The Mailbag: Is it OK for Christian men to read Christian women’s blogs?

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As a man, am I not to read or seek to understand anything from your blog because a woman wrote it? (1 Timothy 2:12)

While other female bloggers might answer differently, as far as my personal position goes, the short answer to your question is no. Generally speaking, it’s not biblically problematic for a Christian man to read my blog because the blogosphere is not the gathering of the church body, and I’m not in any position of spiritual or practical authority over male readers (or even female readers for that matter). Additionally, when I write, I’m writing to instruct and edify women, not men. Male readers are sort of “eavesdropping” or “listening at the door.”

But I would encourage male readers to examine their motives for reading my blog. I have a number of godly male readers, including several pastors, who read my blog for a variety of reasons: they’re interested in a female perspective on various church and biblical issues, they want to use my perspective to better understand and help their wives or female church members, their wives or female church members read my blog and they’re keeping tabs on me to make sure those ladies are taught properly, they don’t have time to vet a certain Christian teacher, so they use my information on false and sound teachers as a resource, and there are those who are friends, whom I’ve asked to keep up with my blog so they can offer me correction as needed.

My thought is that any of those (or similar) reasons are fine and don’t even fall under the spirit of 1 Timothy 2:12, much less the letter. What I do feel would fall under the spirit of that passage would be a man seeking biblical instruction from me for his own personal walk with the Lord. For example- I run a Bible study for women every Wednesday on the blog, and the archives of my previous studies are under the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page. On my part, I’d feel scripturally uncomfortable if a man were using that as the basis for his quiet time rather than using something written by a man, or just studying his Bible. (By the way, if you’re looking for some godly male preachers and teachers, check the “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab at the top of this page.)

I guess the questions I would ask myself if I were a male reader is: What are my reasons for reading this? Is my motivation to receive instruction in Scripture that should really be coming from a male teacher or straight from God’s word? Is my conscience clear, based on God’s word, to go ahead and read this? How can I best honor God and His word in this situation?

I’ve written more extensively on this topic (and related topics) in these articles:

Adam 3.0: Meanwhile, Back in the Garden, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?

Rock Your Role FAQs (#2)


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, 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.

Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor

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Do you pray for your pastor regularly? I hope you do. Being a ministry wife myself, I’ve gotten to know oodles of pastors over the years. The old joke that a pastor only works an hour a week couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ministry is hard. In the midst of the joys it brings, it’s long hours, lots of stress, and dealing with sometimes stubborn (and sometimes downright mean) sheep. In fact, I’ve often said it’s ministry, not the Peace Corps, that’s “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” Here are ten ways you can pray for your pastor.

1. Pray that he will excel at his job.
Ask God to help your pastor “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9) This is the Bible’s main job description for pastors. Pray that yours will fulfill it well.

2. Pray that he will be a good Berean.
Pray that God will help your pastor prioritize vetting the theology of anyone he quotes in the sermon, whose reference materials he uses when studying, or whose materials the church is considering using.

3. Pray that God will protect his time.
Weddings, funerals, outreach events, meetings, even fixing the leaky toilet in the men’s room- they all take up a pastor’s most precious commodity: time. And time, particularly uninterrupted time, is what it takes to adequately study and prepare sermons and whatever Bible studies he might teach. Pray that God will provide your pastor with the time he needs (and good time management skills) to attend to study, sermon prep, and all his other pastoral duties.

4. Pray for rest.
There are some pastors out there who are working upwards of 60-80 hours a week, but even a 40 hour week of ministry can be exhausting. Pray that God will help your pastor to get the rest he needs and that he will sleep well.

5. Pray for his areas of pastoral weakness.
Some pastors are really good at preaching but are poor administrators. Some are great at marriage counseling but stink at hospital visits. Pray that God will strengthen your pastor in his areas of ministerial weakness, whatever those might be.

6. Pray for wisdom in difficult church circumstances.
The roof of the sanctuary was damaged in the storm and the church can’t afford to have it fixed. A couple everyone thought was married turns out to be living together and needs to be confronted about their sin. Even if it’s something you don’t know about, your pastor is probably dealing with some sort of difficult church situation. Pray that God will give him the wisdom to make the best and most godly decisions possible and carry them out in a biblical way.

7. Pray for his personal walk with the Lord.
Does your pastor have time to get alone with the Lord for his personal relationship with Christ? Maybe he’s struggling against a particular sin or striving to be more committed to prayer. Pray that God will grow your pastor in Christ as an individual.

8. Pray for his joy.
Hebrews 13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” It does the church no good to have a pastor who groans at dealing with his sheep because they’re stiff-necked and contrary. Pray that God will make your pastor’s job a joy by praying for the spiritual health and submission of your church.

9. Pray for your pastor’s family relationships.
Before he’s your pastor, he’s her son, her husband, their brother, their father. Pray that God would help your pastor have the time he needs to spend with his family, and to be a godly husband, father, and loved one.

