The Mailbag: My Discernment Is Distracting Me from Worship

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Since discovering and learning more in depth about the vast amount of false teaching in the church, I now find myself questioning everything to the point that it has affected my ability to worship. We attend a very small, relatively biblically solid church, but when we sing, for example, a Hillsong song, I’m so focused on the atrocities of Hillsong that I am unable to enjoy the time of worship. How are you, with all your knowledge of current day church apostasy, able to overcome that knowledge and just enjoy all aspects of a church service? We are a body of mature believers, but even our little church isn’t perfect.

This is a dilemma a lot of us face at some point, so thanks for asking. I think the linchpin of your question – and my answer – is your last statement. Your church isn’t perfect. My church isn’t perfect. No church is perfect. It’s unreasonable to expect any church to be perfect, just like it would be unreasonable to expect your spouse or child to be perfect.

I’ve had to muddle through this question myself on more than one occasion at more than one church, and to be perfectly honest, many times I’ve done so with all the grace of an inebriated elephant on roller skates and the forbearance of an annoyed cat (or maybe just “a cat”). I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m what they used to call a “Type A” personality. Very task oriented. Workaholic-prone. High strung. When I see a problem, it’s, “Here’s the solution. Let’s implement it, like, yesterday. Get on board or get left behind. What’s next?”

Guess what I’ve learned? Most people aren’t like that. Or at least most church people aren’t. Or they aren’t like that about the same things I’m like that about. And you know what? That’s actually been good for me. God has used those situations as a tool in my sanctification, to make me more understanding, patient, and compassionate with others, just as I want them to be with me. Of course, He’s still got a long way to go with me!

So, having “been there, done that” here are a few suggestions and things to keep in mind:

✢ There’s such a thing as “cage stage” discernment. It’s when your eyes have recently been opened to false teaching/teachers, you’re drinking from the discernment fire hose, and you don’t understand why everybody isn’t as freaked out and on board as you are. Are you theologically right? Probably. Are you going to win friends and influence people with immersion therapy? Nope. There’s really nothing you can do about this phase of your life except to realize it exists and make a concerted effort to rein yourself in until you’ve mellowed a bit.

✢ Pray. I am convinced that one of the reasons God puts discerning people into churches that need a little (or a lot) sharpening in the area of discernment is for those discerning people to be warring on their knees every day for their churches, their pastors, their teachers. God can do more to straighten out the problems at your church than any human action can, because only God is able to change people’s hearts. You start praying fervently, and I guarantee you, over time, you’ll see God working in your church.

✢ Immerse yourself in the Word. If you know your Bible forwards and backwards, you’re not going to question every word your pastor says, or every page of that book your reading, or every lyric of every song because God’s Word will be “hidden in your heart,” and you’ll know whether what you’re hearing is biblical or not. 

✢ If you’re married, discuss the issue(s) with your husband and make sure you’re submitting to his leadership. Likewise, if you’re a minor child living under your parents’ authority.

✢ Understand the nature of the average church member/pastor/staff at the average, reasonably doctrinally sound church. They’re just like you were before you found out about discernment. They’re not trying to introduce heretical materials into your church. They don’t want to follow false teachers. They simply don’t know any better. It has never occurred to them that something that labels itself “Christian” might not be biblical Christianity, because they’ve never been taught this. Should every Christian know these things and have at least a modicum of discernment? Yes. But we have to deal with things the way they are, not the way they should be.

✢ Meditate on and memorize this passage (and any others that are helpful to you about your situation):

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

This passage has been extremely helpful to me to remember not only how we do discernment work, but why we do it. We must be patient and compassionate. We’re attempting to rescue people with spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.

✢ Take action wisely, kindly, and patiently. Of all the things that are distressing you discernment-wise at your church, which one is the one that distracts you most or is most urgently in need of being addressed? Devote some serious time to praying about it, praying for all the people involved, and praying that God will make your heart Christlike about it: weeks, at a minimum. Maybe months. God may resolve the situation without you having to do anything about it.

As you’re praying there may be some participation adjustments you might wish to consider. For example, if the problem at your church was that the women’s ministry was constantly using “Bible” study materials authored by false teachers, you might adjust your behavior this way. If you cannot sing the Hillsong songs in good conscience, just stand (or sit) silently and respectfully with the rest of the congregation until the song is over. Due to a series of various circumstances a while back, my church had a female interim music director for several months. I could not, in good conscience, affirm that decision by my participation, so I did not participate in the music portion of the worship service during her tenure. I stood silently and respectfully and used that time to pray for her, my pastor, my church, and our future minister of music.

But if things don’t improve or seem to get worse, someone may need to talk to the person at the center of the problem. This article may be helpful in that eventuality.

✢✢✢✢✢

Discernment can be a difficult gift to grapple with. Stay on your knees, stay in the Word, and Christ will carry you through.


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.

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Stricter Judgment, Even for MY Favorite Teacher

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It’s a funny thing that it’s so easy for us to see the far away faults and foibles of others, but the ones in our own hearts – the sins and hypocrisy we know most intimately – are constantly in our spiritual blind spot. Jesus understood this all too well and admonished us to make sure our own hands are clean before taking the tweezers to the mote in a sister’s eye.

