The Women of Genesis: Lesson 7

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

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Read Genesis 6-9

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Questions to Consider

1. Genesis 4:26b says, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Compare this statement to the spiritual condition of mankind in Genesis 6. Why did God decide to destroy the earth? (6:5-7,11-13)

2. Compare the depravity of mankind with the uprightness of Noah. Who validated Noah’s righteousness? (6:8-9) How do chapters 6-9 describe Noah’s righteousness? How did Noah demonstrate righteousness before, during, and after the flood? In God’s eyes, is righteousness outward (behavior) only, inward (heart condition) only, or both?

3. Review question 7 from lesson 6 (link above). At this point in Old Testament history (Genesis 6), had God given the Law? If not, how could He hold mankind responsible for breaking His Law – being “wicked,” “evil,” and “corrupt” – to the point of killing everyone and destroying the earth and still be a just God? What does this tell us about how seriously God views sin?

4. Compare God’s wrath for sin poured out on the earth in Genesis 6-9 to His wrath for sin poured out on Christ at the cross. How does Noah’s salvation from God’s wrath toward sin by being in the ark point ahead to our salvation from God’s wrath toward sin if we are “in” the cross? What is the type and shadow significance of God (rather than Noah) closing and sealing the door of the ark when His work of saving Noah was finished? (7:16) Do you see any other types and shadows in Genesis 6-9?

5. Examine 6:5-7, 8:21, and 9:11. An unbeliever might look at these passages and think that God realized He made a mistake by creating man, attempted to correct that mistake with the flood, and then regretfully realized that the flood was overkill. The unbeliever might even question God’s sovereignty and omniscience: “Didn’t God already know that man would become so sinful? Why create humans in the first place?” How would you answer these challenges to God’s nature and character?

6. Genesis 9:8-17 is the text of the Noahic (no-WAY-ick) Covenant. What does God promise in this covenant? What is the sign of this covenant? Is the Noahic Covenant bilateral (if people do X, then God will do Y) or unilateral (God says, “I will do X.”)

7. Compare God’s instructions to Noah for His “re-Creation” (9:1-7) with God’s instructions to Adam and Eve for His Creation. What are some similarities? Differences?

8. The Holy Spirit has spent nearly four chapters emphasizing Noah’s righteousness contrasted with the depravity of the rest of mankind. Yet 9:20-27 demonstrate that Noah and his sons were still quite capable of sin. How does this confirm that we inherited our sin nature from Adam and that even the most righteous man on earth is sinful and imperfect?


Homework

If you’d like to do more research on Noah’s story, Answers in Genesis has some great resources on their Noah page.

For even more on Noah and the flood, visit the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.

 


Suggested Memory Verse

When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
Genesis 9:16

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Upcoming Events: Let’s Meet and Greet! (Maybe this week?)

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I’m headed out for the G3 Conference tomorrow, so I thought I’d rerun this article. I still want to do an informal “Hey, y’all, I’m standing in the lobby right now, come on by!” type of meet and greet at the conference center, but I’ll need to figure out where and when once I get there, so stay glued to my Facebook or Twitter for the details. Hope to see you there!


It’s always so much fun for me when I can get out on the road and meet some of my online brothers and sisters face to face. Here are a couple of upcoming events where we might be able to do just that!

January 18-20, 2018
G3 Conference
Atlanta, Georgia

For almost a year, I’ve been desperately hoping to attend the 2018 G3 Conference, but travel expenses plus the cost of the conference put that event out of my reach. Recently, I won complimentary tickets to G3 in a Wretched Radio contest, which will allow a good friend to travel with me and split expenses. What a blessing! I am THERE!

The biggest reason I had been wanting to attend this conference is the theme: discipleship. Since my ministry centers around women’s discipleship, I see this as sort of an “in service” training event. An opportunity to sit under fabulous teachers like Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, Martha Peace (and many more!) and learn how to serve you, my dear readers, as well as the ladies of my own church, better.

I’m hoping to do a very informal, low key, meet and greet time for my readers at the conference venue (The Georgia International Conference Center) either before or between sessions on one of the three conference days. I probably won’t be able to give much advance notice on the blog, so be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the time and place.

I’ve only been to Atlanta once, briefly, so if you live in the area and have any travel, traffic, hotel, or restaurant advice or if there are any discounts you know of that would be helpful, I’m all ears! Please comment below or e-mail me at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. (We will be driving in, not flying.)

If my ministry has blessed you and you’d like to be a blessing in return by helping to defray the costs of my trip, your generosity would be much appreciated. Please click here or on the “Financial Support” tab at the top of this page.

Hope to see you at G3!

(Save the Date card courtesy of Providence Baptist Church)

February 24, 2018
Providence Baptist Church Women’s Conference
Arlington, Tennessee

Sorry guys, this one is just for the ladies!

Ladies, Providence Baptist Church of Bartlett would like to invite you to attend their Women’s Ministry Spring Gathering where I’ll be speaking on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in the morning and afternoon sessions:

Saturday, February 24, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Providence Baptist Church of Bartlett

Tickets are $15 for members of PBC, $20 for for non-members. A catered lunch is included in the cost of your ticket. Space is limited, so call (901-937-5115) or e-mail (info@pbcbartlett.org) the church today for further details.

I’m looking forward to meeting the ladies of Providence Baptist, and you too!

Sometime
Somewhere in YOUR Area

I’d love to come meet and speak to the ladies of your area, too! Putting together a women’s conference, banquet, or other event for 2018 and need a doctrinally sound speaker? I’ve got several slots left on my calendar. Check out the Speaking Engagements tab at the top of this page for more info. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing you soon!

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Soul Ties, SBC Communion, Women in children’s ministry, Heretical book disposal)

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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 potpourrri 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!


I was wondering what your views were on “ungodly soul ties”, in reference to past relationships? If I was in a previous relationship with someone who I was involved with physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, how would I loose myself from that?

The concept of “soul ties” is not biblical. It is not mentioned or even hinted at in the Bible. It is false doctrine usually taught by those in the heretical New Apostolic Reformation camp. (When I Googled “soul ties”, articles by Kris Vallotton {Bethel}, Terri Savelle Foy, and Paula White – all among the worst of the worst of the NAR and prosperity preaching – were on the first page of results. That should tell you something.) There is no way your spirit can be tied or bound to someone else’s spirit.

I’m not sure what you mean by being involved with someone “mentally” and “spiritually”, but I’m assuming you don’t mean that you were in Mensa together or that you had long talks about theology and frequently prayed together. Those might be fond memories that make you wistful, but no mental or spiritual activity you participate in with someone else binds your soul to his or is something you need to be “loosed” from.

What you need to do is read your Bible, understand what it says about sin, and if you sinned in any way in this relationship (for example, sex outside of wedlock, putting your love for this person ahead of your love for the Lord, being influenced by this person to lie, etc.) you need to repent, not “be loosed” (because you’re not bound to this person, and because repentance from sin is the biblical way of thinking about this situation). You may also need to avoid spending time with or talking to this person for a while. And if you’re really having trouble getting over the relationship, you might want to seek counsel from a doctrinally sound pastor (one who understands that soul ties are unbiblical) or an ACBC certified Biblical Counselor.