10. Pray about how you can help your pastor.
Pastors have a lot on their shoulders. Is there any way you could take something off your pastor’s plate and allow him to focus on the things only he can do? Could you fix that leaky toilet, teach that class, fill that volunteer slot, counsel that sister, vet that proposed small group study? Could you at least offer him a word of encouragement on a regular basis? Ask God to show you ways you can help out your pastor.

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Our pastors need our prayers.
What are some other ways we can pray for them?

Throwback Thursday ~ Abiding in the Vine

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Originally published July 30, 2015

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Ah, the good old summertime! Which, sadly, is rapidly drawing to a close. Summertime brings with it a lot of simple pleasures- a more relaxed schedule, vacations, family reunions, pool parties, and barbecues. But one of the simplest pleasures my husband and I enjoy during the summer is stopping at produce stands to stock up on locally grown fruits and veggies.

In our area, farmers often just fill up the beds of their pick up trucks with watermelons, okra, tomatoes, peaches, or whatever they grow, park on the side of a well-traveled road and sell their wares. As small business owners ourselves, my husband and I like to support other small business owners, plus there’s just something about eating produce that was freshly picked down the road this morning rather than shipped in from across the country a week ago.

Recently, my husband was on his way home from work and ran across a farmer selling cantaloupes. The farmer made him a good deal, so he brought home three of them. Now, my husband loves cantaloupe, but, unfortunately, he forgot that he’s the only one in the family who does. And these were big cantaloupes.

I cut up the first one for him and he finished it in a few days. By the next week he had finished the second one. But by the time I went to cut up the third one for him, there was a soft, mushy spot about the size of a dollar bill along one side.

Nothing untoward had happened to this cantaloupe. It hadn’t been dropped, knocked around, or exposed to extremes of temperature or moisture. The only thing wrong with this cantaloupe was that it had been cut from the vine it was growing on quite some time ago. And the moment it was severed, it started dying.

As I carefully cut away the spoiled area to salvage the rest of the fruit, I was reminded of what Jesus said in John 15:4-6:

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In the first half of John 15, Jesus talks a lot about vines and branches and fruit. The main application of this passage is that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The living, fruit-bearing branches are those who have truly been born again. The dried up branches who don’t bear fruit are people who appear to be or claim to be Christians, but aren’t actually saved. But there’s a second layer to this story for those who are genuinely regenerate Christians: obedience. Walking with the Lord day by day and producing healthy fruit.

I looked over at the little stump of cantaloupe branch I had cut off and thrown away. Because it hadn’t been abiding in the main vine, it had dried up. It was no longer bearing new fruit nor was it carrying nutrients from the vine to its already existing fruit, namely, the cantaloupe sitting on my counter, turning to mush.

The same thing happens to Christians when we disobey God by neglecting our relationship with Him. When we go days without picking up our Bibles or praying or gathering for worship with other Believers, we begin to dry out and shrivel up, spiritually. There’s no biblical nutrition flowing from Christ through us, so we’re not bearing any new fruit, and any already existing fruit we’ve produced starts showing signs of rot.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:

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I don’t know about you, but when I’ve skipped my Bible study and prayer time for even a few days, I can tell that I’m not bearing any new spiritual fruit and that I’m less patient, less loving, less self-controlled- more rotten in all of these areas than I normally am. I can tell if my husband is neglecting his time with the Lord, and when my children aren’t having their daily quiet times. I’m surrounded by slowly rotting fruit.

As daughters of Christ, it is imperative that we receive the nourishment He has provided for us in His word, in prayer, through the church, and through obedience to Him so that we can bear good, strong, growing fruit. Because the longer we walk through life at a distance from Christ, the rottener we’ll become. Just ask a cantaloupe.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.

Colossians: Lesson 3

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Colossians 1:15-29

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you,the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.


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


Questions to Consider:

1. At the end of lesson 2 (link above), we saw that Paul gave a brief recap of the gospel (13-14). How was that a good introduction to the passage we’re looking at today? What is the overall theme of today’s passage?

2. Jehovah’s Witnesses use verse 15 to support their idea that Christ was a created (non-eternal) being. Is that what this verse means? What sort of ideas would the term “firstborn” have brought to the minds of first century Jews (and even gentiles)? Verse 15 says that Christ is the firstborn of all creation. Verse 18 says that He is the firstborn from the dead. How do these two positions of Christ “bookend” His supremacy over every aspect of the universe?

3. List the specific roles Christ plays in creation in verses 15-17. Why would it have been important for Paul to emphasize Christ’s role in creation? What did this (as well as verse 19) indicate to his audience about Christ’s deity and His relationship with God the Father?

4. As previous verses emphasized Christ’s deity, what are the references to His humanity in verses 19 and 22? Part of the heresy that was creeping into the Colossian church was gnosticism. How would the proper Christology Paul was trying to teach them – including Christ being 100% God and 100% man simultaneously (the hypostatic union) – combat that heresy? Why is it important that we, as Christians, believe that Christ was both fully God and fully man? How would it affect Christ’s work on the cross if he had been less than God or less than human? How might understanding the hypostatic union better help you to love Christ more?