Often, it’s not that we’re ignoring the plank that’s obscuring our vision, we’re just not even aware that it’s there. When I evaluate my own heart to confess my sins to the Lord, the ones that weigh heaviest on my spirit are not those that I know I’ve committed and need to repent of, it’s the ones I’m sure are lurking somewhere… but I can’t quite put my finger on them.

One of the subtle hypocrisies theologically orthodox, blameless and upright, discerning Christians can have trouble seeing in ourselves is our failure to hold our favorite pastors and teachers to the same biblical standards we apply to other pastors and teachers.

We correctly criticize Steven Furtick and Beth Moore for palling around with the likes of Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes, but when Lauren Chandler speaks at IF:Gathering several years in a row, co-hosts a summer Bible study with Beth Moore, and publicly declares her desire to meet Christine Caine¹, suddenly, it’s “touch not mine anointed” just because she’s married to our darling Matt?

What if John MacArthur decided it would be a good idea to invite Joel Osteen to speak at ShepCon next year?

Or R.C. Sproul annually celebrated Reformation Day by getting snockered at a local pub?

Or you found out Alistair Begg’s style of “shepherding” was to intimidate his staff and church members through outbursts of rage?

Would you make excuses for them? Sweep this stuff under the rug and continue to listen to their sermons and read their books without batting an eye?

Pastors and teachers don’t get a pass on sin just because they’re Reformed, or discerning, or have a virtually unblemished record of doctrinal soundness, or because they’re “one of the good guys.” If they’re called to account, and they repent and strive toward holiness, hallelujah! That’s what God requires of all Christians – that we walk before Him blamelessly and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. But if they unrepentantly persist in sin despite biblical correction, there’s a problem there- with their own hearts, and with ours, if we knowingly turn a blind eye to their willful disobedience just because they’re our favorites.

God makes it clear throughout His Word that pastors, teachers, and others in positions of spiritual leadership bear a grave responsibility to set a godly example for those who look to them for teaching and guidance. And, in certain ways, God requires a higher standard for those in spiritual leadership than He requires of Christians He has not called to lead.

…No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them…
Leviticus 21

…And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the Lord has kindled. And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses…
Leviticus 10:1-11

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Titus 2:7-8

not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:3

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 3:17

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Luke 12:45-48

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 
Romans 2:21-23

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 
James 3:1

As the passages above allude to, sound doctrine, while crucial, is not God’s only requirement for pastors and teachers. They are also required to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine (not befriend them or join them on the conference dais). And Paul outlines the numerous behavioral requirements for pastors, elders, and deacons not once but twice, even going so far as to say that deacons must “prove themselves blameless” and that “an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” Right theology does not excuse wrong behavior.

Why, then, when God’s standards for those who lead are so high, are we quick to sweep aside unrepentant wrongdoing by the teachers we hold most dear, sometimes even holding them to lower standards than we would hold ourselves? “I would never preach to men, but I’ll give Teacher X a pass on it.” “There’s no way I’d partner with a false teacher, but it’s not a big deal that Preacher Y does it.”

The Jesus who says “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” who says that even one sin is one sin too many, is not a God who is OK with His people glossing over disobedience. God wants sin dealt with, repented of, and forsaken, especially in those who lead, because receiving correction and repenting of sin sets a rare and phenomenal biblical example for Christians to follow.

Do we go off the deep end and reject a trustworthy teacher the first time she does something a little iffy? Of course not. But should we step back, keep a closer, more objective eye on her and her trajectory as time goes by to see if she corrects her course? Yes. Should we stop following her if she continues to dive deeper and deeper into sin with no signs of turning around? Even if she’s always been doctrinally sound? Even if she’s complementarian? Even if she attends a church with a good theological reputation? Even if we’ve enjoyed all of her books thus far? Definitely.

Let’s shed some light on those blind spots our favorite teachers occupy and let our highest loyalty be to Christ, His Word, and His standards for leadership.


¹Information on these and other false teachers can be found at the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page.

Throwback Thursday ~ You’d Probably Have to be a Southern Baptist to Understand: The Budget Business Meeting Edition

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Originally published May 6, 2012
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What people like me (if there are any) think about during the budget/finance portion of the church business meeting:

1. Lord, thank you so much for the smart and trustworthy people at my church who understand and handle our budget and finances.

2. I wonder how many pizzas that $30,000 they’re talking about would buy. I’m starving.

3. How many bake sales would we have to hold to keep the lights on if I were in charge of the budget? Mmmmm….cupcakes…I’m STARVING!

4. Uh oh, while I was thinking about bake sales, they called for the vote. Are we voting on the motion, or the amendment to the motion, or to table the motion? Wait, what WAS the motion?

5. Come on, baby, do the locomotion…

6. I wonder if anyone can tell that this budget report would make just as much sense to me if it were written in Chinese.

7. Mmmm…Chinese…

8. I’m going to raise my hand and make a motion that we order in some Chinese food and “table” it. HAHAHAHAHA! That would be so funny! Ok, maybe it would only be funny to me. Everyone else in the room seems to be an adult.

9. WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS?????

10. Why do I understand the motion LESS now that the discussion on it is over than I did when it was first proposed?

11. If you got the notion, I second that emotion…

12. If I volunteered to write a check for whatever it is they’re talking about, could we move on to something more interesting? Like, maybe: would a church member who writes a rather large check to divert a business meeting necessarily be excommunicated if it bounced? Or, how about the ever scintillating topic of ORDERING SOME DOGGONE CHINESE FOOD FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?

13. . …motion…potion…ocean…lotion…Goshen (5 extra points for a Bible word!)…notion…ummm…coastal erosion…

14. Interesting. The word “fund” starts with FUN. I’m not feeling any fun happening here. Anyone else? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

15. Bueller…Bueller…rhymes with Muller….George Muller (where’s the dumb umlaut on this keyboard?!?!)…yeah, George Muller, the guy who prayed for everything he needed and God just provided…I wonder how many business meetings HE had to go to….

16. I should start making notes for the blog post I’m going to write about this when I get home. Why didn’t I think about that two hours ago!?!?

17. Are we STILL talking about this???

18. I wonder if it’s too soon to make a motion to adjourn. I wonder if someone else will do it soon. I wonder if I’m going to have to do it. I wonder if I’m the only one wondering this.

19. If ONE MORE PERSON makes a motion from the floor, I’m going to give myself a fatal paper cut with this ream of reports and spreadsheets they gave me when I walked in.

20. Lord, thank you so much for the smart and trustworthy people at my church who understand and handle our budget and finances.

 

“I move we adjourn.”

 

SECOND!

Mark: Lesson 20

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Mark 14:1-26

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him,14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.


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


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 16 (link above) for the timing of chapter 14. During what time period or “era” of Jesus’ life did the events of chapter 14 take place?

2. Examine verses 1-2. What was the Passover? The Feast of Unleavened Bread? Many aspects of the Passover are types or foreshadowings of the events of Mark 14-16. Is that simply a coincidence? Click the above hyperlink (Exodus 12). How do each of the items below point ahead to Christ and His crucifixion?

♦The male lamb without blemish (3-5, see also)
♦”The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight” (6, see also)
♦The blood of the lamb (7, Mark 14:24, see also)
♦The doorposts and lintel covered with blood (7, see also)
♦The death of the firstborn for the deliverance of God’s people from slavery (12, see also)
♦God eliminating judgment for those “under the blood” (13,23, see also)

3. Read verses 3-9. Lepers were, according to Levitical law, unclean, and had to live alone, outside the city. How is it that Simon had a home in the city with invited guests? How could Jesus have entered the house of a leper, without breaking the law, and remained clean Himself?

4. What did the woman’s outward actions (3) demonstrate about her heart attitude toward Jesus? What did the objectors’ outward words and actions (4-5) demonstrate about their heart attitude toward Jesus? Was Jesus being self-centered or uncaring about the poor? (6-7) Why was the woman’s anointing of Jesus the right and godly thing to do?

5. Compare and contrast the woman’s honoring of Jesus (3-9) with Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (10-11, 18-21). How did each of them demonstrate the truth of Luke 6:45? What did Jesus say about each of them?

6. What do verses 12-16 and 17-21 teach us about Christ’s deity and omniscience? What does the two disciples’ unquestioning obedience (16), and the disciples’ unquestioning belief (19) tell us about their faith and trust in Christ? Consider your own obedience to Christ and whether or not you believe His Word. What does this tell you, and others, about your faith and trust in Christ? Why do you think Jesus told the disciples that He was about to be betrayed and who would do it? What does Jesus’ statement in verse 21 mean?

7. What was Jesus trying to convey to the disciples in verses 22-26? What was the significance of Jesus giving the bread (22) and the wine (23) to the disciples? Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that when Jesus said “this is My body” and “this is My blood” He meant it literally, and that when Mass is celebrated today, the bread and wine are supernaturally transformed into the literal flesh and blood of Jesus. This is a false teaching called transubstantiation. Were the disciples literally eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood in this passage? How does this (as well as Scripture) demonstrate that Jesus was speaking metaphorically? Can you think of other instances in which Jesus spoke about Himself metaphorically that we do not take literally? If someone were to ask you if you “take the Bible literally,” how would you answer?

8. What was the significance of Jesus saying “this is my blood of the covenant“? (24) Which covenants would the disciples have been familiar with which were sealed with blood? What was this new covenant Jesus was referring to?


Homework

Reflect on the past 24 hours of your life. List three things you said or did and what these outward words and actions demonstrate about your heart attitude toward Jesus.


Suggested Memory Verse

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38

Testimony Tuesday: Sharon’s Story

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If you’d like to share your story, please see the info at the end of the article. Though all types of testimonies are welcome, right now, I’m especially looking for brief (1-3 paragraphs) testimonies.

Sharon’s Story

I come from South Africa. I grew up in an Anglican home but my mom and dad were Christmas and Easter churchgoers. However they had the sense to send us to Sunday school and confirmation classes. I went to a church camp when I was thirteen. There I heard the gospel in a new way and I was saved. I wanted to leave the Anglican church but was unable to. In order to attend youth at the Assemblies of God (AOG) church, I had to attend Anglican church on Sunday. I learnt more and grew in the Lord at AOG.

