Questions and Answers
Q: What advice would you give to a divorced Christian woman or a single Christian woman about Christian "singles groups?"
A: For the most part, I would not encourage any single woman to order her social life or church life around a singles group. I think all Christians, married or single, should be serving the Lord and using their spiritual gifts in the church for the building up of the saints. Singles tend to separate themselves out and live, often, a very selfish life. As far as meeting a potential husband, I think a much better place would be through simply serving in and worshiping in the church. Then she would be the type of woman that a truly godly man would be seeking, and he would be the type of man that she should be seeking. Christian singles groups don't really give you an accurate picture of what someone's commitment to the Lord is really like.
Q: We have several teenage girls in our church who dress immodestly in church and away from church. It bothers me and I'm not sure if I should say anything or not.
A: Girls and women who dress immodestly are either naive and foolish (as to the effect they are having on men), or they are "harlots in their heart" and know full well the effect they are having on men. Either way, if you are the witness, you need to try in love to help them.
If they are older teens or adults, I would approach them privately (Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 18:15) and explain that they are immodest in dress. Use Scripture such as 1 Timothy 2:9-10. Don't get caught up in a discussion of "how tight?" or "how long should the skirt be?" This is a heart's attitude and you don't want to make a lot of rules for them to follow. You want them to glorify God and honor Him in how they dress. Exhort them to repent and give God glory. Be very kind in your tone of voice but very clear with your examples.
If it is a younger teen dressing immodestly,
I would go to her mother and tell what I had noticed and my concern.
Don't gossip about this to others. If she doesn't repent, then
bring in two or more witnesses (Matthew 18:16). And if she doesn't
repent, then go to the elders in your church. That's all you
can do except, of course, to continue to pray.
Q: How did you become a counselor?
A: That's an interesting question
because I never wanted to be a counselor. After I was saved,
I only wanted to teach ladies' Bible classes. For five years
at a solid Bible teaching church, the pastor helped me to prepare
to teach the ladies' class. I did Bible books such as Genesis,
John, and Colossians. Then providentially the Lord brought Lou
Priolo to our church and I heard him speak. I really liked how
practical and biblical he was. So, my husband and I took classes
from Lou so that we could learn more personally and for me to
be a better Bible teacher. It was Lou who after getting to know
me suggested that I take the biblical counseling training. I
told him, "No, thanks. I'm a teacher, not a counselor."
Later my husband, Sanford, encouraged me to give the counseling
a try. That's when I took the training seriously. So, the Lord
made me a counselor even though it would not have been the path
I would have taken. Of course now I'm glad He did.
Q: What does it mean to be trapped by vain regrets?
A: All of us have things that we
regret whether it was something stupid we said or something sinful.
We have choices that we made in life that if we had it to do
over again, we would change. Reliving the past and playing it
over and over is not honoring to the Lord. Biblically deal with
the past by asking forgiveness or paying restitution when needed,
but then honor the Lord by not dwelling on it. Being consumed
with past regrets is one way to be very selfishly focused. Instead,
we should be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and honoring Him
and graciously accepting the forgiveness that we have in Him.
Q: Where do you start to help your husband understand that reading "Playboy" magazine, etc. is bad and not God's way?
A: If your husband says he is a Christian,
I would lovingly but in a clear, straightforward manner, tell
him "Honey, pornography is a sin. It is this kind of thing
that the Lord Jesus was talking about when He said, '...but I
say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her
has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Matt.5:28).
Your thoughts cannot be pure when looking at this, and you must
repent. I love you. Is there anything I can do to make it easier
for you to give this up?" Then, if he does not repent, proceed
with the Matthew 18:15-18 process. For much greater detail, read
chapter fourteen in "The Excellent Wife" book.
Q: What is the correct way to raise
godly children with an unbelieving husband so that they will
respect their father?
Q: I have a friend who confided in
me that she thinks about killing herself. She made me promise
not to tell anyone, but I am worried. What should I do?
Q: Sometimes I go
into angry rages especially when my children are acting up. I
always feel guilty and apologize, but it keeps happening. Is
there anything that can help?
Q: Sometimes I go into angry rages especially when my children are acting up. I always feel guilty and apologize, but it keeps happening. Is there anything that can help?
Q: How can a person
achieve emotional wholeness?
Q: How can a person achieve emotional wholeness?
Q: I read a book that
said in order for me to overcome my hurt over what someone did
to me in the past that I must come to the point where I forgive
God. Is that true?
Q: I read a book that said in order for me to overcome my hurt over what someone did to me in the past that I must come to the point where I forgive God. Is that true?
Q: What does it mean in 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 that the "woman is the glory of man"? I thought we were to only give God glory.
