Category Archives: Women’s Ministry

Saturday Sampler: April 16 — April 22

Blend SamplerHave you been following Leslie A’s excellent series on developing discernment on her Growing 4 Life blog? Even if you haven’t, Learn to Discern: Preparing Your Heart and Mind is very much worth your time and attention. She lays a Biblical foundation for cultivating discernment.

Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day writes Jen Hatmaker, the ‘Christian Machine’, and Genuine Orthodox Christianity in response to Hatmaker’s Good Friday post comparing the backlash to her support of same sex marriage to Christ’s sufferings on the cross. Please,  Ms. Hatmaker,  grow up!

Michelle Lesley has a passion for teaching women how to study the Bible for themselves. Her article, Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them, provides an excellent resource for studying God’s Word.

I so appreciate Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes for her balanced and Biblical perspective in Beware the Lies of Emotionalism. Our culture has wrongly influenced the visible church that feelings, rather than God’s Word, lead us into a right relationship with the Lord.

Writing for Parking Space 23, Allen Cagle encourages church music leaders to ask, Should We Sing That Song? Those of us in the pews might also benefit from these guidelines for evaluating worship music.

The newest trend in evangelical circles exalts “authenticity” and “brokenness.” As Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition Blog says in his piece, Beware of Broken Wolves, false teachers often use these postures as a means of spreading deceit to the rest of Christ’s Body.

 

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Saturday Sampler: April 9 — April 15

Tulip Sampler 01Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center enumerates 9 Glorious Things The Resurrection Means To Us as a preparation for our Resurrection Sunday worship. Please enjoy this encouraging piece.

Having adopted New England as my  home, I’ve often felt saddened and troubled by this region’s departure from its Biblical foundation. So I appreciated Elizabeth Prata for writing New England’s mission drift in The End Time. She shows the destructive power of compromise.

While you’re on Elizabeth’s website, be sure to read O to see ourselves as others see us. Or maybe not… I think it’s one of her finest essays.

I’m not overly fond of Mortification Of Spin, and have been thinking about canceling my subscription. But Todd Pruitt’s article, Bit-O-Vinegar on his 1517 blog, has made me reconsider. He encourages people like me who tend to be less than gentle about confronting error.

Over at Biblical Woman, Dorothy Patterson writes Ms. Independence Gets Married in response to one of her readers who married later in life (although it amused me, since I married at age 48, that her reader considered the late 20s marrying late). Patterson gives Scriptural advice that any bride should read.

On her blog, Wise In His Eyes, Rebekah Womble asks, Are Reformed Christians “All Head, No Heart”? She handles this common criticism with fairness and grace.

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A Sinful Disagreement

Open Bible 03A woman speaking at a retreat I attended years ago shocked me by stating: “I don’t agree with Paul concerning the roles of women.” Now, it’s one thing to dislike the gender roles delineated in Paul’s epistles, and I admit to struggling with the prohibition against teaching in terms of this blog. (I don’t know how many men read it, but I try to discourage them from doing so.)

In disagreeing with Paul, this speaker was actually disagreeing with Scripture. Her comment disturbed me then, and it has continued to disturb me throughout the years. The entire Bible, whether we like it or not, is God’s Word. As such, it claims authority over us and leaves no room for dissension.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

If God Himself has breathed out Scripture, then the gender roles it prescribes obviously reflect His intent for men and women. For that matter, the Word of God reflects His intent in regard to a wide variety of issues. When we elevate our opinions over Scripture, daring to disagree with certain parts, we betray our arrogance.

Let me clarify why I call it arrogance. If we don’t believe the Bible to be God’s Word, then we subjectively determine our own moral and ethical standards, thereby making ourselves God. And if we claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word, then any disagreement with its human writers is actually disagreement with God. Either position makes me shudder!

A friend of mine often says, “It’s not about what we think; it’s about what God says.” His maxim doesn’t mean (as some have misinterpreted) that Christians ought to disengage our intellect. On the contrary, studying Scripture and accurately applying its teachings in practical ways (such as a woman blogging about the things of the Lord) requires discernment, and discernment is an intellectual exercise. My friend’s point is that our opinions don’t matter as much as what God clearly says.

Yes, God says many things that I, in my flesh, really don’t like. It would feel good to support gay marriage, indulge in sex outside of marriage, brag about my “accomplishments,” spend money exclusively on myself, and be a woman pastor, but all those pursuits disregard Biblical instruction. How I feel about those matters must bow to the Lord’s wisdom. He is, after all, both Creator and King, having full authority to determine how things should function. How can a Christian possibly disagree?