At this time I was living at my dad and stepmother but when I was 18 I moved to live with my mom and go to college. My mom had also been saved and attended AOG. My sister and I went with her.

While I was at AOG I started dating the youth leader, not knowing the man was actually married. My mom trapped him in a lie and did some digging. We discovered he had left a pregnant wife and girlfriend back in Durban. Then he moved to Johannesburg. That was end of that relationship but I was blamed for leading him astray. I was badly treated by the church.

We left and went to another fellowship. After dating and being badly treated by numerous “Christian” men, my heart was in tatters and my faith was low. I met my husband (not a believer, but not an atheist either). We dated seven years and got married.

Nobody ever cautioned me at the time about being unequally yoked. My husband is a good kind man that has never prevented me from going to church or Bible study. We are married 23 years later and happily. I believe God will reach him.

We have two sons. We are a nomadic family. We have been backward and forward from Saudi Arabia to South Africa to New Zealand to United Arab Emirates. I have always found a place to fellowship even in Saudi. God has always given me a spiritual home. When I have strayed and been less than faithful, God has brought me back. My personal life can be likened to Israel. From faithful to idolatrous to being in bondage and being rescued.

In December 2014 we were on holiday in South Africa where we were involved in a horror smash. I was left with a broken back and neck. God got me into a great hospital. I was due for neck surgery on December 26, so they sent me for x-rays. Miracle!!! God had placed the vertebrae back and surgery was not necessary. That was Christmas day. God had given me Jesus as Savior and given me healing. That hospital was special. The nurses were believers and sang and prayed over us. Many miracles occurred there. I was not the only one.

They fitted a halo brace to support my neck – sheer agony. But thanks be to God, I walked out of hospital a month after I entered. God restored all nervous function to my arms and legs. Prior to going on vacation we bought basic travel insurance which is something we had not done before. I can only think it was the prompting of God. God ensured that all of my medical expenses were covered in this insurance. We were not left with any debts. Praise God!! God has an awesome way of taking care of us even when we are not closely following.

This whole situation was a spiritual wake up call of note. I knew God had His hand on me and was shaking me right. The irony of a broken neck was not lost on me. God had to break my neck of stubbornness to get through to me. He did. And I thank Him.
It’s close to 3 years later and I am walking closely with Him.

I have an awesome fellowship here in United Arab Emirates. I think Isaiah 43:18-19 was made for me. I had to come to the desert to find living water. I am active in fellowship and service. We are prevented from openly evangelising but we go into labor camps to teach English and bring supplies to the poor and we spread the Word there. The Emirates are hungry for truth and not resistant. If they ask questions , we give them the truth. We have led many to Christ. It is however difficult for them to stay in the church.

God is truly awesome! I will continue to serve where He leads me. I enjoy hospital prayer and visitation. I go when I hear of someone in need. God has given me the gift of encouragement and support. I cannot begin to thank or praise God enough for what He has done for me. I have two scars on my forehead from the halo screws. The doctors here wanted to know if I needed plastic surgery to have them removed. I said no. It was my constant reminder of how much God loved me. Praise Him forever!!


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: Do You Recommend These Teachers/Authors? (Update to Vol. 3)

 

These days it can be hard to know which pastors and teachers are trustworthy and which are not, and it can take a lot of time to vet them. It’s important that Christians know how to research leaders they’re considering following, but for those moments when you just don’t have the time to do it yourself, I’ve done some of the legwork for you on several teachers and ministries. You can find all of them at the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page.

I frequently update these articles with new information, and today’s Mailbag article is an update of a previous Mailbag article:

Do You Recommend These Teachers/Authors? Volume 3

I have added Jill Briscoe, Tony Evans, and Chrystal Evans Hurst to the article. Please click the link above to read and to comment.

Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

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Confession time: Sometimes – OK, often – I think my brain works more like a man’s than a woman’s. You’ve got a problem? Suck it up- here’s the solution. The mall? A perfectly horrifying way to ruin a Saturday. And why do we have to hug people hello and goodbye when we see each other multiple times a week?

I’ve always been more comfortable around men, and when I was single, I had mostly male friends. They’re generally¹ less mysterious and easier to figure out than women, and they don’t usually play those manipulative emotional games some women can be notorious for. If a man says he wants a cheese sandwich, there’s no hidden “you don’t bring me flowers often enough” meaning there. He just wants a cheese sandwich. I like that. It’s pretty much how I operate.

Which makes me the perfect person for God to plunk down smack dab in the middle of women’s ministry, right?

Harrumph.

God just has this way about Him of stretching us and growing us beyond our comfortable little confines. I used to be terrified of walking into a room full of women (They’re so unpredictable! You never know when a big emotional scene might break out!) But after years of teaching and discipling women, developing close friendships with women, serving and ministering to women, I now walk into that room and see precious sisters, created oh so tenderly and intricately by God’s loving hands.