5. What do verses 24-29 tell us about Paul’s relationship with and care fo the Colossian church? What was his goal for this church? (28-29) Is this the goal of the leadership at your church? How can verse 28 guide us as we seek to make disciples today? Do we put the same effort and energy into discipleship that Paul did? (29)


Homework:

Read back through the tenets of gnosticism (link in #4). Are there any sort of gnostic beliefs in the church today? Write down some ways biblical Christology (the study of who Christ is, what He did, and why) could combat these false beliefs.

Pastoral Propriety with Church Ladies, and 7 Ways Women Can Help

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Yesterday, I read a fantastic article for pastors entitled The Pastor and Inappropriate Interactions with Women in the Church. (I’ll give you the gist of it, but it’d be better if you would take a second and read it. It’s not long. I’ll wait.) It’s not about pastors having affairs, it’s about inappropriate interactions with women at church: full frontal hugs, emotionally intimate conversations, and such.

I thought it was great advice to pastors, and, while the onus really is on pastors themselves to make sure their behavior toward women in the church is appropriate, there’s no reason women have to make it difficult for them, right? So what can we ladies do to help out our pastors and other brothers at church?

1. Oh, man. Remeber that pastors and Christian brothers are men. No matter how godly they are, they’re subject to all the same temptations as other men, including temptations to lust, touch inappropriately, and even commit adultery. Don’t be lulled into some idyllic complacency that your pastor doesn’t struggle in this area and you don’t have to mind your P’s and Q’s.

2. Trade hugs for handshakes. Maybe you’re just a huggy person in general. You probably don’t mean anything more by hugging a man at church than you do by hugging a woman. But what might it mean or feel like to the man you’re hugging? Maybe that’s something he struggles with. How about offerning a handshake or a pat on the shoulder instead?

3. What Not to Wear. Dress modestly. Yeah, I went there. I’m not going to get into inches of skirt length and all that, just serve your brothers by keeping the girls and the gams sufficiently under wraps. If in doubt, wear something else. If you look like you’re going clubbing instead of to church, wear something else. If it would be too tight or revealing to wear to a funeral without people talking behind your back, wear something else. Sometimes your husband, father, or brother can offer a helpful opinion. They have more experience at looking through a man’s eyes and thinking with a man’s brain than you do.

4. (Don’t) Call me on the line. Don’t exchange personal or numerous phone calls, e-mails, texts, or private social media messages with men. Brief, businesslike, back and forths when absolutely necessary due to mutual projects, meetings, etc., at church are fine, but even those can grow into something inappropriate if you’re not careful.

5. Flirty is for floozies. There’s a fine line between friendly and flirtatious. Locate it and stay on the right side of it.

6. None on one. Do not, under any circumstances, meet alone behind closed doors with your pastor or any other man. That includes your pastor’s office, and it includes pastoral counseling. If he doesn’t insist on another person being present or leaving the door of his office open to a common area where others are around, then you insist on it. Don’t meet in public (a coffee shop, restaurant, etc.) alone with your pastor or any other man, either. That looks like a date to most people.

7. The welcome mat chat. Don’t enter a man’s home if his wife isn’t there, and don’t invite a man inside if your husband isn’t home. Maybe you and the pastor’s wife are friends. You’re out running errands and happen to find yourself in her neighborhood, so you drop by to say hello. It turns out she isn’t home, but her husband is. Keep it to a brief exchange of pleasantries on the porch and go finish your errands. You never know who might be passing by seeing your car in the driveway, but not the pastor’s wife’s car.

Those are just a few of the thoughts I had about some safeguards and precautions we can take to help out our pastors and Christian brothers as well as protect our own hearts and reputations. What say you, ladies (and gentlemen- want to give us the benefit of your experience and wisdom?)? Any other ideas?

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

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How do I approach my women’s ministry leader, elders, or pastor about the false teacher whose materials our church is using, whose conference our church members are attending, etc.?

I’ve received this same basic question from scads of readers over the past few weeks. It’s alarming when your women’s ministry leader picks a Lysa TerKeurst book for the next women’s “Bible” study or the elders promote Steven Furtick’s latest conference. You love your church and don’t want to see people deceived, but you also know that people don’t often respond well to hearing that the Christian celebrity they’re enamored with is a false teacher. What to do? How can we alert our leaders to the theological problems with a popular Christian personality?

1. Pray
I’m gonna beat this drum ’til the cows come home, because this is a concept we have got to get through our heads. God knows and loves your leaders and your church infinitely more than you do, and He is far more able to do something about the situation than you are, because He is able to change your leaders’ hearts and minds and open their eyes (which is usually what’s needed). You are not. Furthermore, He wants you to depend on Him to handle things rather than depending on evidence, your own persuasiveness, etc. You should already be praying regularly for your church and its leadership. When a situation like this comes up, pray long, hard, and continuously.