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When Two Bloggers Meet

MichelleRarely does my disability bother me. But Michelle Lesley, one of my favorite bloggers, is speaking at my church’s Women’s Conference this weekend. Problem is, the conference is on Cape Cod, well outside The RIDE area, so there’s no way I can get down there.

The leaders of the women’s ministry, thankfully, had mercy on me. On their way  to the Cape this morning, they brought Michelle by our apartment for a lovely two-hour visit.

What a wonderful time of talking about weddings, discernment, Bible Studies and (of course) blogging! Michelle told me how she does her blog, emphasizing her passion for her Wednesday Bible Studies. Together we lamented the fact that we attract more readers with our articles on false teachers than with the Bible Studies we write. (Why does that happen,  ladies?)

Throughout the conversation, I appreciated the responsibility God has given both me and Michelle to minister to women through the medium of blogging. Of course, Michelle has additional platforms for discipling women that I  don’t, but the Lord has blessed us with this wonderful outreach, allowing us to bring God’s Word to women all over the world.  We both take joy in this way of serving Christ.

I appreciate my friends from church for making the visit possible. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her face-to-face for the first time, yet knowing we’ve been friends for quite a while. I don’t foresee seeing her in person again before Christ’s return, but how glorious to know that she and I will spend eternity together praising the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray for Michelle this weekend as she ministers to the women from my beloved church family. And pray for the ladies to draw closer to the Lord and His Word through the teaching she presents.

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Believers Who Miss The Gospel

Old Fashioned Girl

A couple years ago, “false convert” seemed to be the latest buzz word in the types of blogs I read, and I struggled with the suspicion that we might over-apply the term. Looking back on my own life, for example, I can’t determine the genuineness of my own conversion during the time I participated in the Charismatic movement.

I embraced a lot of bad doctrine during those years, and yet I knew deep down that much of the theology didn’t really square with Scripture. I just didn’t know Scripture well enough to argue against Charismatic doctrine. But I did know that I had no claim to heaven apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Trusting in Christ rather than self-effort marks a true Christian. Although we must pay attention to other points of doctrine (particularly the sufficiency of Scripture), the basic Gospel must underscore everything else. The true Christian knows his depravity, and therefore has no option other than to rely exclusively on Jesus to atone for his sin.

In contrast, many false converts have great difficulty understanding the severity of their sin. Oh, they may give lip-service to the concept, but they secretly believe that they either took part in becoming Christians or have some responsibilities in maintaining their salvation. They sing about God’s grace, but they can’t really believe that He has done all the work. They feel driven to contribute something.

The apostle Paul addressed this prideful attitude in the letter to the Galatians. Of course I can’t copy the entire epistle here, but  consider this passage as an example:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? ~~Galatians 3:1-3 (ESV)

Charismatics, Catholics, proponents of contemplative prayer and adherents of psychology all can fall into this category of false converts, through genuine Christians occasionally fall into these deceptions.  All these groups (and probably others) subtly add human effort either to salvation itself or to sanctification while minimizing the doctrine of depravity. In fact, some of them actively seek to bolster self-esteem, teaching that Jesus died for us because of our worth. The focus, in one way or another, reverts to  man’s ability to earn God’s favor–directly contradicting the  message of the Gospel.

Other false converts minimize the doctrine of sin, either by claiming that they’re free to sin because of Christ’s death on the cross (which paid for their sin) or by manipulating Scripture to excuse their particular sin. They violate the Gospel by refusing to let it conform them to His Holiness. They expect God to make them feel good, but reject any thought of surrendering their lives to Him.

The following passage from 2 Peter describes the attitude of false teachers, but I believe it also applies to others who use a faulty understanding of grace to justify sinful behavior.

19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” ~~2 Peter 2:19-22 (ESV)

Gay Christians (particularly those who once served as leaders in the ex-gay arena before going back to homosexuality), female pastors and elders and emergent church types provide the most prominent examples of those who minimize the gravity of sin. But by trivializing sin, they also trivialize the precious blood of Christ. Additionally, they pull the emphasis away from the Lord’s glory and on to how He can satisfy them.

I’ve merely given an overview of false conversion today, but I hope it’s enough to get you to examine your own spiritual condition . I still test myself periodically. As we all examine ourselves to make sure He has genuinely saved us, may we keep our gaze on Christ, giving Him all the glory and adoring Him for saving wretches like us.

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Perspectives In Titus: Putting Things In Order

Bible contextContinuing our study of Titus, we’ll look at verses 5-6 today.I had hoped to cover verses 5-9 in this post. Once you stop laughing at my unrealistic expectations of myself (yes, it’s funny that I thought I could get through five verses in one shot), let’s read the passage to get our bearings.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He 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. ~~Titus 1:5-9 (ESV)

As I prepared this study, I realized that verses 5 and 6 present a theme of putting things in order. Hmm, maybe it’s God’s providence that I will only get through these two verses.