God purposefully and intentionally made each woman unique, but with common traits and perspectives that bind us together as sisters and differentiate us from men. And because men aren’t wired by God the same way women are, sometimes they’re just not going to get the way women think about things, approach people, or respond to issues. Sometimes (shopping, flowers, hugginess) that’s no big deal. They can shrug their shoulders, extend grace, and make space for the women in their lives to think, feel, and react differently than men would without really taking the time to understand why.

But there’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one. You’re the pastors. The elders. The husbands. The fathers. The ones responsible before God for leading your churches and your families in doctrinally sound spiritual growth. You’ve got to get this for the sake of the girls and women you lead:

Women respond differently to false teachers than men do.

And, ladies, we need to understand this about ourselves, too.

It started, not with the advent of modern feminism, or the church age, or even the Fall. It started in the Garden.

Genesis 3 begins…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman

Have you ever wondered why the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam?

Before sin entered the world, before that snake in the grass even thought up his dastardly plan of deception, there was a void in the world. None of the animals or birds could fill it. Neither could Adam. God determined that, in order to make His creation complete, there was a need for woman to fill that void. So He reached down with His own two hands (so to speak) and personally crafted a woman.

God had made both animals and Adam out of cold, dead dirt. Not so with woman. God made woman out of soft, warm, living flesh, already coursing with life. God made man to tend the ground from which he had come. God made woman to tend the man from which she had come.

And in the same way God used a different method for creating man and woman and gave them different modes of work, He also gave them different mental and emotional makeups.

God created women with some incredible strengths. Women are usually much better nurturers than men. We’re often better at negotiating, compromising, and making peace between opposing parties. We’re more sensitive to what others are going through and how to treat people in a kind and compassionate way. We bear up under certain pains and stressors better than men do. We’re usually better communicators than men. And, frequently it’s much easier for women to trust, love, and give the benefit of the doubt to others.

And along with those unique strengths come unique challenges that we have to watch out for and that men need some insight about.

We’re kinder and more compassionate, so we have to be careful about people who would take advantage of that. Nurturing is great for raising our children, but if we baby them all their lives, that’s not healthy. Being trusting is a fantastic character trait, but it’s imperative that we be vigilant not to put our trust in the wrong person.

Could it be that the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam because he thought she would be more trusting, give him the benefit of the doubt, and thus be easier to deceive?

First Timothy 2:14 echoes this idea. In 1 Timothy 2:11-14, God explains that women are not to teach men or exercise authority over men in the gathered body of Believers – the church. He gives two reasons for this in verses 13-14. The first reason (13) is the Creative order: “Adam was formed first, then Eve”. God’s second reason is in verse 14:

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

It’s interesting that verse 13 refers to the specific woman, Eve, but verse 14 uses the more generic term “the woman.” Are women, as a whole, more likely to be victims of deceivers than men are? Scripture seems to point us that direction.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warns Timothy that people – including those in the church – will become more and more degenerate during the last days. There will even be those who have an outer facade of godliness but are not operating by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (5). In other words: false teachers. Verses 6-7 tell us that among these false teachers are those…

…who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

In verse 16 of this same chapter we read that “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” and we know that God never makes mistakes or chooses His words haphazardly. So we know there’s a reason God uses the words “weak women” here. Not weak men, not weak Christians, not weak people – weak women. God graciously gives a warning to women not to be taken in by these false teachers, and an exhortation to men – particularly pastors, since this is a pastoral epistle – to protect the women of their churches and families against those who would prey upon tenderhearted, trusting women.

One reason these women are weak is that they’re led astray by various passions. Today, the word “passion” or “passionate” often has a sexual connotation, but that’s not the only meaning, especially not here. Dictionary.com defines passion as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate; a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Merriam-Webster says passion is, “the emotions as distinguished from reason; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”

As with so many other valuable characteristics God has blessed women with, passion is a two-edged sword. God wants us to have a passion for holiness, pursing Christ, and biblical ministry to others, but we have to be extremely careful to steward that passion with the reins, bit, and bridle of discernment and knowledge of the Scriptures. Otherwise, we will pour our passion – our powerful and compelling loyalty, enthusiasm, fondness, and love – into the wrong teachers and doctrines.

Which brings us full circle to Eve, because that’s where her train jumped the tracks.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:4-6 

Notice the serpent doesn’t invite Eve to something blatantly evil. “God knows…” “…you will be like God.” He’s tempting her to do something she thinks is godly. Then Eve takes her eyes off God and His word and looks instead at the tree.

🍃It was good for food The fruit would satisfy a felt need. It was practical. She and Adam needed supper. Here was an easy solution. And, besides, it looked delicious and nutritious.

🍃It was a delight to the eyes– The fruit appealed to Eve’s sense of beauty. It looked good to her.

🍃It was to be desired to make one wise– Eve had a passion to grow in wisdom and godliness, and this beautiful, appealing, practical, attractive fruit seemed, in her eyes, the best and most enjoyable way to reach that goal.

This is the same way women are being deceived today. The attractive “tree” (Ever notice that most false teachers are at least somewhat physically attractive – “a delight to the eyes”?) extends a branch with lovely-looking, supposedly nutritious fruit on it which she says will lead to godly wisdom and growth (even though her teaching conflicts with God’s written Word). And it’ll be delicious too. Those who bite the apple will feast on love, positive thoughts, encouragement, and self-esteem-building teaching. It’s too appealing to the woman’s senses – and she’s too weak in her knowledge of Scripture and her desire to obey it – to pass up. She succumbs to the passions of her senses, plucks the fruit, and eats.