2. Remember why you’re approaching your leadership.
If you’re going at this from a “they’re wrong, I’m right” perspective or some sort of desire to “win” at this conflict, you need to repent. This isn’t about you. This is about the supremacy of God’s word, the purity of His Bride, and the exaltation of His reputation. This is about loving your church so much that you’re willing to risk rejection and humiliation so that they won’t be deceived.

3. Memorize and meditate on these verses and use them as your guide when approaching anyone about false teachers/doctrine:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26

Remember, you’re the Lord’s servant, not some hot shot discernment Big Man on Campus.

Are you quarrelsome? Kind? Able to teach? Patient enough to endure evil? Able to correct with gentleness? That’s a good checklist for your heart and abilities.

Who’s going to grant repentance to the person you’re dealing with so she might come to a knowledge of the truth? You? Nope. God is.

Who’s the bad guy here? Is it the person you’re approaching? No. It’s the devil. He’s holding that person prisoner to deception. You’re not approaching an enemy to conquer. You’re rescuing a captive with spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.

4. Approach

a) Who should approach this leader?
Are you the best person for the job? Are there other willing and discerning church members who might be able to handle the situation better than you can? Sometimes you’re the only person for the job. In that case, ladies, remember your role in the church and at home. Be sure you’re submitting to your husband’s leadership in this situation.

If the person you’re approaching is the (female) leader of the women’s ministry, Bible study class, conference coordinator, etc., it might be best if you go to her alone or with another discerning sister. It is usually best to approach this person first before going over her head to the elders or pastor. You want to win your sister over to the truth, if possible, not simply force her to change things because a superior tells her she has to.

If the person who needs to be approached is male, it might be best for your husband (or another discerning brother) to meet with him, or for you and your husband to meet with him together, with your husband taking the lead and you in a supporting role. Again, it’s usually best to approach the lower level leader, if any, before going over his head.

b) How should you approach this leader?
In humility, love, and all the other characteristics from the 2 Timothy 2 passage. And keep a few other things in mind too:

First, give the person the benefit of the doubt that she’s got good motives. She probably thinks the study she’s selected would help the women of your church or that the conference would lead them closer to the Lord. It’s usually not the case that the person is consciously trying to introduce anti-biblical material.

Second, keep ignorance at the forefront of your mind. Most people in the church today – even pastors – are completely unaware of the extent of false doctrine, or even what false doctrine is, or that the majority of the most popular Christian celebrities are false teachers. They think if you can buy it at LifeWay or if it calls itself Christian and sprinkles a few Bible verses around, it must be biblical Christianity. You must initially approach people with the mindset that they’re trying to do something good, but they they simply aren’t aware of the false doctrine that’s out there or that the person they’re introducing to the church is a false teacher. (This is where “able to teach” and “correcting with gentleness” come in).

Next, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and keep in mind that it’s hard to hear that a Christian celebrity you love is a false teacher. Give the person time to sort out all this new, and sometimes overwhelming, information.

Finally, be prepared for backlash. No matter how kind, gentle, and objective you are, the person may feel personally attacked and lash out at you. Don’t lash back. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile.

c) With what should you approach this leader?
The Bible and credible evidence. For every charge you bring against this false teacher, you need to bring credible audio, video, or print evidence of the teacher’s own words or actions and the Bible passages she is violating. Don’t bring opinions, histrionics, unsubstantiated rumors, or out of context remarks by the false teacher. Bring solid, objective, incontrovertible evidence.

Don’t overwhelm the person you’re approaching with reams of material to read or long videos to watch. She might see how time consuming it will be and give up before going through any of it. Keep things concise.

Don’t attempt to address every wrong word, action, or teaching ever perpetrated by the false teacher. Go with a few of the most attention-grabbing, glaring, violations of Scripture.

Make sure your evidence is up to date. Focus on the false teacher’s most recent violations of Scripture, not something from 20 years ago that she has repented of (in which case you shouldn’t be bringing a charge) or backed away from. Recent evidence is also more compelling.

d) How should you leave things?
Reassure the person of your love for her and for the church. Ask if she has any questions, and make sure she has your contact information and knows she’s welcome to get in touch if she has questions or needs more information. If she’s open to it, make some suggestions of doctrinally sound materials, conferences, etc., that could be used. Don’t expect an immediate resolution to the situation. Give the person some time to think and pray things through and to go over the evidence you’ve provided. It might be appropriate to ask if you can touch base with her again in a few days.

Doing all of these things is not a magic formula that will guarantee the results you’re hoping for. In fact, going by the e-mails and messages I’ve received, I would estimate that about 90% of the time, you’ll be ignored or villified as a hater or divisive.

Do it anyway. God may have placed you in that church to help it correct its course or to serve as a biblical warning to them. And, who knows? You might just rescue somebody.