That’s truly all there is to it. The spirit-realm mumbo jumbo of “soul ties” is a bunch of mystical malarkey. Your spirit isn’t tied to anyone else’s spirit, you’re just sad that the relationship is over, having difficulty moving on with your life, and, perhaps missing the person. And it’s OK if that sounds earthly and pedestrian. Because it is. But if Christ is your Savior, you can trust Him to carry you through it.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

What does the Bible say about soul ties? at Got Questions

Soul Ties? I at Fighting for the Faith (starts around 34:14)

Soul Ties? II at Fighting for the Faith


We recently moved and have been attending a Southern Baptist church. They have not had communion for over two months. Isn’t it the norm to have communion at least once a month? 

Also there is no women’s ministry that I can be involved with which is very disappointing to me. I would even be willing to teach/lead a women’s study but since we are new to this church we are still waiting and learning our place. We hesitate to make ourselves known as possibly unsubmissive or question why they do things the way they do.

Why no communion or women’s Bible study? Your thoughts would be enlightening.

These are such great questions because they help me, as a Southern Baptist, think about the way we do things and how those practices might be perceived by visitors or new members.

Communion/Lord’s Supper: Every Southern Baptist church is autonomous, so each church has its own policy or practice about how often the Lord’s Supper is observed. There are probably some SBC churches out there who hold the Lord’s Supper every week and others who hold it only once or twice a year, although I don’t personally know of any who hold it that frequently or infrequently.

In my experience, most Southern Baptist churches observe the Lord’s Supper several times a year, usually on a schedule like the first Sunday of the month, once a quarter, or every “fifth Sunday” (in months that have five Sundays). In addition to these scheduled observances, many churches also observe the Lord’s Supper at their Christmas Eve, Good Friday, or Easter service.

Women’s Ministry: I understand your disappointment in the lack of women’s ministry at the church. I would be somewhat disappointed too. There could be a variety of reasons for this. Maybe they had a women’s ministry that veered off into error or personality conflicts, so the pastor put it on hiatus for a while. Maybe no one stepped up to volunteer to lead it. Or, maybe the pastor wants everyone’s focus to be on the worship service and Sunday School with no distractions. But even if there isn’t a formal women’s ministry, you can still invite women over to your home, go out for coffee or dinner together, or study God’s word and pray together with a few others. I found this 9 Marks article Ministry to Women When There’s No “Women’s Ministry” really helpful.

Asking Questions: I would encourage you and your husband to set up an appointment with the pastor and ask away! It is certainly not unsubmissive to sit in his office and politely say, “We’re new here and we were just wondering about…” Most pastors I know would love for potential members to do this. (In fact at my church, once a month my pastor holds a sort of “orientation”/Q&A class for potential members during the Sunday School hour.) You need to know where he and the church stand on various doctrinal issues and practices so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised after you’re already members. This is especially important if you’re new to being a Southern Baptist as well as being new to the church. If the pastor in any way discourages you from asking genuine, courteous questions or sees your questions as a threat to his authority, that’s a red flag telling you that you should not join this church.


In the past I purchased books and “studies” by authors I now know are false teachers- an embarrassing amount of them really. I am wondering now what do with all of them…I don’t feel I am mature enough in my walk with Christ yet to read any of them and test them against Scripture myself, but I also don’t feel like passing them on to someone else is right either. Just wondering your thoughts on this.

You’re correct, you should not pass on books containing false doctrine to others, donate them to libraries (especially church libraries), Goodwill, or thrift stores, or sell them in a garage sale. The only scenario I can think of in which passing along a book authored by a false teacher would be OK is if it is to someone you know is a mature, doctrinally sound Christian who needs it for research purposes or to write a review of it warning people away from it.

I would also suggest that you not simply throw throw the books in the trash or recycling unless you render them unreadable (ex: scribbling on or tearing up the pages) first. People have been known to take “freebies” out of the trash.

Here are two ways I’ve handled heretical books I’ve been given:

1. Keep them for research purposes. (If you think you might be tempted to read them and you don’t feel like you’re spiritually mature enough to handle that yet, maybe box them up and put them in storage for a later date.) You might want to mark them in some sort of way – in case you lose the book and someone else finds it or something like that – indicating that the book is false doctrine. My friend, Pastor Nate Pickowicz, has an awesome stamp for his “research only” books:

2. Burn them. I know it reeks of Nazism and censorship by wild-eyed preachers of yesteryear, but it’s biblical, it keeps false doctrine out of the hands of others, and these books can actually have a positive use for kindling if you have a fireplace or chiminea. (Please use all fire safety precautions. Also, it is not necessary to burn the books publicly.)


Is it Biblical for a woman to be in charge of the children’s ministry? Especially one who is not doctrinally sound?

It isn’t biblical for anyone who’s unrepentantly and unteachably doctrinally unsound to be in charge of anything in the church.

If it’s a case like Apollos, in which the person in question simply doesn’t know any better, but changes her ways and embraces sound doctrine when corrected, that’s cause for giving glory to God. (Also, she might need more training in the Scriptures before she resumes her position of service.)

But if it’s a case in which the person persists in teaching false doctrine or acting sinfully, that’s cause for church discipline. And if she steadfastly refuses to repent despite biblical rebuke, she needs to be disfellowshipped from membership in the church. Of course, it should go without saying (unfortunately, it doesn’t these days) that people who aren’t church members and/or aren’t saved should not be given any position of service or leadership in the church.

It could be OK for a doctrinally sound woman to be in charge of the children’s ministry, depending what you mean by “in charge”, and depending on whether or not she can do so without violating Scripture:

1. She should not be considered as, or bear the professional title of, “pastor” or “minister”. It is unbiblical for a woman to be a pastor, and if she’s not a pastor, then bearing the professional title of “pastor” is lying.

2. In her leadership duties, she should not teach adult men (for example, men who teach children’s Sunday School classes, if she oversees children’s Sunday School) the Scriptures or exercise authority over them.

3. The pastor, or an appropriate elder, should vet and approve any curricula and materials, guest speakers, activities, etc., she wishes to use.

If a pastor or elder oversees her leadership so that she is acting under his authority and at his direction, and she is not violating Scripture by preaching to men, teaching men Scripture, or exercising authority over men, I don’t see why it would be a problem for a woman to lead the children’s ministry. In fact, Christian women and churches who handle this properly could be a superb example and model for other Christian women and churches.


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.

Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over

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A while back I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and happened to catch part of an interaction between two women discussing a false teacher. I couldn’t come close to the exact wording if I tried, but the gist of it was…

Discerning Christian Woman: Divangelista X is a false teacher and preaches to men.

Non-Discerning Christian(?) Woman: How can you say she shouldn’t be preaching to men? So what! She’s out there helping so many people and charitable causes! People love her! I think she’s great!

Discerning Christian Woman: Well, I’m really not as concerned about the fact that she preaches to men as I am about the false doctrine she teaches.

I didn’t butt in because neither of them was talking to me, but what I wanted to say was, “Why?” Why, Discerning Christian Woman, did you back off the completely biblically valid point that this false teacher is rebelling against Scripture by preaching to men? If you had been discussing a male false teacher who was running around on his wife, you probably would have led your argument against him with his sin of adultery, with the false doctrine he teaches relegated to a level secondary importance.