And then a fascinating phenomenon begins to take place. The weak woman feeds her passions with the fruit of false doctrine, and then she begins to pour that passion – that intense, compelling loyalty, love, fondness, and enthusiasm – into the false teacher herself. As anyone who has ever tried to gently open a devotee’s eyes can attest, hell hath no fury like a confronted Beth Moore disciple. I have seen women defend their favorite false teachers – against clear Scripture, mind you – with a viciousness I’m not sure I could muster to protect my own children against physical harm.

Men may enjoy a particular false teacher, but women worship them.

And this is the crux of the difference that men rarely grasp when the topic of discernment comes up. I’ve talked to countless pastors who don’t understand why simply preaching and teaching sound doctrine from the pulpit and in the Sunday School class isn’t sufficient to protect their churches from the infiltration of false doctrine and false teachers. This is why.

Maybe a man will hear hear a biblical truth, realize the preacher he’s been listening to conflicts with it, and simply walk away. A woman won’t. Because, not only has the teaching a woman listens to inextricably wrapped its tentacles around the very core of her soul, she has also formed an emotional bond with the teacher that’s almost impossible to break. She loves her. And she will nearly always choose that loving, bonded “relationship” over biblical truth, giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt and making excuses for her every step of the way.

The Holy Spirit gets it. He understands the power false teachers wield over weak women and the destruction false teaching in general brings upon the church, so He inspired Paul to write Titus 1:9:

[A pastor] must 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.

Pastors who only preach sound doctrine are only doing half their job. And notice that this verse doesn’t merely say to “rebuke teaching that contradicts sound doctrine” in a generic sort of way. It says rebuke “those who” contradict it. “Those who” are people. Specific people. People with names.

Many pastors and teachers don’t want to name names of false teachers. They’ll quote false teachers, allude to them, describe them, and drop hints as to their identity, hoping against hope their church members will figure out who they’re talking about and stop following them. But they don’t want to call specific names. I understand the fear of naming names. It opens pastors up to attack by the aforementioned disciples of false teachers. I’ve experienced their venom, and believe me, nobody wants to go through that.

But guys – pastors, teachers, husbands – I’m telling you the women you’re preaching to, the women who are in the tightest clutches of false teachers aren’t getting it. They are not going to hear your veiled allusions to “some Christian authors who say…” or “the pastor of one of the largest churches in America teaches…” and think you’re talking about the false teacher they’re following. They think you’re talking about somebody else. The guy their neighbor is following. That crazy preacher on TBN. But not my favorite Southern Baptist “Bible” study teacher who’s a best seller at LifeWay and is touted on social media by well known pastors.

It takes courage – manly courage – to stand up in front of your congregation, class, or wife and warn them against specific false teachers, but that’s what godly men – who love the women in their churches and families and want to see them spiritually healthy – do.

We need your help, men. The church needs your help. Your family needs your help. Please get this so you can help other “Eves” not to be deceived and weak women to become strong followers of Christ, not false teachers.


¹If it’s not abundantly clear from context, please understand that I’m speaking in generalities in this article. Naturally, individuals vary.

Throwback Thursday ~ Churchmanship 101: Funerals

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Originally published January 9, 2015

I was born into a church-going family. I grew up in church and have attended faithfully my whole life. These days, that’s becoming more and more rare. Often, people have a very hit and miss relationship with church, and if you haven’t had much experience attending services and other events, it can be easy to miss out on some of the decorum and how-to’s that are a given to those of us raised in church. You don’t want to “do it wrong”, but, then you don’t want someone telling you you’re doing it wrong, either. So, I thought maybe I (and I need some help from you other “lifers” out there, too!) could serve as a resource.

Thus, a new series I’m introducing today: Churchmanship 101. We’re going to take a look at various activities and events of the church and go over some of the biblical basics and/or practical aspects of churchy stuff. (One quick disclaimer: I’m writing as a lifelong Southern Baptist who has spent most of my church life in small to medium-sized, traditional {think steeple and pews, with no laser light show or rock band} churches. That’s what I know, so that’s the perspective from which I have to write. Your experiences might be a little different.) Please ask questions, suggest topics, and share your stories!

funerals

Churchmanship 101: Funerals

As a ministry wife and church musician, I’ve been to a lot of funerals. I mean, A LOT. I’ve seen some awesome ones and I’ve seen things that would make you wonder what planet some of the attendees/bereaved were from. How about a few helpful hints about funerals and wakes for the bereaved, the attendees, and the churches who host them?

The Way You Look Tonight

Yep, I’m going there. In a civilized society we dress appropriately for the occasion. Not necessarily expensively, but appropriately. Generally speaking, the following are inappropriate for funerals:

  • visible cleavage
  • fishnet stockings
  • mid-thigh (or shorter) skirts/dresses
  • stilletto heels
  • excessive bling, makeup, or hair
  • jeans
  • shorts
  • flip flops
  • camouflage
  • baseball caps
  • leather pants
  • overalls

(There could be some exceptions, such as if a baseball player dies and people wear baseball hats to honor him, or something like that.)