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, 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.

Evangelical Misogyny and the Spiritual Oppression of Christian Women

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background-1434679_1280Weak women- always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Captives to false teachers. Led astray by their feelings. There is hardly a better way to describe a significant portion – dare I say, the majority – of evangelical women today.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Satan dresses himself up like a Christian and deceives as many as he can. Women (and men, too) give in to the temptation to seek out false teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Pastors fail to fight off, and in many cases, welcome with open arms, the false doctrine and false teachers creeping into their churches.  And the false teachers themselves are out to make a fast buck on false doctrine.

And the result of it all is a generation of evangelical women held prisoner by Satan in the gilded cage of biblical illiteracy and feel-good “Christianity.” And most of them don’t even know they’re inmates.

It’s bad enough that evangelical women are largely feeding their souls on the anti-biblical poison churned out by the smorgasbord of divangelistas lining the shelves of most “Christian” bookstores- poison that, at worst, will leave them doomed to an eternity in hell, and, at best, will stunt their growth in Christ. But there’s another insidious aspect of this issue: theololgical misogyny against evangelical women.

The Bible knows nothing of women as second class citizens. Throughout recorded history, God, and his obedient children, have been the ones to regard women as precious and valuable people with a crucial role to play in the Kingdom, the family, and society. God elevates women while the world degrades us.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is in an often overlooked phrase in 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn.” The pastors and elders of the first century church – in the midst of a culture that devalued and disregarded women – were to proactively make sure women learned the gospel and sound doctrine. The Holy Spirit goes on in that passage to explain how first century, as well as twenty-first century, women should conduct themselves in a godly way while we’re learning, but there’s no watered down, Barbie doll, “pink is for girls” version of theology that women are to be taught while the real thing – serious Bible study and theology – is reserved for men.

Yet that’s exactly what modern day evangelicalism and Christian retailing are doing. They’re establishing a subtle theological segregation in the name of marketing and meeting felt needs. How? Here’s just one example:

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This post, from a major Christian retailer, appeared in my Facebook feed recently. They’re holding “Bible art journaling” workshops to teach women how to color in their Bibles- something we usually teach three year olds not to do.

When was the last time you heard of a Christian retailer or an average evangelical church holding a worshop – aimed at women – on biblical hermeneutics, Christology, pneumatology, church history, discernment, evangelism, or any other serious biblical topic?

Never mind how to properly handle and study God’s word, ladies, here’s a coloring book*! It’s insulting to the intelligence, capabilities, and quest for spiritual maturity of Christian women. And it’s sexist, too. Don’t believe me? Think about it:

How many Christian men do you see taking Bible art journaling classes or sharing about it on social media?

Have you ever seen a men’s ministry share a picture like this in order to reassure men of how special and wonderful they are?

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Over the summer, the hot fad aimed at women was using henna to tell Bible stories. How many men do you think participated in that?

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Contemporary Christian radio intentionally markets to a specific female demographic, resulting in a playlist that’s overwhelmingly comprised of ooey-gooey, salve my feelings, emasculated songs. That’s their perspective of us. That’s what they think we want and can handle.

And it doesn’t stop there. Walk into your local Christian retailer and compare the fluff and false doctrine in the women’s ghetto department to what’s offered in the general (or men’s) area of the store. Christian retailing has been so successful with their marketing plans that they have fairly brainwashed evangelical women into thinking that:

  • only what’s in the women’s section of the store is for them
  • serious theology isn’t for them (because it’s nowhere to be found in the women’s department)
  • women can’t just pick up the Bible and study it for themselves – they have to buy a “canned” study written by someone else
  • that “someone else” has to be a woman (nearly always a woman who teaches false doctrine)

Take all of that, throw it into your gumbo pot, stir it around a little, and what do you get?

Well…you get weak women who are captivated by false teachers and false doctrine, led astray from the truth of God’s word by their passions and emotions, flitting from study to study and event to event, always “learning” but ever biblically ignorant. And you get a church that not only views Christian women this way, but perpetuates this sexist spiritual oppression.

Christian women, you are better, more valuable, and more capable than that. God has more for you and expects more from you than sitting in a corner coloring in your Bible and playing with a theological Barbie Dream House. Like your first century sisters, He wants you to learn.

Strive for more than evangelicalism expects from you and thinks you’re capable of, ladies. Be a strong, healthy student of God’s word. There are women out there who desperately need you: lost women who need to hear the gospel properly presented so they might know Christ, saved women who need someone to teach them the truth of God’s word, women who need biblical hope, comfort, and answers about the trials they’re going through.

Buck the system. Challenge the assumptions. Cast off the shackles, and refuse to be that weak woman any more. Be the full grown, spiritually mature woman God has always wanted you to be.