Ladies…pastors…why are we so embarrassed to stand up boldly and say that women who preach to men are in unrepentant sin and disqualified from teaching regardless of what their doctrine might be?

It’s a simple little thing called the fear of man. Or, more specifically, fear of woman. We’ve seen women whose feminist ideals are challenged. Even feminists who call themselves Christians have been known to fly into a demonic rage, bent on destroying any person, pastor, or church who dares to topple their golden “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” calf. No one wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of vitriol.

We’re more afraid of the wrath of woman than the wrath of God.
And shame on us for that.

God doesn’t call us to be wimps, people. He calls us to stand on His Word no matter the cost. The great men and women of the faith who have gone before us have done just that, giving their lives rather than renouncing Christ, refraining from sharing the gospel, compromising the Lord’s Supper, stopping the translation of Scripture into the language of the people.

And we’re worried that feminazis might yell at us or make trouble at church.

We need to stop blushing ashamedly and stand unapologetically firm when it comes to denouncing female teachers who preach to men. Here are seven reasons why:

1.
Women preaching to men is personal sin.

When a woman takes it upon herself to disobey Scripture by preaching to men, she is sinning. If we’re the Christians we claim to be, how can we see someone mired in sin and not want to rescue her? It is not loving to ignore someone’s sin, or worse, affirm her in it. To do so is the ultimate act of selfishness, because we’re more concerned about the the consequences for confronting her and how that will affect me than we are about her soul and her relationship with Christ. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”. Sometimes laying down your life means dying to self and confronting sin out of love for someone else.

2.
Women preaching to men is public rebellion.

When a woman stands up in front of a group of men and women and unashamedly preaches to them, she is initiating a public act of aggression against Christ and His church. I don’t care how sweet and pretty and “aw, shucks” she is – that’s what she’s doing. She is leading a rebellion against God’s clear command for all the world, and the church, to see. This is a blot on the reputation of Christ’s Bride whom He wishes to be “holy and without blemish“.  Christians are people who submit to and obey Christ, not leaders of rebellions against Him.

3.
Women preaching to men is false doctrine

She may not say it with her lips, but when a woman preaches to men in defiance of Scripture, she’s teaching false doctrine through her behavior. What is the false doctrine she’s teaching? “I don’t have to obey God’s Word, and neither do you. If there’s a part of the Bible you don’t like, you’re free to disregard it.” Call it antinomianism. Call it whatever you like. But it’s one of the oldest and most fundamental false doctrines.

4.
Women preaching to men undermines
the authority of Scripture.

Christians are “people of the Book.” We are to live under the authority of the written Word of God breathed out by the Holy Spirit. Those who truly love Christ love His Word and want to be obedient to it. When a woman preaches to men in defiance of God’s Word, she is stating with her actions that Scripture has no authority over her. That she can do whatever she wants regardless of what God has spoken. Those who follow her learn, “I am the authority in my life, not God.”

5.
Women preaching to men is God’s judgment on the church.

My people—infants are their oppressors,
    and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
Isaiah 3:12

The fact that God allows a thing to take place in no way indicates that He is pleased with it. When God allows people to persist in sin, it’s not that he’s blessing that person or church, but that He’s giving them over to sin in judgment.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Romans 1:28

(To the church at Thyatira)
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart,
and I will give to each of you according to your works.
Revelation 2:20-23

6.
Women preaching to men undermines
God-ordained male authority.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. That means He gets to make the rules for it, not us. And one of His rules is that men are to be the pastors, elders, and those in authority, not women. When women try to push themselves into positions designed for men, it waters down and cheapens the beauty of male leadership the way God designed it, just as it would if men tried to push their way into the roles God has designed for women. And just as a woman would feel disenfranchised if a man tried to usurp her position as an older woman teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5), biblical pastors perceive the threat to their God-given authority as more and more women take the pulpit.

7.
Women preaching to men is
an indicator of further false doctrine.

I have researched dozens of female teachers, and every single one of them who unrepentantly preaches to men also teaches other forms of false doctrine (usually Word of Faith {prosperity gospel} or New Apostolic Reformation). Every. single. one. If you see a woman unrepentantly preaching to men, that is God’s warning signal to you to stay away before you’re engulfed in even more false doctrine. Refusing to speak out against women preaching to men is to put fellow Christians in a gasoline-doused house of straw without a fire detector. It forces them to stop and search for the fire or examine it to see if it really is a fire – which could end up getting them killed – whereas, if they had a fire detector they would know to make an immediate exit.

 

Every family has that one crazy relative that you just pray will act normal for once – or that you could lock her in the closet – when company comes over. (In my family, I’m pretty sure that’s me.) First Timothy 2:12 is not the “crazy aunt” of the family of God. There’s no need to be embarrassed about putting her front and center for the world to see. She is beautiful and precious and serves an important purpose for God’s glory and our good. Let’s let her out of the closet and be proud of her.

Throwback Thursday ~ Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

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Originally published July 22, 2016false teacher 7 steps

“What are your thoughts about  _____?
Is she doctrinally sound? Is she a false teacher?”

That’s probably the number one question I’m asked by readers. It gives me so much joy each time I receive that question because it’s encouraging to hear from Christian women who don’t want to be led astray and want to worship Christ in spirit and in truth.

I’m delighted to answer readers’ questions about various teachers (You can find information about many of today’s best known evangelical personalities and ministries under my “Popular False Teachers” tab at the top of this page.) but, unfortunately, my answers often take a while. I’ve never heard of many of the teachers I’m asked about, and in order to give a fair and biblically accurate answer, I have to research each of them. The less famous they are, the less information there is out there about them, and the longer it takes. And that weighs on me because I know a lot of you, when you write to me about a certain teacher, need answers now.

It also weighs on me because I don’t want you to just take my word for things. I am a fallible, sinful human being. I get things wrong. I miss things. I make mistakes. Also, I’m not going to be around forever (well, not on this planet anyway!)

For these reasons, and because it’s an important spiritual skill to hone and teach others, I want you to be able to research these people for yourself. “Teach a (wo)man to fish…” and all that, you know. Here are the seven steps I take to discover whether or not a teacher is doctrinally sound.

1. Know your Bible

This. is. not. optional. Get a trustworthy translation (read: not The Message, The Voice, a Joyce Meyer Study Bible, etc.) and study it forwards, backwards, and upside down if you have to. Find, join, and faithfully attend (also not optional) a doctrinally sound church that will immerse you in the depths of God’s word through its preaching and teaching. Listen to good sermon podcasts or an audio Bible during the week. Memorize Scripture. Learn good hermeneutics. Every Christian should be doing these things by default anyway, and one by-product of knowing your Bible is that when you see or hear a statement by a teacher, you often won’t have to do a lick of research to determine whether or not you’re being taught biblical truth. The Scriptures will already be in your heart and mind for comparison.

2. Pray

One of the things I ask of God during my regular prayer time is that He would protect me from being deceived by false teachers, that He would continue to grow me in wisdom and discernment, and that He would develop the mind of Christ in me. It’s also a good idea to pray for wisdom and discernment, and for trustworthy information, before researching a teacher.

