Posted in church life, discernment, doctrine, false, false teacher, sister

"My Sister in the faith is reading a heretical book/studying heretical material. How do I tell her?"

A sister in the faith asked me that question in the title the other day. I responded in the comments but now I’m making a stand-alone piece. These are my experiences and advice, but are based on my understanding of scripture. I it helps any sister. If you have had experience in helping a sister in the faith turn away from using poor, unedifying materials, please chime in. This essay isn’t the be-all and end-all, just a starting point.

I know that when I go to church and see a sister in the faith carrying a book by Ann Voskamp, or attending a Beth Moore study, my stomach clenches and my heart drops. Then, I worry. I know that heretical materials have just enough truth to seem good but so much heresy it will soon pollute my sister’s thinking. False teaching is meant to destroy, and my sister is in its cross-hairs. This is not something we can ignore.

But how to tell her? It’s uncomfortable and difficult to do. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings yet it must be done because false teaching is a blight on the name of Jesus. In addition, we will have to answer for our failure to act in love. James 4:17 says,

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

We also know that in these dark days where the truth is not exalted, that we will more than likely be labeled as a troublemaker. I have had this experience myself. Of course we seek to be diplomatic in these kind of conversations, so take care that we are speaking the truth gently and not roughly. But no matter how gentle and diplomatic you are, there is a good chance the person will take offense. Since there are so many false converts these days, there’s also a good chance they will subsequently label you as critical, intolerant, and trouble with a capital T.

In addition, we have the problem of deception by investment. (Term coined by Glenn Chatfield). This means that people who follow false teachers are invested in them. They have spent money on their books or devotionals, they have perhaps attended a meeting or conference. Thus, they are invested financially, emotionally, and time-wise. They’ve been seen and heard letting their chips fall in the side of what you’re telling them is a false teacher. Puncturing that will pierce pride because you’re piercing their very selves. They will want to be defensive. No one likes a conversation like that.

So with these things in mind, here is a teaching called The Gentle Art of Correction based on 2 Timothy 2:23-26. It is aimed at pastors and leaders but its principles are good for ladies too. 🙂

So, how? I take two examples from the bible. In the first example, Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside to instruct him (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos was a believer, hadn’t sinned, but needed to have the full counsel of God given to him before he went too much further in preaching like he’d been doing. The duo did not embarrass him by correcting him in public, but took him aside and to Apollos’ credit, he sat at their feet and learned.

Secondly, in Matthew 18:15-20 it describes what to do when someone in church sins against you. And isn’t following a false teacher a sin? There is flesh involved. So in the case of Mt 18:15, even though the verse says ‘if a brother sins against you’ and technically they have not sinned against you personally but against Jesus as the Head of the Church, the restoration began in private.

I think that the spirit of the Acts and Matthew verses tell us that the first step is to go to the sister you want to talk with quietly in private. So that is what I do.

What I’ve done is something like this: “I see you are carrying a new Joyce Meyer book. I have learned some things about her that I think are important for you know. Are you open to me putting my thoughts down on paper and sharing it with you later?” That way they do not feel sandbagged or cornered. If they say “No, thanks, I really like Joyce Meyer,” then pray for them. The Spirit might help them change their mind, and they might return to you later and ask for that information. Sometimes a nudge takes a while.

In another case the opportunity just seemed right and presented itself when it came up in a conversation. I gently and with tears, pleaded for the woman to turn from her false doctrine. She was a good listener and at the end asked me to offer her some biblical advice on it. I did so the next time we were together, I gave her a paper. I believe the 2nd situation came about because I had been praying over the issue and asked the Lord to make a way for me to bring it up. Prayer is always an important component of these conversations, before, during and after.

Since emotions run high in these situations I’ve found it helpful to have written the bible verses and issues down on paper so they can look at it later. It also guards against being misquoted. Third, it helps me maintain my focus. In these kinds of talks with sisters, since women are emotional, we tend to stray to the emotional side of the conversation. Having the verses written down helps keep the focus on Jesus. It is the Word that changes minds, not our tears, and not our persuasion.

Other pastors I listen to said they have asked to person to coffee at a later time some they could discuss it. This works too.