If you look in a mirror and you look like you did when you used to go clubbing, or to a picnic, or to mow the lawn, you need to change. A) You’re going to church, and B) somebody just DIED. Show some respect.

Ladies, whatever the rest of your wardrobe looks like, you need one decent, modest dress, suit, or skirt/blouse combo in a muted color that could be worn to a wedding, funeral, or job interview. Men, you need one decent suit and tie or slacks/dress shirt/sport jacket/tie for the same reasons. No, jeans are not slacks. No, a denim or athletic jacket is not a suit/sport jacket. If you don’t want to put out a lot of money because you don’t often dress that way, go to a thrift store. Many times, you can find brand new clothes (tags still on) for a song. Or, if you’re really hard pressed, borrow an appropriate outfit from a friend.

Suffer the Little Children

Wakes and funerals are mind numbingly boring for small children who don’t know what’s going on. If you have small children and you’re a funeral/wake attendee or you’re family of the deceased, consider getting a babysitter. In fact, it would be a wonderful gesture on the church’s part to have someone volunteer to take the children of the deceased’s family members to the nursery (or other kid friendly room) and let them run around and play, feed them, etc.

However, if you feel you have to have your child at a funeral/wake (whether you’re a family member or simply an attendee), you MUST supervise and control your child. If he makes a fuss during the service, take him out to the lobby until he calms down. And by all means, do not let him run wild in the church or let him play on the sanctuary stage (there may be expensive sound equipment, office equipment, etc., he could ruin) during the wake. First of all, there will be many strangers coming and going, and these days you can’t be too careful about abductions and abuse, even in a church. Second, your child could hurt himself or run out into the parking lot or street. No need for an additional tragedy. Furthermore, it is awkward for the pastor or someone else to come to a grieving family and ask them to please control their child because he is disturbing or upsetting others or destroying something.

Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room

If you haven’t been able to kick the habit yet and you need a cigarette, go outside. Most churches are smoke free zones. Stand far enough away from the entrance that people don’t have to walk through clouds of smoke to get into the building and that smoke doesn’t waft into the building.

A Picture of Me Without You

Selfies with the deceased are déclassé. If you have to do it, at least wait until no one else is around, and keep it off social media.

Watch Your Mouth

Swearing (even what you might consider mild swearing, like WTH or OMG) is not appropriate in a church. Ever.

Neither is chewing tobacco.

Hangin’ on the Telephone

Turn off or silence your phone.

While there may be lulls during a wake when it’s ok to check your phone/texts/social media, that’s never OK during the actual service except in emergency situations.

Food, Glorious Food

Bring food for the family for after the funeral if you can. If you’re not sure what to bring, you’re probably safe with a cake or a deli (meat/cheese or fruit/veggie) tray. If you’re an attendee, understand that the food that has been brought is for the family even if it’s all laid out in the fellowship hall and looks like a potluck. This is not an open buffet unless you have been specifically invited or a general announcement has been made that all are welcome to eat.

Don’t Make a Scene, Irene

For various reasons, sometimes people laugh or smile at a wake or funeral. That doesn’t mean they didn’t love the deceased or that they don’t miss him/her. (But it isn’t a comedy club either, so try to contain yourself if you’re amused by something.)

Go to the bathroom before the service starts so you won’t have to be embarrassed by getting up and walking out in the middle of it.

Wakes/funerals are not a time or place for family feuds or for airing grievances about the deceased. Keep it to yourself.

During funerals, there’s often an open call for people to “stand up and say a few words” about the dearly departed. The key word in this phrase is “few.” Share a brief and appropriate fond memory or something you appreciate about the deceased. Again, swearing and airing of grievances are not appropriate, and neither is vulgarity, personal, private details, or a long harangue aimed at the bereaved or attendees.

Different cultures express grief differently. It may be totally appropriate for there to be a roomful of loud weeping and wailing at certain funerals. However, if you’re the only attendee doing this, others may not be able to hear the service. Be aware of your surroundings.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore

If you’d like to make a memorial donation to a charity or other organization in honor of the deceased, be certain (especially if you’re considering one that hasn’t been suggested by the family) it’s an organization the deceased would have supported. For example, I would love it if, when I die, people would donate Gideon Bibles instead of sending flowers, but I would turn over in my grave if someone made a donation in my name to Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, etc.

Welcome to My World (A word to churches and pastors conducting funerals)

Churches should be funeral friendly. Make sure your signage is up to date so non-church members will know where the sanctuary, bathrooms, fellowship hall, etc., are. Make sure the bathrooms are clean and well stocked with paper towels, soap, toilet paper, etc. And while we’re on the subject of bathrooms, correct any plumbing problems or at least put up signs indicating that a toilet is out of order, you have to hold the handle down, etc. Church members may know, but visitors don’t. Provide plenty of well placed kleenex boxes in the sanctuary and other rooms family members might use. Provide a “family room,” if possible. Sometimes family members just need a moment alone.