3. Know your criteria

One of the arguments I frequently hear when warning people away from a false teacher is “But every teacher makes mistakes!” (see #7 here) Of course every teacher makes mistakes in her teaching, and every teacher sins. A sin or a mistake doesn’t qualify someone as a false teacher. What you’re looking for is repentance and correction.

A trustworthy, biblical teacher teaches sound biblical doctrine and avoids known sin nearly without exception. When those exceptions occur and someone brings it to her attention, she listens, is teachable, repents, and corrects her error (Apollos is a great biblical example of this). False teachers, on the other hand, unrepentantly persist in sin or teaching false doctrine despite biblical correction. Often, they exhibit complete unteachability (as do their followers), deriding those biblically calling them to account as haters, divisive, slanderers, scoffers, jealous, etc.

When I research a teacher, I examine three fundamental areas of her life and teaching: a) Does she currently and unrepentantly preach to men? (Or, if the teacher is male: Does he allow women to preach to mixed audiences from his pulpit or in his stead? Is his wife co-pastor of the church?) b) Does she endorse and/or partner with known false teachers or ministries? c) Does the doctrine she teaches and practices line up with Scripture?

4. Criteria a: Women teaching men

This is a scriptural litmus test that can help give you a quick answer as to whether you should be following a certain teacher or not. The Bible tells us that women are not to preach to, teach the Bible to, or exercise authority over men in the gathered body of believers. Not in the four walls of a church, not on a simulcast, not at a Christian conference. Period. (Click here for more information.)

A preacher or teacher who unrepentantly disobeys this Scripture is no different from one who disobeys Scripture by viewing pornography, embezzling church funds, or teaching that homosexuality or abortion are OK. Scripture is Scripture. It’s all inspired by God the Holy Spirit. There aren’t any instructions to the church that it’s OK with God if you twist their context, brush them aside, or disobey them. If a female teacher currently and unrepentantly preaches to men or a male teacher allows women to do so in his church or ministry, that’s not a teacher you should be following.

Furthermore, women teaching men and women teaching false doctrine are highly correlated. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine.

How to find out if the teacher is disobeying Scripture in this area?

Check YouTube and Vimeo for videos of the female teacher speaking at various events. Are men clearly present in the audience?

Consider the events the female teacher speaks at. Does she speak exclusively at events for women, or does she also speak at co-ed events?

Examine the speaking engagement calendar on the female teacher’s web site. Is she scheduled to speak at Anytown Baptist Church at 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday? She’s probably giving the sermon that morning.

For (male) preachers, check the sermon archives and the “meet our staff” sections of the church web site. Are women serving on staff as “pastors” or in positions of authority over men? Do the sermon archives feature female speakers who have preached to the whole congregation?

5. Criteria b: Partnering with false teachers

Scripture is abundantly clear that we are to have nothing to do with false teachers. Nothing. John tells us that even to greet them is to take part in their wicked works. To publicly praise, point people to, or partner with false teachers is even worse.

Finding out if the teacher you’re researching praises or partners with false teachers is another biblical litmus test that can help quickly determine whether you should be following her or not.

The easiest way to do this is with an internet search engine. Type the name of the teacher you’re researching into the search bar followed by the names of at least a few well known false teachers or ministries (for example: Jane Smith Joel Osteen). You may wish to try names like Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Andy Stanley, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Hillsong, Bethel, IF: Gathering, Proverbs 31 Ministries, etc.

Examine the results. Are there a lot of connections between the teacher you’re researching and known false teachers? Does she frequently and favorably quote, comment on, or re-post false teachers on her social media pages? Does she make a habit of sharing the stage with or appearing alongside false teachers at conferences and other events? Do false teachers praise her, invite her to speak at their churches and conferences, or write endorsements of her materials?

Birds of a feather flock together. If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Bad company corrupts good morals. It’s all true. A teacher who frequently, favorably, and unrepentantly associates herself with false teachers should be avoided.

6. Criteria c: Biblical doctrine

If a teacher has failed criteria a and/or b, that’s sufficient. You should not be receiving teaching from that person. Those two criteria will quickly weed out about 90% of false teachers out there today. However, “passing” both criteria a & b, while a fair indicator that you’re probably dealing with a doctrinally sound teacher, is not sufficient. A teacher can operate biblically in those two areas and still teach or practice unbiblical doctrine. You must examine the doctrine and practices of the teacher you’re considering following to see if they’re biblical, and that can take some time and energy.

Does the teacher have a statement of faith or “what I believe” section of her web site? Examine it. Are all of the tenets biblical and backed up with chapter and verse Scripture? Are the tenets specific, detailed, and clear cut as opposed to general and nebulous? A solid statement of faith can be helpful, but keep in mind that a significant number of churches and ministries have perfectly biblical statements of faith “on paper” yet do not faithfully adhere to to those principles in teaching and practice.

Ask doctrinally sound, trustworthy friends if they’re familiar with the teacher’s doctrine. There are also many theologically solid Facebook and Google+ groups you can join and ask your fellow members their impressions of various teachers. There are a lot of Christians out there who have read a lot of books and listened to a lot of teaching. They can be very helpful resources.

What do reputable, doctrinally sound teachers and ministries have to say about the teacher, her teachings, or the Scripture or doctrine in question? I regularly use and highly recommend the following sites:

Fighting for the Faith
Berean Research
CARM
Wretched
Got Questions
Grace to You
Sola Sisters*
Apprising Ministries*
*These sites are now dormant, but their archives can be helpful, especially if you’re looking for older information.

Read the person’s materials or listen to her teaching. Take notes. When the teacher makes an assertion, ask yourself, “Where, in context, does the Bible say that?” When the teacher cites a passage of Scripture, look it up and see if she’s using it in context. Does the teacher primarily use one reliable translation of the Bible when teaching, or does she skip around through various translations and paraphrases while teaching to make sure the verses use certain words that fit with the theme or idea she’s teaching? Does she engage in gimmickry or does she simply teach the Word? Is the centerpiece of her teaching a correctly exegeted passage of Scripture, or does her teaching revolve around a story, movie, prop, idea, theme, topic, or illustration that comes from outside of Scripture? Does she frequently allegorize Scripture? Does she make every Scripture about you, your hopes and dreams, your experiences? Does she spend more time correctly handling and teaching Scripture or telling stories, jokes, and illustrations? These are all things to watch and listen for. If a teacher consistently mishandles, misunderstands, or misapplies Scripture, she’s not a teacher you should be following.

7. Check the date

When you’re researching a teacher, check the date on the evidence you’re examining. Is it old or fairly current? We all grow and mature over the years in our walk with the Lord. Are you seeing red flags in the teacher’s older materials? Try to find out if she has repented and corrected those unbiblical teachings or behaviors. If so, and she’s currently teaching and behaving in a way that lines up with Scripture, forgive her. It is not fair or biblical to hold past sin against someone when she has repented and Christ has forgiven her. She, and her recent materials, should only be avoided if she is currently and unrepentantly teaching and/or practicing false doctrine.

Before receiving teaching from anyone, it’s important that we examine that teacher’s doctrine and practices in light of Scripture. God commends the Bereans for receiving Paul’s word with eagerness, yet examining the Scriptures to see if what he was teaching them lined up with the Bible. May we be as vigilant and noble as they in our quest to know Christ and His word.

