel apart from the pagan nations surrounding them and have been a witness to those pagan nations of the one true God?

4. Study the Proverbs 6 and Revelation verses. How does God view lying? What are the two types of lying mentioned in verses 17 and 19? Consider the following words and phrases. How are each of these a form of lying: concealing facts, slander, libel, gossip, breaking promises, failure to tell the whole truth, deception, white lies, cheating, spinning or slanting the facts, embellishing, exaggerating? According to Revelation 21:8, what is the punishment for liars? Which liars?

5. Consider what the Numbers 23 and John 8 passages say about the nature of God and the nature of Satan. Whose nature is truth? Whose is lies? What are some ways God exemplifies truth and Satan exemplifies lies? Whose nature are God’s people to emulate? Why? Are we representing God well to others when we lie, break promises, or fail to be people of our word?

6. Examine Proverbs 30:5, John 17:17, and 2 Timothy 2:15. Why is the Bible called “the word of truth”? Has anyone ever been able to prove any part of God’s word to be untrue? Why is it crucial to mankind’s relationship with God that the Bible be true? How is truth foundational to trust? How does it malign God’s truthful nature when we don’t trust Him? Why is it important that Christians handle God’s word correctly and truthfully?

7. How would you restate the ninth Commandment as a positive (a “Thou shalt ____.” statement rather than “Thou shalt not ____.”)? What are some ways the Psalm, Colossians, and Ephesians verses indicate that God’s people should walk in truth? Can you think of other passages that exhort Christians to be truthful?


Homework:

Are there any areas of your life in which you’ve failed to speak and live truthfully? Repent to God and to anyone you have deceived, lied about, or been dishonest with and tell the truth.

Ironically, sometimes the hardest truths to tell are God’s truths. Is there someone you’ve failed to share the truth of the gospel with? Have you been dishonest with others, yourself, or God about a sin in your life? Have you “softened” the gospel or any of God’s teachings about sin and difficult issues when speaking to others because you’re trying to be nice or keep the peace? Have you overlooked an issue that needs to be addressed with God’s truth because you’re afraid? Are there any parts of the Bible you refuse to submit to because you think they’re wrong? Ask God to reveal to you any situations in your life that need a healthy dose of biblical truth, and pray that He will give you courage and wisdom to “speak the truth in love.”