*Some women are artistically talented and enjoy Bible art journaling as a hobby in their spare time. If that’s you, and you’re already a serious student of God’s word, knock yourself out. But if the majority of your Bible “study” time is spent painting or coloring in your Bible, then this might be a tight, uncomfortable shoe, but the shoe fits.

Throwback Thursday ~ A Recipe for Success

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Originally published June 19, 2014

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As you’ve probably noticed from some of my posts, I recently started blogging for the fantastic Christian women’s blog, Satisfaction Through Christ. It has stretched me as a writer and opened an article door I’d never considered knocking on before: writing recipes. And I love it! I like to cook and experiment with different foods and techniques. I like to collect existing recipes and tweak them until the’re my own. And sharing that with others is just plain fun!

Not long ago, I posted a recipe for cinnamon rolls that got a great response, social media-wise. People shared it on Facebook and Pinterest, the article itself got several comments, and it was even the most viewed post of the week on another blog that linked to it. It was awesome, and I’m so grateful to everybody who shared it.

But it got me thinking.

That recipe got tons more attention from Christian women than anything else I’ve ever written about the Bible, salvation, or any other gospel-centered topic. In fact, recipes, memes and viral videos comprise a lot of what comes across my news feed. God’s word? Not so much. And, as a Christian woman, I had to stop and ask myself a question:

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Reading and collecting (and, for me, writing) recipes is fun, and can help me serve my family, friends, and church better when I cook for them. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it, and I’m planning to continue doing so (watch for my next recipe coming out in late July on STC!).

But how much time am I investing in things like reading and sharing recipes or playing Facebook games or watching TV or reading novels or any of the thousands of things we do every day that take up time but have no eternal significance? None of those things draw me closer to the Lord or train my children in godliness or feed my marriage or evangelize and disciple others or build up the body of Christ.

Am I spending too much time on fluff and not enough on the things that really matter?

We all need some down time. God made that clear when He set aside the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship back in Exodus 20:8-11. He doesn’t prohibit relaxation, He commands it and calls it good. But God’s ratio of work to rest is six to one. One day of rest for every six days of work. And as with so many of God’s other good gifts–food, money, fun, fellowship–my sinful flesh will knock things completely out of proportion in order to gratify itself.

My cinnamon rolls are phenomenal (just sayin’!) but only as an occasional treat. If they constituted a major part of my regular diet, I’d be very unhealthy. It’s the same way with what I feed my spirit. If I’m constantly feeding on mental and spiritual junk food, I’ll be a very unhealthy Christian. I won’t have the time or the desire to exercise by serving God and those around me. Worse, I won’t have an appetite for what is supposed to be the staple of my diet: the Bread of Life– Christ. But if I keep Christ as my main dish and all of my side dishes, snacks, and desserts in healthy proportion to Him, I’ll be fit and ready to take up my cross daily and follow Him.

And that’s a recipe for success, in God’s eyes.


Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls:

Who doesn’t love a lazy Saturday morning? It’s a great day to lounge around in your jammies with the family and enjoy a relaxing breakfast together. These cinnamon rolls are a hit with my kids. They ask me to make them nearly every weekend. The great thing about them is that they don’t take very long to make and they also freeze well, so you can make them Saturday morning or in advance.

Ingredients:
4 c. baking mix (eg: Bisquick)
1 1/4 c. milk
2 T. mayonnaise (Optional, but I’ve found that the rolls are much drier without it, especially when using skim, 1%, or 2% milk. If you leave it out, increase the milk to 1 1/3 cups.)
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
cinnamon
Icing (see below)
Yield: approximately 18 rolls

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine baking mix, milk, and mayonnaise to make a soft dough. Dust your counter top (don’t forget to clean it first!) or pastry mat with baking mix and knead the dough for about a minute. (If you don’t have a timer but do have more than one child, just time it from when Child A wanders into the kitchen and asks, “What’s for breakfast?” to when Child B walks in and asks the exact same question. That’ll be about a minute.) Roll the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 14″ x 18″.

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With a rubber spatula, spread a generous layer (more than you’d use to butter toast, but less than you’d use to frost a cupcake) of softened butter over the dough, being sure to go all the way to the edges. Crumble the brown sugar over the butter spreading it as evenly as you can (it may take a little more or less than 3/4 cup), and sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar.

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Starting with one of the longer sides, roll the dough up, jelly roll style.

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(If you want to freeze the dough this is one good place to do it, especially if you don’t have much freezer space. Wrap the rolled up dough well in plastic wrap, or cut in half or thirds to put in gallon sized freezer bags.)

Slice the roll into pieces that are 3/4″ to 1″ wide.

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These things will come out of the oven absolutely cemented to your baking sheet, so grease it up any which way you can. I’d recommend spraying a non-stick pan with cooking spray, putting about 72 layers of parchment paper on top of that, and then spraying the whole thing again. Seriously, they are VERY sticky, so spray your pan really well or use parchment paper. Lay each piece flat on the baking sheet and bake until the edges start turning brown (about 10-15 minutes).