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 6

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

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Read Genesis 4-5

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review Lesson 5 (link above).

2. What do we know about Adam and Eve’s life after their expulsion from the Garden? (4:1-2,25) What do Eve’s statements about Cain’s birth (1) and Seth’s birth (25) tell us about her ongoing relationship with and attitude toward God? What does Adam say about God in chapter 4?

3. Examine 4:2-7. When, in Old Testament history, were the laws about offerings (what to offer, what was acceptable or unacceptable) given by God? How were Cain and Abel to know what kind of offering would be acceptable to God? Considering the character of God and His remarks in verses 6-7, did He arbitrarily and capriciously reject Cain’s offering and accept Abel’s? What, then, might we safely surmise about Cain and Abel’s knowledge of making offerings to God?

4. Who was Cain angry with? (5-8) Did Cain have reason to be angry at God? At Abel? At himself? What did God tell Cain about his anger? (6-7) Do human beings ever have a righteous reason to be angry with God? Think about the latter part of verse 7 (“And if you do not do well…”) What does this mean? How does it apply to your heart and life?

5. Read 4:8-16. What was the root sin (pride, jealousy, hatred, etc.) of Cain’s heart that eventually led him to kill Abel? Can you list all of the sins (in thought, word, and deed) that Cain committed in verses 3-10? Describe how a sinful attitude of heart can “snowball” as it did in Cain’s case. What does this teach us about killing sinful thoughts and attitudes before they lead to more sin?

6. We nearly always focus on Cain and his sin when we read the story of Cain and Abel, but who else did Cain’s sin impact? (4:1-2,14-15,25) How do you think it affected Eve to lose one son at the hand of the other? Do you know someone who has lost a child or sibling to a violent crime like this one? What are some ways you could minister to that person?

7. When, in Old Testament history, did God first give the law prohibiting murder? Was murder a sin prior to God giving that law? How does this help us to understand that God’s moral law (laws about right and wrong) is transcendent and still binding on Christians today, though the Old Testament ceremonial laws governing temple worship, and the civil law which governed the Old Testament nation of Israel, were fulfilled in Christ and no longer required of Christians?

8. Examine Cain’s words in 4:13-14. Does he sound repentant over his sin? Is Cain exhibiting a godly grief or a worldly grief? What is the difference and how does this apply to your own repentance from sin? How did God show grace to Cain? (15-16)

9. In your own words, summarize the remainder of Cain’s life and descendants in 4:16-24.

10. What does verse 26 mean when it says, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.”?

11. Compare God’s command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 to the information in Genesis 5. Why would it have been important to the fulfillment of Genesis 1:28 for people to a) live so long, and b) be able to have children at such old ages?

12. What is the final statement God makes about every father in chapter 5 (ex: verses 5, 8, 11, etc.) except Enoch? (21-24) What happened to Enoch, and why? How does the repeated phrase “and he died” drive home and demonstrated the fulfillment of God’s promise in Genesis 2:16-17?

13. In what ways do Genesis 4 and 5 point us ahead to Christ?


Homework

Where did Cain get his wife? It’s one of those biblical questions that can be challenging. If you’d like to study up on this topic, here are some helpful resources:

Who was Cain’s wife? Was Cain’s wife his sister? at Got Questions

Who Was Cain’s Wife? at Answers in Genesis

Where Did Cain Get His Wife? at CARM


Suggested Memory Verse

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 
Genesis 5:1-2

Testimony Tuesday: Carey’s Story

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Carey’s Story

I grew up with a mentally ill single mother. My father had had an affair with her and went back to his wife before I was born. After my Christian step mother found out about me, she would witness to my mother and I over the phone. My home life was very unstable and chaotic and I almost committed suicide at the age of 13. I had decided I did not believe in God.

A few months later, Child Protective Services took me away from my mother and placed me in foster care. The first time my father ever called me was to ask if I would like to live with him and his wife- under the condition I would go to church with her. He did not go nor was he the spiritual leader of their home.

My father was awarded temporary custody and the day I moved in with him was the day I met him face to face.

I began to go to my stepmom’s charismatic, nondenominational church when I was 14 and was saved several months later. I had a deep rooted resentment and bitterness towards my dad and it was at this church that I was introduced to being “slain in the spirit”. The leaders would pray over me at the altar and although it felt as though they were pushing me over at times, I would fall to the floor “overcome by the Holy Spirit”. I grew up around prophesy, tongues, and women in unbiblical roles. Despite- and not because of- this, the Lord was merciful and gracious and through the years He did indeed deliver me of the stronghold of hatred towards my dad and I grew in my faith of God’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, however, my stepmom was heavily influenced by televised false teachers such as Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey, etc., and would share many unbiblical, yet convincing, ear tickling things with me. She was my number one mentor and a best friend. I also struggled tremendously in trying to be a good Christian but fell into many temptations such as extreme promiscuity and partying over the course of almost a decade. It seriously is only by God’s unfailing mercy that I am alive today.

In my early 20s, I married my second husband while in the Army. We were a “dual military couple”. I became pregnant with our son and discharged from the service to become a stay at home mom. I found a Southern Baptist Church while we were stationed in Texas and it was there that I grew tremendously in my love for God’s infallible Word and was discipled by our Sunday school leaders, particularly the wife. I was baptized and my husband soon began attending after initially refusing to.

However, our marriage was in a very terrible state and he was abusive.

Being an Army wife afforded me many opportunities and it was through joining the military ministry, PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) that in many ways stunted my growth in biblical discernment, wisdom, and Truth. I became super involved and volunteered on and off for several years. I did many Bible “studies” by Beth Moore and others by leaders such as Priscilla Shirer.

At our next duty station, which was in my home state, we joined a church where I joined a prayer group that was led by the worship and youth pastor. He was a young man that was deeply deceived by the teachings of Bethel Church in Redding, California and many like-minded leaders, including the “Toronto Blessing”. The focus is on bringing heaven to earth, spiritual gifts, and signs and wonders. It is all very much based on emotionalism and New Age mysticism, but laced with Christian lingo and severely twisted Scriptures. I became even more influenced by leaders in the Word of Faith, “Name it and claim it”, NAR, post-modern Christianity, etc.

It was during this time that I fell into going outside of God’s Word and I would literally beg God for “more”, to be “undone” by the Holy Spirit and for Him to “visit” me. I wanted the power that I was duped into believing I deserved more of and was entitled to as a child of God. I would ask and even sing along to the song, “Fill me up, God”. I experienced being “drunk in the spirit”, received numerous visions, words of knowledge, operated in the gifts of tongues and prophesy, and had many incredibly convincing experiences. Much of what I was caught up in was contemplative prayer- emptying ourselves and letting “jesus” speak to us and giving “him” control over our prayer times. Only occasionally was a Bible actually opened (honestly, I used it the most during our meetings) yet we took precious care of the journal we would write in to document our prophesies and visions. Some of the other prayer group “members” would travel up to the “Toronto Blessing” church and even attended Sozo meetings out in the west. We also operated in automatic writing and speaking, and spoke in tongues without interpretation. The pastor also would take the teenagers on “treasure hunts”. They would pray, receive “clues” in visions and other ways “the spirit” would tell them, then go out into the city and find their targets. They would then approach the people and pray for them. This of course was very special, secretive operations only to be known by certain people.