If you are considering approaching a sister who has strayed into false territory in lockstep with a false teacher, I encourage you to read the Bible.org link above, and to pray. Ultimately the battle is the Lord’s and the battle is spiritual. The dear sister we wish to approach is not the enemy but the spirit behind her favored book or curriculum is the enemy.

As you pray, the Lord will open your mind as to what He wants you to do in any given situation. And don’t be startled if the person gets huffy or angry. The more genuine a sister is, the more they may get embarrassed thinking that they have been spotted doing something wrong by carrying this book or touting that teacher, because they truly love the Lord. If they do indeed truly love the Lord, they will calm down and thank you for it later.

If they don’t, then you have a clean conscience before Jesus because you tried. Continuing to pray for them will help soften any disharmony in your own heart you may feel after the encounter. 🙂

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Further Reading

Responding with Grace: When Emotionalism Trumps Discernment

Nine Reasons Discerning Women are Leaving Your Church

Posted in body, charles spurgeon, church life, encouragement

Seeking the perfect church

EPrata photo

The quote is a little longer than the video. Read the quote then watch the clip. It’s only a few seconds.

Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all!

And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us…

All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world!

As I have already said, the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers.

The Church is the nursery for God’s weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family.”

Charles Spurgeon, “The Best Donation,” (No. 2234) an exposition of 2 Corinthians 8:5 delivered on April 5, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England.

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Further reading

Essay: Pew-Hoppers: How to Shepherd Church Shoppers – Part 1
Essay: Pew-Hoppers: How to Shepherd Church Shoppers – Part 2

Sermon: Personal commitment to the church – Part 1

Posted in church life, marriage, ministry, single ladies, singleness

Joy in singleness, though you’d never know it by Christian social media or church life. Part 1

 Joy in Singleness, part 2: Gifted to live singly for Jesus
Joy in Singleness, part 3: Famous biblical singles
Joyful in Singleness part 4 conclusion: Personal Note and Opinion

I am currently reading through and studying 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul outlines responsibilities of life to marrieds & singles, and mentioning young men, virgins, and widows. It is a great chapter. Paul is specific, loving, and clear, focusing on marriage, lust, and conjugal duty.

Marriage is the foundation block of society, procreation is strongly urged, (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 9:7, Psalm 128:3, Proverbs 31:27), and divorce is considered a violent act, (Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:6,8; Genesis 2:24). As a matter of fact, unauthorized divorce prohibits men from serving in leadership capacity, (1 Timothy 3:2) so it is no wonder that churches spend a good deal of time preaching to and discipling marrieds. There are many marriage retreats, books, Sunday School curricula, and sermons given over to the subject. This is a good thing.

Marriage, the Bible tells us from the beginning of the Book of Genesis, is a divine institution. That is, it is something established by God. It is a covenant that is given by God and for that reason it is traceable to him. It has also been consecrated by him, for he has blessed the marriage relationship. And, of course, it’s the means of the preservation of the human race. ~S. Lewis Johnson, Marriage Counsel, part 1

 However oftentimes so much attention is given to married couples and their issues, that an overly myopic focus descends upon any given church that leaves the other half of the population out. There are young unmarried men and women, honorably divorced folks, and widows and widowers. Because of the excessive focus on marriage and married Christians’ concerns, one would be led to believe the entire church was composed of couples. But it is not so.

Census data from 1970 show that 70 percent of American households contained a married couple. The 2006 report from the Census Bureau disclosed that fewer than half of American households are now maintained by married couples. Eye on Unmarried America

In this series I’ll focus on singleness, its joys, benefits, church life, and ministry and civic opportunities. There are several kinds of singles: singles who are frustrated in the waiting for what they know will be God’s gift of marriage to them, or who have had that gift and are now widows or widowers and are grieving the loss. Some in today’s world are temporarily single also by the fact that their spouse is serving overseas, working far away, or are incarcerated. (Yes it happens). For these singles, a different kind of ministry is needed. Many of these people desire comfort and love and support as they yearningly await a change in their marital status.

Those aren’t the singles I am discussing. I’ll address the fact that even if some singles are acknowledged and gasp! ministered to, not all singles are in a waiting room for marriage. Some, like me, know they will be single forever, and are happy with that gift. Yes, gift. Rarely is the gift of singleness discussed in the church, or even preached about, looked upon as an enhancement to the Body, let alone acknowledged as a normal segment of the family He is creating.