(Here’s another spot where you can freeze the dough if you have room for a baking sheet to sit flat in your freezer. Instead of baking, just cover the unbaked rolls on the baking sheet with aluminum foil and freeze.)

While the rolls are cooling slightly on the pan, make the icing. (If you put the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven, it will melt and run all over the place.) Depending on how many rolls you ended up with and how much icing you like, you might need more than one batch.

Ingredients:
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1/2 t. vanilla

hot water

Whisk all ingredients together except for the water. Add the hot water a few drops to a teaspoon at a time to bring the icing to a stiff but spreadable consistency. If you don’t mind the extra calories (Hey, we’re already at about a scrillion of them– will a few more really matter?), soften up about half a block of cream cheese and beat that in there, too. (You’ll probably need to add more sugar and a little more hot water if you do.)

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Spread the icing over the top of the rolls. (If you have any left over, just spoon it into a freezer bag or container and freeze for next time.)

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Chisel them off the pan, and enjoy!

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THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.

Colossians: Lesson 2

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Previous Lessons: 1

Colossians 1:1-14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


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


Questions to Consider:

1. Who wrote this epistle? (1) To whom was it written? (2) Who was Epaphras, and what was his connection to the church at Colossae? (7) You may wish to go back to lesson 1 (link above) and review just a bit.

2. How would you classify the first two verses of this chapter? (instruction, rebuke, greeting, worship, etc.?) List the characteristics of the Colossian church that have been reported to Paul. (4, 6, 8) Do these things describe your church? Does Paul seem to regard this church as one that is overtly rebellious, worldly, or sinful? Describe Paul’s overall tone in this passage.

3. In verse 3, what two things does Paul say “we” (he, Timothy, and possibly others) do regarding the Colossian church? List and define the five things Paul says they pray for the Colossian church. (9-10) Do you pray similar things for your own church and for yourself? Why was it important for Paul and Timothy to pray for the Colossian church? Why is it important for you to pray for your own church? Take a moment now to pray through these five requests for your church and yourself.

4. What did we learn in lesson 1 about the situation of the Colossian church that would lead Paul to wish the Holy Spirit to empower them (11) to endure, have patience, have joy, and give thanks? (11-12) How are these characteristics important to your church, and the church at large, today?

5. In verses 13-14, Paul gives a mini-recap of the gospel. Explain in your own words what Paul is saying in these two verses. What does it mean in verse 12 that God has “qualified” the Colossian Christians to “share in the inheritance of the saints”? What is that inheritance, and how did God qualify them? How does this apply to Christians today? Peeking ahead a few verses, why is this recap of the gospel a good precursor to the topic Paul is about to introduce?


Homework:

Think about your church’s unique needs in light of the five things Paul prayed for the Colossian church. Make a list of some specific ways you can pray that your church will be “filled with the knowledge of His will,” “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” etc., and include these during your daily prayer time this week.

Two Miscellaneous Resources

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I don’t write book reviews. I don’t write book reviews. I don’t write book reviews. Oh, and did I mention-
I don’t write book reviews.

Writing a book review, especially when you have a relationship with the author, is kind of like a friend showing you her new baby and saying, “Isn’t she cute?” Fortunately, I happen to think all babies are cute, but…with books, not so much. And the last thing I want to have to do is tell a friend, or even a stranger, that her book has a face only a mother could love. I’m an author. I know what it’s like to hear that. It’s no bueno.

Additionally, although I love to read, I have very little time to do so, and unsolicited books would stack up and probably be out of print before I could get around to reading and reviewing them. So, while I’m honored and humbled that anybody out there might want my opinion on her book, my plate is full and there’s no space for book reviews right now.

That said, I’ve recently come across two books that I’d like to tell you a little bit about.

41pFLQymyqL._SY346_Stepping Stone: Finding Life and Love in a Foreign Land by Stacy Dyck

If you have a phenomenal memory, you might recall that Stacy wrote an awesome guest post for me a while back called What Can I Do About the Refugees? After eleven years on the mission field, Stacy and her family have recently come back to the United States. Stepping Stone is Stacy’s first book, and recounts her foray into missions as a young, single missionary in Hungary.

I’ve read books and articles about missionaries and their experiences before. Some of them are pretty dry. Not this one. Stacy’s book reads more like a newsy e-mail from a good friend. You’ll learn about the interesting people she met in Hungary, both those who responded to the gospel and those who rejected it. You’ll get an unromanticized window into what missions work is really like, what it’s like to live in a former Communist country, and the delightful, sometimes quirky, customs, culture, and food of Hungary. (My only complaint about this book is that there are no recipes to go along with the mouth-watering dishes Stacy describes. I want that paprika chicken recipe, girl!)

Stepping Stone is a great read for anyone, but I think it could be especially helpful for young single women (and their worried parents) who are considering going into missions. It would also be a perfect fit for getting your women’s group interested in, and participating in, missions.