We were taught that every decision in life should be directed by “the spirit”, neglecting the truth that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3.16). It was all very mystical and completely unbiblical.

During all of this I was still in the Word and there were many red flags that would wave, yet I was so caught up in the feelings and “power” of the experiences I was having. Not to mention I was being taught by a pastor who seemed very knowledgeable and had a “passion for the Lord” so what did I know? Truly he must know more than me.

When you are caught up in this heresy, you are always looking for the next high. You are never satisfied with God, despite the fact that Psalm 107.9 says “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” One is truly enslaved by greed, lust, and idolatry.

You will do anything you think is necessary to remain on the mountaintop and avoid the valleys at all costs. Although I never wavered in faith of God, my walk was extremely chaotic and like a roller coaster. I would go through severe bouts of depression. Yet I also would experience extreme highs and excitement while reading Scripture eisegetically. I based my “spiritual maturity” and my relationship with Jesus on my feelings and by whether or not I could “feel His presence”, as the focus in most of these “ministries” is on how you feel. Because I was always “up and down”, I actually wondered if I was mentally ill, given family history. Throughout the years – I would “storm the gates of hell”, interceding for my kids and “binding” the devil of his plans for myself and my family. I would actually yell at satan, deceived of what true Biblical spiritual warfare is.

Keep in mind, it was during this time that the abuse in my marriage was close to being at its worst. My husband was not at all the spiritual leader of our home and I held a tremendous hatred towards him and would fantasize and even pray that he would die. I knew that this was wrong; I just kept begging God to deliver me in whatever way He saw fit.

Our group was very secretive and the attitude among us was prideful; we had elevated opinions of ourselves and “our gifts”. But never would we have admitted that. Thankfully the other pastor and elders of the church soon caught on to what the pastor was teaching the teenagers and the heresy that he was spreading. He was removed from his position and it caused a division within the church. This threw my world upside down and our prayer group split, with certain members leaving the church. One lady actually said “my gifts are not welcome here”. However, I had never felt like I was a true member of the group- something was always off and I felt as if they didn’t fully trust me. Another former “member” I have since spoken with admitted to feeling the same. I’m pretty confident that I don’t even know the full extent of the dangers they were involved with. And for that – I am now thankful!

I also was incredibly involved in the church and volunteered in many areas. I even had a key to the building- which was a source of pride, one sin that I was very enslaved by.

I love to read so it was also during this time I had many “Christian” books and I began to be very confused and unsure of what exactly I believed because I had so many “teachers”.

We are currently at another duty station and it has been during this last year and a half that God placed someone in our Facebook newsfeed that will at times biblically expose false teachers. Despite other times where I would start to research and seek the truth, yet fall right back into the lies, this time I dove in. I have found legitimate sources and people who shine the light on Biblical truth. With the Lord removing the blinders I had on for so long, reading the Word exegetically and for how God inspired it to be written, and resolving to not look outside of His Truth, I am coming to a true, Biblical understanding of Who He really is (and who He is not).

It has taken me many months to let go of the “mind blowing” experiences I have had throughout the years and accept the realization that the majority of what I thought was the Holy Spirit was not Him. I had opened myself up to the occult- all in the name of Christianity and being tricked into believing I was “anointed”.

I am thankful that during all these years I had been journaling almost every day so I have proof of the horrendous dangers I was caught in. I have considered destroying them but have chosen to keep them and instead plan to write a letter such as this testimony to precede the journals for anyone who may someday read them. I want people to understand that where I am in life now and in my understanding of God and His sovereignty does not come from a fundamentalist, legalistic, outside opinion. I was very much involved in and deceived as you have read.

When we arrived at our current duty station, I was not as discerning as I am now growing to be. We started attending and stayed at a church for over a year. In the time the Lord has been exposing the lies I have been trapped by, He showed me that it is not a church to be at. There are many reasons we left, but one is that their “worship” music is more self and “spirit” focused. Much of it comes from Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong. We have since made the move and now attend one where God is truly glorified in the exegesis preaching, studying of the Scriptures (not some topical study some “teacher” has written), music worship, and fellowship.

I am truly thankful for all the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do in my life. Especially for delivering me from the stronghold of false teaching. Now that I am being led in truth and I’m growing in discernment, my mind is clear, and I am on a steady path walking with my Lord.

And as a side note (which is another testimony in itself!)- He has delivered me from my abusive marriage by way of revealing to my husband his sin- he has since admitted to and has repented of the abuse. He truly is not the man I was married to all those years. He no longer treats me the way he did for 9.5 years. Although he is not a “super spiritual leader”, God continues to work in him. And I am continuing to learn to follow the whole counsel of God- to not pick Scriptures out of context to support my opinions or what someone is trying to teach. It was in doing this with verses on marriage that kept me bound in abuse and almost destroyed our family. Our marriage is definitely not perfect and there are still things that the Lord is working on in my heart, but we overcame almost divorcing and the Lord continues to heal us.

I truly believe that our marriage- as well as my father and stepmother’s- is an example of the destruction that can happen when men do not accept their God-given roles in leading their families centered on Christ and grounded in the Bible. Of course, women also neglect their ordained roles and our society suffers because of each person’s choices.

For everyone reading this – please know that God’s inspired Word and His grace is all sufficient. We do not need to- nor should we- look to any false gospel (which is no Gospel at all) to have our needs and/or desires met. Every need/desire we will ever have in this life has already been provided for by Jesus Christ dying on the cross and His resurrection.

I want to thank Michelle for her work in contending for the faith once for all delivered (Jude 1.3) and for allowing me to share my condensed (at least I tried to keep it short!) testimony.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Try to be brief (3-4 paragraphs or less) if possible. I’ll select a few to share on the blog another time. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Replacement Theology, Spiritual Gifts Test, Books by false teachers…)

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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 potpourrri 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!


Can you explain what replacement theology is?

I can, but there are pastors and theologians way smarter than I am who have done a much better job of it than I could. I reached out to my friend Pastor Gabe “WWUTT” Hughes for some help and he addressed the question in this episode of the When We Understand the Text podcast (starting at about 1:30):

WWUTT 565 Q&A Replaced Protesting Eligibility?

You may also find the following resources helpful:

The Church and Israel: The Issue at Ligonier

What is replacement theology / supersessionism? at Got Questions

What is replacement theology? at CARM

Supersessionism at Theopedia


I want to get more involved in serving my church. Can you recommend a spiritual gifts survey web site so I can find out what my spiritual gifts are and how I should be serving?


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Sanctification > Resolutions: 6 Ways God Could Sanctify You in the New Year

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Happy New Year!

There’s just something about the beginning of a new year that brings with it a yen for getting a fresh start. We think back over the past year, evaluate what we’ve spent our time and efforts on – or what we should have spent our time and efforts on – and, invariably, there’s a desire to make this year better.

Lots of people will make lots of resolutions for 2018: to lose weight, to stop smoking, to exercise more. And by mid-February, some 80% of those people will have failed and given up on their resolutions.¹ Why? Partly because (statistically speaking) most of those people are lost and the flesh is exceedingly hard to tame by sheer “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” willpower. Even Holy Spirit-indwelt Believers can testify to the pull of the flesh.