Starting with verse 5, we learn that Titus remained in Crete to finish Paul’s work and to appoint elders.

Jamieson Fausset and Brown comment that Paul spent the winter there on his way to his imprisonment in Rome. So, coupled with the fact that Cretan Jews heard the Gospel at Pentecost (Acts 2:11), the Gospel had gotten to Crete. But Paul left, a prisoner, before the church could be fully organized, so he charged Titus with the responsibility of organizing the church. Gill argues that Paul left Titus there after his second visit.

Paul wanted Titus to “set in order” what remained of constituting the Cretan church.  Vincent’s Word Studies says that the Greek word translated “set in order”   was “Used by medical writers of setting broken limbs or straightening crooked ones.” In verses  10-16 of this chapter we’ll see why the Cretan church needed correction.

Paul directed Titus to appoint elders in every town of Crete. Elders were responsible to care for the  spiritual needs of local congregations. Thus they had to be men of maturity. For that reason, they had to be men whose personal lives reflected order.

Titus 1:6-8 parallels 1 Timothy 3:2-4  in listing the qualifications for being an elder.  Jamieson, Fausset and Brown  comment that the reiteration of qualifications in this epistle contrasts the wickedness of the Cretans (see Titus 1:10). An elder, because he will reprove unsound doctrine and behavior, must exhibit godliness in his own life.

Therefore he must be, first of all, above reproach. Obviously, no elder can be completely sinless, but God’s Word through Paul requires that they be men of integrity.  The rest of this passage details how he should be above reproach.

An elder’s blamelessness begins with how well he orders his family life. Faithfulness in marriage, therefore, is essential. Commentators vary on how strictly this principle applies in the case of remarriage, but the general idea is that he be a model of sexual fidelity. They also note that this clause doesn’t disqualify unmarried men from serving. The point is that they be chaste.

His children, the English text says, must be believers. According to Barnes, the Greek word here rendered “believers” simply means that they live respectfully toward the Christian faith. The issue is more about his ability to govern than about whether or not God has given his children the gift of faith  (Ephesians 2:8). In 1 Timothy 3:5  Paul explains that a man who can’t manage his own household probably can’t manage God’s church.

Nobody should be able to accuse an elder of spending excessive money or time on selfish pursuits (here called debauchery) or in rebellion against authority. Some commentators believe that this clause applies to the elder’s children.  That explanation seems most consistent with the  text.

As women, of course, none of us will be church elders. But really, every Christian should have the level of integrity that Paul prescribes for elders. Are we faithful to our husbands?  Are we helping our husbands raise well-behaved children? Do our personal lives qualify us to serve our churches?  If not, perhaps we need the Lord to put us in order.

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Saturday Sampler: February 26 — March 4

cross-sampler-02Commenting on something she read in The New York Times, Elizabeth Prata has an essay in  The End Time discussing Practical magic’s resurgence that I believe is worth your attention.

In Learn to Discern: The Corruption of Christianity (the latest in a series in Growing 4 Life), Leslie A. shares an essay by her brother,  Pastor Dean. Dean examines six popular trends which have dangerously weakened the visible church.

Once again, Rebekah Womble knocks it out of the park on her blog, Wise In His Eyes. This time, I recommend her blog post, Women, Don’t Feed on Fluff for its Scriptural guidelines on discerning whether an author or teacher is worth our time (and money).

As Reformed Christians commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we must consider the differences between us and Roman Catholics. Blogging for The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge asks Which Jesus does your Roman Catholic friend believe in? This post offers helpful guidelines for witnessing to Catholic friends and family.

Michael J. Krueger has been writing a series for Canon Fodder. His latest installment, Taking Back Christianese #8: “It’s Not My Place to Judge Someone Else”, takes on the common misapplication of Matthew 7:1.

Lisa Morris of Conforming to the Truth cautions us about The Upside Down Truth About Quick Bible Devotions. Ladies, we can do better.

Are you observing Lent this year? If so, Michelle Lesley lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent as an encouragement to think Biblically about the season. If you wonder why (after writing so strongly against observing Lent Tuesday) I’ve included her article on this Saturday Sampler, read what she has to say.

Even through Brian Lee’s article, Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad For Your Soul, appeared in The Federalist three years ago, it raises points about the practice that mustn’t be overlooked. Perhaps this is the most Biblical treatment of Lent I’ve read so far.

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