(Standard caveat: Please note, Stepping Stone and the article she wrote for me are the only writings of Stacy’s that I’ve examined, so this is only an endorsement of this particular book. As with anyone else, I would not endorse anything she might somewhere have said or written that conflicts with Scripture and/or my statement of faith.)

First Love: Embracing a Love that Lastsfl-3dbook2016 by Camille Cates and Sue Liljenberg

I badly wanted to give this study a full throttle endorsement. If you think it’s hard to find doctrinally sound studies for grown women, just try finding one aimed at youth aged girls.

First Love is not a Bible study, but, rather, a discipleship guide. This means it isn’t a study of a particular book or passage of the Bible, it’s more like the written version of what to teach your teenage daughter when (or before) she comes to you and says, “I’m cutting/tempted to sleep with my boyfriend/struggling with unforgiveness. What does the Bible say about that?” It is, by necessity, both topical and practical, and that’s not a bad thing.

Now, before I go any further, it should be noted that I did not read this entire 279 page (several months’ worth of lessons) study word for word. I read about the first 70 pages word for word, as well as several other sections that looked either promising or troublesome. The rest of the book, I skimmed, so there are probably a lot of things I missed. Also, this is the student book. I did not read the leader’s guide nor view or read any of the supplementary videos or suggested books, so my thoughts here are only about the parts I actually read.

There were many wonderful things about this book. The theology, for the most part (we’ll get to the other parts in a minute), is rock solid. The first unit lays the foundation with a several weeks long study of the gospel, starting with Creation and the Fall, and moving on to the cross and salvation. The remaining two units deal with sanctification issues, both biblical (prayer, forgiveness, fruit of the Spirit, etc.) and practical (sex, eating disorders, suicide, etc.) One theological aspect I especially appreciated is that a number of times throughout the course of the book, the authors made a point of saying something like, “If this sinful action/attitude/worldview characterizes your life, you need to go back and examine whether or not you’re really saved.”

There were three features of the layout of the lessons that I really liked. First, the text includes supplemental videos (free, on-line) of sermons, talks, and music to undergird what’s being taught. Next, the questions in the question and answer parts of the lesson are open ended and designed to get the reader to study Scripture and think. Finally, there is a small journaling section at the end of most lessons. This study does journaling right. The reader is asked to write what she has learned from the lesson, write a prayer, write down sins she needs to confess, etc. It’s not mystical contemplative journaling.

Unfortunately, while the theology was very good for the most part, there were several biblical problems I felt I couldn’t overlook.

First – while I felt the authors strived to ensure this book teaches sound doctrine – there were a few instances in which Scripture was mishandled. (I am confident this was not intentional, just some sloppy theology that needs to be cleaned up.) Page 79 features the classic misuse of Jeremiah 29:11, taking the verse out of context and applying it to us today instead of to Old Testament Israel. On page 141, in the section about healthy eating, we’re given the Rick Warren “Daniel Diet” explanation of why Daniel & Co. asked for vegetables and water in lieu of the king’s food (because vegetables and water were healthier, not because they were seeking to honor God by obeying Levitical law).

Perhaps most troubling was the section (p. 212-213) discussing how we can listen for God’s voice outside of Scripture. Although I would like to believe that the authors merely meant to convey that Christians are led by the Holy Spirit via Scripture He brings to mind, conviction of sin, circumstances, wisdom, etc., there are too many words and phrases, such as “listen,” “the Holy Spirit can speak to you,” “if you can only hear His voice through the written Word,” etc., to rightly understand their meaning this way. Several Scriptures, including Jeremiah 33:3, John 10, and Psalm 46:10, are taken out of context, misunderstood, mishandled, and misapplied in this section.

The second main doctrinal problem with this study is its lack of discernment about the Christian resources (both in the supplemental videos and suggested additional reading) it recommends and quotes. Now you’re not going to find Joyce Meyer’s or Benny Hinn’s or Kenneth Copeland’s names, and you will see names like John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges, and Paul Washer, but you’ll also see quotes, videos, and recommended books by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Max Lucado, the Blackabys (Experiencing God), Craig Groeschel, Francis Chan*, Mark Driscoll*, Tullian Tchividjian*, and others who are at least questionable in their doctrine and/or behavior, if not full on false teachers (*In fairness, I believe the major problems with these three may have arisen after this book was published in 2013.) I feel certain that the authors simply don’t know the doctrinal problems with these personalities nor that they needed to vet them before recommending them, but this is still a problem that needs to be corrected. What gain is it if we teach young women biblical views on sex and eating disorders yet send them into the arms of false teachers such as Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer?

Despite these two flaws, I still believe this study could be a useful tool in the hands of a teacher who is very biblically knowledgeable and discerning. I would not put the student book into the hands of impressionable young girls who don’t already know their Bibles extremely well, but a good teacher could weed out the problematic parts and use the vast majority of the rest of the material as the foundation of her own lessons.