Should we, as Christians make New Year’s resolutions? Is it OK to set a goal to get a certain area of our lives under better control? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, is it possible there’s a bigger picture we need to take a look at?

The Christian life is not one of putting out fires via resolutions. We don’t tackle one problem, get it under control and then move on to each of the other five problems that popped up while we were working on the first one. It’s more like fire prevention. We get up every day and hose down the house and yard by resting in Christ, communing with Him through prayer and the Word, and seeking to obey Him throughout the day. Sanctification is not mainly reactive, it’s proactive. And it doesn’t come by our own outward effort and striving, but by Christ growing us, changing our hearts, and enabling us to obey Him from the inside out.

And guess what? Along the way as Christ is conforming you to His image, you’re going to fail. You’re going to give in to temptation, and you’re going to sin against your Master. But here’s what biblical sanctification offers you that New Year’s resolutions cruelly withhold:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

You don’t just get a fresh start once a year. You get a fresh start every time you confess your sin, repent, and receive Christ’s cleansing and forgiveness. You get the mercy of Christ, the grace of God, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to move forward in submission to God’s Word. You get the steadfast, never ceasing love of the  Father who is out for your good rather than the unfeeling “do more, try harder, be better” taskmaster of New Year’s resolutions.

So, bearing all that in mind, how might God be trying to grow you in Christlikeness this year? What are some ways you can get up each day and proactively rest in, and obey Christ? Let’s prayerfully consider the following aspects of our walk and ask God to sanctify us and help us submit our will to His as we follow Him in this new year.

Growing in the Word

1. Daily personal Bible study. Do you set aside daily time for the personal study of God’s Word? Have you ever read the Bible from cover to cover? Have you considered, maybe just for this year, putting away all of the Bible study books and materials authored by others and using only the Bible during the next 365 days of your personal study time? Evaluate your daily time in God’s Word. Here are some resources you might find helpful:

📖 Bible Study Resources (how to study the Bible)
📖 Bible Studies
📖 Bible Reading Plans for the New Year- 2018
📖 You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

2. Scripture memorization. This is something God has gotten a hold of me about recently. It’s important to store up God’s Word in our hearts as a weapon against temptation, for comfort, for prayer, and to encourage others. Try starting with verses you’re already somewhat familiar with. Many find it easier to memorize Scripture in song form, or by typing it out. If your pastor is preaching through a certain book, memorize a verse or passage out of each chapter as he comes to it. I’ve found it helpful to recite my verses in my head in bed at night. It helps me fall asleep faster, and there’s actually research that shows retention is improved if you study right before bed.

Growth In Prayer

3. Daily prayer time. Of course we should be talking to the Lord throughout the day as we go about the routine of life and work, but that’s not a substitute for having a daily block of time set aside for focusing all of our attention on communicating with God. Jesus set this example for us, and we should follow it. Do you have a daily time of prayer? Do you know how to pray in a way that’s pleasing to God and helps you grow in Christ?

🙏 Prayer
🙏 After this Manner Therefore Pray
🙏 Basic Training: 8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer

Growth in the Body of Christ

4. If you don’t have a church, find one. Physically gathering with the Body of Christ for worship, teaching, fellowship, prayer, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, giving, serving – and so much more – is not optional. It’s vital to your growth in Christ.

 Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians
 Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly
 Searching for a new church?

5. Faithful church attendance. At a minimum, Christians should be at Sunday morning worship and Sunday School/Bible study class/small group every week unless Providentially hindered (circumstances beyond your control: illness, emergency, the rare out of town trip, occasionally having to work). That’s not legalism, that’s loving the Bride of Christ and having your priorities in line with Scripture. Contrary to popular metrics, habitually missing Sunday worship twice or more a month (when you could be there if you made it a priority) is not faithful attendance. If you’re lackadaisical in church attendance, examine your heart. What’s going on in your spiritual life that’s keeping you from wanting to gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ? (And if it’s a problem with the church itself, see #4.)

6. Don’t just “go to church,” invest yourself in it. Are you serving your church in some capacity? Do you regularly and fervently pray for your church, your fellow church members, and your pastors, elders, and teachers? Have you poured yourself into personal relationships with others at church for fellowship, care, and discipling? Do you regularly, sacrificially, and joyfully give offerings? Are you sharing the gospel with the lost? As with anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. God loves you and wants you to invest yourself in His Bride for His glory and for your joy.

⛪ Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others
⛪ Servanthood
⛪ Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor
⛪ To Tithe or Not to Tithe…
⛪ Evangelism
⛪ 10 Fun, Practically Effortless, and Free Ways to Do Missions and Evangelism

How might God want to conform you more to the image of Christ this year? Could it be in one of these areas? Maybe another area? New Year’s resolutions are often about how you want to shape your life. Sanctification is about how God wants to shape your life. Not just for the new year, but for eternity.


¹Luciani, Joseph. “Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail.” U.S. News & World Report. December 29, 2015. Web. December 29, 2017.

25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage

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Today is my silver (25th) wedding anniversary. My husband and I married on a lovely Tuesday evening between Christmas and New Years in a church bedecked with pink poinsettias. And six kids, several houses, and a few dogs later, here we still are, plugging away at this “‘til death do us part” thing. There have been a lot of “for better” times, and some “for worse” times. Days when we celebrated “for richer” and years when we survived “for poorer.” A few “in sickness” moments, but, praise God, we’ve mostly lived “in health.”

There’s a lot I didn’t know about living with a completely different person when I first said “I do,” but here are some things I’ve learned both in my own marriage, and from friends’ marriages, over the last twenty-five years.

1. This, too, shall pass.

It’s easy to look at one fight, one difficult time, and think, in the moment, “That’s it. This marriage is over,” but after a while, you realize this is just one tree in the forest of your marriage. At some point, things will calm down and you’ll be on the other side of it. Marriage is a cross country marathon, not a sprint on smooth pavement. Keep going.

2. “Not tonight, Dear…”

Every couple has to come to their own unique mutual agreement and understanding of each spouse’s wants and needs when it comes to sex. Coercion and manipulation are neither appropriate nor biblical, but neither is depriving each other. There are going to be times when you’re not in the mood for sex but your husband is. If lack of “the mood” is the only thing causing you to say no, say yes anyway, and do it joyfully and enthusiastically. Think of it this way- your husband probably isn’t always “in the mood” to go to work or take out the trash or help with the kids, but you want him to do those things anyway, with a happy heart, because he loves you. Marriage is about serving each other in all aspects of life, whether you’re in the mood at the moment or not.

3. Submit

Biblical submission is not, as secular feminists might have you believe, for weak women, but for strong, godly women. It takes much more strength to exercise self control and obey God’s word than to just do and say whatever you feel like doing and saying. Take it from a headstrong, opinionated gal who thinks she’s always right- it’s not easy, but biblical submission will make your marriage better, healthier, and more Christ-centered, and will grow you to be more like Jesus.

4. Some things are better left unsaid.

You don’t have to verbalize every thought that comes into your mind, especially when those thoughts are critical, whiny, argumentative, “I told you so,” constantly corrective, complaining, cutting, or in any way unchristlike. Sometimes your most shining moment will be keeping your mouth shut.