Pastors: breath mints and deodorant. Enough said.

Pastors in the South in the heat of summer- a simple, elegant, and BRIEF service at the grave site is always nice. (Likewise for pastors in the North during the dead of winter.)

Well, those are just some of the observations I’ve made at funerals over the years. Any other advice, suggestions, or questions out there? Are things done differently in your neck of the woods? What has been your most interesting funeral experience?

Mark: Lesson 19

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Mark 13

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”


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


Questions to Consider

1. Read verses 1-2. Where had Jesus just been teaching? How do these verses demonstrate the “prophet” part of Jesus’ threefold office of “Prophet, Priest, and King”? Did Jesus’ prophecy come true? How and when? How does this support Jesus’ omniscience and trustworthiness?

2. What were God’s theological reasons for allowing the temple to be destroyed? Why is the temple obsolete now that Christ has come?

3. Examine verses 3-13. In verse 4, the disciples ask what the signs they could be on the lookout for that the temple is about to be destroyed. Does this indicate they expected Jesus to establish His kingdom right away or millennia later? What should Jesus’ answer in 5-8 have indicated to them about the timing of these events? Compare the timing aspect of verses 5-8 with 9-13. In which section does Jesus seem to be indicating events that would happen within the disciples’ lifetime? In which section does Jesus seem to be suggesting that the events He mentions are far off? (Hint: look at Jesus use of the word “you” in both sections.)

4. What “signs” (4) did Jesus say would take place prior to the end of time and the establishment of His kingdom? (5-8) What is Jesus’ primary instruction to the disciples – then and now – in this passage? (5,6,9)

5. What will the disciples “bear witness to” before governors and kings? (9) Sometimes people use verse 11 to suggest that a pastor or teacher need not study for and prepare his sermon or lesson ahead of time, but should speak extemporaneously  “by the Holy Spirit”. Examining verse 11 in context, is that what this verse means? How do verses 9-13 refute the “health, wealth, and prosperity” gospel?

6. What is the abomination of desolation of the end times? (14) What does God instruct His people to do when this event occurs? (15-18, 21, 23) What will all of these end times events culminate in? (26-27) Make a list of the specific things in verses 5-25 that Christ says will happen before He returns (26-27).

7. Verses 5-25 deal with “what” will happen. Verses 28-37 deal with w___ they will happen. When does Jesus say these end time events will occur? (32-33) Like the disciples, we tend to focus on “When will these things be?” (4) and the specific events that will occur. List Jesus’ explicit instructions (do this, be that, don’t do this, etc.) to the disciples and us in verses 5, 7, 9, 11, 14-16, 18, 21, 23, 28, 33, 35, 37. Is Jesus’ focus more on the events and timing of the events or on instructing His people how to respond to those events? What are some ways Christians can begin preparing our hearts to rightly respond to those events if they should occur in our lifetime?

8. Summarize verses 5-37 in one to two sentences. What do we call the branch of theology that deals with the end times and the return of Christ?


Homework

One of the themes of this passage is that false christs and false prophets will arise to deceive many and lead them astray. Make a list of five specific ways you can avoid being led astray by a false teacher. Begin implementing one of those ways this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Mark 13:31

You’re Not Awesome…and You Know It

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I am absolutely weary of some of the memes aimed at Christian women these days. You know the ones I mean, ladies- the ones with lovely pictures of flowers or an ocean or a meadow with a superimposed flowing script practically BEGGING us to believe how much worth we have to God, how awesome we are, how we need to discover the greatness within, how God gives us limitless potential and a superfantastic divine purpose, blah, blah, blah.

You know why they have to take that begging tone to try to get us to believe those things? Because they’re not true. You know it, and I know it.

You’re not awesome or great or imbued with some radical purpose or potential that will magically make your life phenomenal and give you oodles of self esteem once you discover it.

You’re a dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious sinner. You yell at your kids. You don’t submit to your husband. You act out of selfishness. You lie. You gossip. You covet. You bow down to your idols instead of to Christ. You sin against a holy and righteous God in a thousand ways every day in thought, word, and deed. Just like I do. Let’s put on our big girl panties and just admit it. (1 John 1:8,10)

That’s why these memes and false teachers have to try so hard to convince us of how terrific we are- deep down we know we’re not. It’s a lie. And putting all our eggs in the basket of that lie of greatness sets us up for disappointment and self-loathing every time we sin.

Ladies, stop listening to this hearts and flowers, cotton candy, pump up your ego so you’ll feel better about yourself dreck, and put your faith and hope in the One who will never let you down. The One who looked at all your nasty thoughts and evil deeds and said, “I’m going to the cross for her anyway.” The One who sees all your daily faults and failures and is still willing to forgive when you repent. The One who’s faithful to you even when you’re not faithful to Him.

Stop focusing on how great you are – because you’re not – and put your focus on Christ and how great, and awesome, and superfantastic, and terrific He is. Because if you’re feeling bad about yourself, it’s not because you don’t have a high enough self esteem. It’s because you don’t have a high enough Christ esteem.

We’re not worthy. He is. Let’s get over ourselves and give Him the glory, and honor, and attention, and focus, and praise He so richly deserves.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24