Churches are so committed to the idea of a family-centered church that they’re just not sure how to handle rising rates of singleness. “Are Single People the Lepers of Today?

Further, I’ll reject the subtle cloud that usually attaches to a discussion of singles: depression, sadness, longing. There are singles out there which God has granted a life of joy and fulfillment, with nary a search for the soul mate in sight but only having eyes for the Groom.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it. (Matthew 19:11)

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 Joy in Singleness, part 2: Gifted to live singly for Jesus
Joy in Singleness, part 3: Famous biblical singles
Joyful in Singleness part 4 conclusion: Personal Note and Opinion

Posted in church life, giving, malachi, sow a seed, tithing

Does the New Testament teach Christians to offer a 10% tithe?

Short answer? No.

For many Christians in a New Testament church it might come as a surprise that a 10% tithe, or a tithe at all, is not required.

Lon Hetrick at Average Us wrote a blog entry titled Why Pastors Should’t Teach Tithing and it begins this way–
Were you taught the tithing system? I was. I believed it, practiced it, and even preached it myself. But no more. The system goes like this:

  1. Tithing is commanded by God.
  2. Therefore, Christians should give 10% of their income to their “storehouse” (i.e. the church you attend).
  3. God promises to bless people who tithe.
  4. Failing to tithe is disobedient to God, robs Him of His due, and shows that you don’t trust Him to provide for your needs with the remaining 90% of your income.
  5. God withholds His blessing from non-tithers, and they forfeit the peace of mind and security which tithers alone enjoy.

And then Mr Hetrick continues with 4 reasons why he thinks Pastors shouldn’t teach tithing.

As much as I love church life, there is one thing that I have a peeve about. It is when a church decides to carry debt, the tithes and offerings start to decline, the powers-that-be get nervous, and the pastor decides to browbeat preach a series of guilts messages to the congregation on tithing. I am not speaking of my own church but I have seen it happen.

Here is Dr MacArthur at Grace to You on tithing:

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn?
Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9

Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).

The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel.

Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite’s tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today’s income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.

All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified.

New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government–a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel.

The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

“This article originally appeared here at Grace to You” in accordance with their general copyright policies.

Personally I believe the bible is clear on giving. We are to meet each other’s needs, to give generously, and sacrificially. We are to support our pastor and staff at the church. I believe firmly the bible teaches this.

But I don’t like it when pastors who don’t preach verse by verse feel free to pick and choose topics to preach on depending on their personal preference, fears, wants, vengeances, or perceived needs of the church members or the church in general. In this way, when money is tight, their go-to passage is Malachi and we’re off and running with the pressure to give. (‘Oh, nooo, the balloon payment is coming up!) This often means that people are targeted, or passages get left unpreached, and sometimes the meaning gets twisted, as so often the Malachi verse does. Worse, the giving that is done after these sermons tends to be emotional rather than cheerfully biblical.

If a pastor preaches verse-by-verse, money sermons will only come up when the text demands it. Everyone will be clear that the sermon isn’t a personal point he’s making to drive home, targeted at a church need, a controversy only a few know about, or personal likes or dislikes of the pastor, but simply a providential organization of sermons ordained by God as His under-shepherd preaches through the text.

Giving sacrificially doesn’t mean giving wantonly or recklessly. So often the Malachi verse on tithing is not only incorrectly applied to New Testament churches but is taken a step further by telling people to sow a seed, and you will reap a harvest, meaning, give money you don’t have and it will come back to you ten fold just because God will be so impressed with you. We are to shepherd our finances, not throw money away on a great adventure of testing God. You notice the Christians in the book of Acts sold property to give to the church, but they didn’t take a loan, give the loan money, and expect God to subsidize the debt until the property was sold off. They sacrificed, had the money in hand first, and laid it at the Apostles feet. (Acts 4:34).

Here is an essay called Their Greed, Your Seed: Apostasy in the Church Part 3, addressing the ‘sow a seed’ issue.

I urge you to search out the New Testament biblical stance on tithing, and giving- because the two are not the same. Be sure to give generously as your finances allow, biblically and cheerfully!

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Further reading:

Does the teaching on tithing in Malachi 3:9-10 apply to us today?

What does the bible say about sowing and reaping?

Are we obligated to tithe?

Tithing

9 Marks of a Prosperity Gospel Church