5. Forgive quickly

You won’t find a passage of Scripture that says it’s OK to hold a grudge or dangle your forgiveness over your husband’s head until he has groveled sufficiently. The Bible says we are to be kind and tenderhearted and to forgive the way Christ forgave us. Do you forgive your husband the way Christ forgives you?

6. Put your husband first.

After your relationship with Christ, your first love, loyalty, service, confidentiality, and time belong to your husband. Not your children, and not your mother, sister, or best friend. Your husband comes first.

7. Don’t undermine your husband with the kids.

God gives your husband the ultimate responsibility for and authority over your family. While you and he can and should privately discuss how to handle disciplinary issues with the children and other family situations which arise, he makes the final decision. Do not collude with the children, argue with your husband in front of them about his decisions, keep secrets from your husband, or otherwise attempt to circumvent his directives. Support him, submit to him, and present a united front.

8. Affirm your husband privately and publicly.

Women can practically turn complaining about their husbands into a competitive sport. Don’t go there. Would you like for your husband to sit around with his friends and complain about you? Don’t do it in a braggadocious way, but, as opportunities arise, let others hear you affirming your husband and thanking God for him. And be sure you do so when it’s just the two of you, too.

9. Don’t publicly shame your husband.

As Christians, we should always – privately and publicly – behave in a way that honors God. As married women that godly behavior will also honor our husbands. Don’t ever berate or belittle your husband in front of others (or in private, either), including on social media. Don’t behave in public in ways that would embarrass him. When others think about your relationship with your husband, you want them to think, “How’d he get so lucky?” not “Poor guy.”

10. Divorce is not an option.

This is the mindset with which couples should both enter marriage and handle normal¹ fights and difficulties. Do not bring the “D-word” out during an argument. God says marriage is for life. It is not disposable.

11. Pray for your husband and for yourself as his wife.

This is probably the most powerful thing you can do for your husband and your marriage. Pray for your husband’s walk with the Lord, situations he’s facing at work, weaknesses he’s struggling with. Pray that God will help you to be a godly wife, and that He will show you how best to support and encourage your husband. Want your husband to change in some way? Don’t nag, pray for him, and pray that God will help you to respond to your husband in a Christlike way.

12. You were always on my mind…

Don’t those little acts of thoughtfulness from your husband – unexpected flowers, doing the dishes, a love note – brighten your day and deepen your love for him? Your husband feels the same way. Cook his favorite meal, send him an occasional text letting him know you’re thinking about him, wear the lingerie he likes. Make him feel special and loved.

13. Extend grace.

Your husband is going to mess up. Often. So are you. Don’t turn his every mistake and sin into World War III. The Bible tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. Extend the same love and grace to him in his offenses that you want him to extend to you in yours.

14. He’s your husband, not your child.

Don’t speak condescendingly to your husband, order him around, or otherwise treat him like he’s one of your children. He’s not. Show him the respect, support, and love a godly wife is to give her husband.

15. Be on the same page, theologically, before marriage.

The Bible is clear that we are not to partner with unbelievers, and the most painful consequences for disobeying this command are often seen in marriages in which a Christian marries an non-Christian. But even if you both profess faith in Christ, it’s important to be in agreement on things like which denomination or church you’ll join and why, what the Bible says about salvation, men’s and women’s roles in marriage and the church, parenting, giving offerings, regular attendance, and other theological issues.

16. Admit when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.

If you’ve sinned against your husband, crucify that pride, admit it, and ask him to forgive you. And don’t forget to repent and seek God’s forgiveness as well.

17. You’re not your husband’s Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict your husband of his sin, not yours. Certainly the two of you should talk things out, and it’s OK to kindly and lovingly discuss how his sin affects you, but no amount of preaching at him or castigating him with Scripture will change your husband’s heart, so don’t try. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

18. God made you the helper, not your husband.

Every family operates differently when it comes to careers, childrearing, and household chores. Couples must reach a mutual agreement about who will carry out which tasks, and should help each other whenever the need arises. That being said, biblically speaking, God has placed wives in the role of helping their husbands, not the other way around. Your husband should not have to work all day and then come home, make supper, clean the house, and raise the children while you pursue hobbies or leisure activities. You both have responsibilities to take care of. Make sure you’re helping him take care of his by taking care of yours.

19. Thank God for your husband.

Don’t forget to thank God for blessing you with your husband. Especially when what you really want to do is hit him with the car. Pour your heart out to God about your anger, sure, but then start thanking God for all of your husband’s good qualities. You might be surprised at the way it changes your heart, your frame of mind, and your ability to forgive.

20. Take joy in the simple things.

Marriage is not a Hallmark, chocolate diamonds, or Carnival Cruise commercial. It’s just not, so don’t expect it to be. Enjoy just spending time talking, working on a project together, or doing chores side by side. Sometimes it’s not “He went to Jared,” but “We went grocery shopping,” that can bring the most joy.

21. Your husband can’t read your mind.

Your husband wants to do things for you and give you gifts that please you. If he asks which restaurant you want to go to, don’t say “I don’t care” if you do. Tell him. Don’t tell him whatever he gets you for your birthday will be fine and then pout because he didn’t get the gift your heart was set on. If he does something that bothers you, discuss it with him. Don’t make reading your mind a test of your husband’s love for you.

22. Don’t go behind your husband’s back.

Unless what you want is a husband who feels betrayed and doesn’t trust you. If he makes a decision, abide by it. If he asks you not to do something, don’t. If you think he’s wrong, discuss it with him privately, kindly, and lovingly. But, unless it conflicts with Scripture in some way, respect, support, and submit to your husband’s leadership and decisions.

23. Another man is not the answer.

You might go through some rocky times in your marriage. Confiding in or seeking comfort from another man will only make things worse or irreparable. Don’t be the foolish woman Proverbs 14:1 speaks of who “tears her house down with her own hands.” Another man is the source of more problems, not the fix for your current problems.

24. Help Him the way He needs to be helped

Your role in marriage is to be your husband’s helper. But sometimes your idea of how to help will be different from his idea of what’s helpful. Maybe you think his socks should be sorted by color while he prefers them organized categorically (dress socks, atheletic socks, etc.) Whenever possible, help your husband in the way he prefers to be helped, not the way you prefer to help him.

25. Your Husband is a valuable resource

God has given you a unique human being with his own background, perspective, education, experiences, and thought processes as a live-in resource. Take advantage of that gift! Trying to figure out how to handle a situation at work or at church? Wondering if you should move the couch across the living room or underneath the window? Attempting to master the art of grilling? Ask your husband for his advice or input. The old saying, “Two heads are better than one,” is true, and he might just wow you with a skill, talent or knowledge you didn’t know he had!

God has been so gracious to my husband and me over the last two decades. I have often failed at many of the things on this list, while God has protected us from the others. I could probably list at least twenty-five more things, but it all boils down to this: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ and love your husband the way you want him to love you. That’s the number one thing I’ve learned in the last twenty-five years, and it’s more valuable than all the silver in the world.

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¹We can all think of exceptions and extraordinary circumstances to all of these points. This article pertains to generally healthy Christian marriages.