A: In the sense of worship and praising
His worth as the only true God and our Creator, certainly we
are only to give glory to God. In the sense of honoring
another person or helping them to succeed in their tasks, we
can certainly give glory to man. For instance, a child
who honors their parents through respectfully obeying is giving
their parent glory as others notice. Also a wife who honors
her husband through joyful, respectful submission and helping
him has the attitude of glorying in the role that God has given
her. She is in that way, as Paul wrote, "the glory
of man" (1 Corinthians 11:7)
Q: I am shy around others I don't know. In fact, I avoid new people at church and work. Is there anyway for me to become more comfortable?
A: The "bottom line" answer is
to turn your focus from "self" to "loving others"
(Matthew 22:39). Feeling uncomfortable around people you do not
know well results from what you are thinking. If you think,
"I don't know what to say. I don't want to be here.
I've got to get out of here," you will feel very uncomfortable
and maybe even panicky. If you think, "I don't feel
comfortable but I am going to do whatever I can to make the other
people feel comfortable. God will give me the grace to obey His
Word that says, 'Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
but with humility of mind regard one another as more important
than yourselves'" (Philippians 2:3), then you will eventually
begin to feel more comfortable. Giving God glory by obeying
Him has to be your overriding goal, not feeling comfortable.
Being loving and gracious to others is a virtue. Pray
for wisdom and grace. Turn from your self-focus through
putting on an others' focus. The Apostle Paul put it well
when he wrote in Philippians 2:4, "do not merely look out
for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of
Q: Is it all right for women to be elders and deacons in the church? I have heard some women say that "God has called me to this ministry."
A: This is a question that I am asked more
and more often. The issue is being debated even among conservative
evangelicals. The answer is simple -- no, it is not alright
for women to be elders and deacons or pastors. The reason
is from Scripture. If you were to read 1 Timothy and 2
Timothy and the book of Titus, you would learn much about the
role of the pastor. When the word "pastor" is
used, the same Greek word is often translated "overseer,"
"bishop," or "elder." So whether it
says "elder" or "pastor," it is the same.
Clearly in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus the elder or pastor
is a man -- for example, "the husband of one wife"
(1 Timothy 3:2) and "if a man does not know how to manage
his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?"
(1 Timothy 3:5). Concerning the deacons, they are also
men. For example, "Deacons likewise must be men of
dignity... these men must first be tested..." (1 Timothy
3:8-10). The women have a different role -- not inferior
but different. They are to teach the younger women (Titus
2:3-5), and they are to "adorn themselves by means of good
works" (1 Timothy 2:10). In addition, the Apostle
Paul wrote in his instructions to the churches, "But I do
not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,
but to remain quiet." (1 Timothy 2:12). Women have
told me that they feel "called" to be ministers or
teachers to both men and women. Certainly it is good to
desire to minister to others. But when our feelings tell
us one thing and the Scripture another, we have to go with the
Scripture. God has greatly gifted women as He has men,
and it is a joy for all Christians to use the spiritual gifts
He has given them. The only way to truly give God glory
is to serve Him and use our gifts within the parameters clearly
set forth in His Word.
Q: I have a "secret" sin that no one knows about. I control my weight by making myself throw up after I eat. I feel really foolish and embarrassed and don't want anyone to know. What do you think?
A: Making yourself throw up after
you eat is what medical doctors call bulimia. Bulimia is
wrong for two reasons: First, it can cause serious medical
problems such as damage to your esophagus and your teeth. Second,
it is a sin because overeating is gluttony, throwing up is a
lack of self-control, and wanting to be thin so badly that you
are willing to sin is idolatry.
Q: What is nouthetic counseling?
A: Nouthetic (pronounced "new-thet-ick)
counseling is biblical counseling. The word nouthetic is an English
word that Jay Adams' coined from the Greek word, noutheteo. Noutheteo
is a New Testament word that means to exhort, admonish, give
instruction, or to place or set into the mind. The reason that
Jay Adams' called biblical counseling "nouthetic" instead
of simply "biblical" counseling was to differentiate
his view of counseling from those who claimed their model was
"biblical" even though they integrate various psychological
theories into their beliefs. Nouthetic counseling uses just the
Scripture (which is God's inspired Word and absolute truth).
It is based on believing that God really has "given us everything
we need pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).
It is also based on the belief that when a person has a problem,
you cannot go deeper inside that person than the "thoughts
and intents of their heart" (Heb. 4:12). Nouthetic counselors
are usually pastors and sometimes lay men and women who exhort
and encourage (in love) those who need help with their problems.
They give those they work with great hope and, at the same time,
accountability. Many unbelievers have come to faith in Christ
through biblical counseling, and many believers have, through
the sufficiency of Christ and His Word, solved their problems
in a short period of time. If you would like to know more about
nouthetic counseling and/or training opportunities, I would invite
you to visit the web site of the National Association of Nouthetic
Q: Last week I woke up in the middle
of the night and became very frightened. My heart began
to pound, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I woke my
husband up, and he talked to me, and I finally calmed down. Do
you think there is something physically wrong with me?
A: It sounds like you had a "panic
attack." A panic attack is a physical reaction to
being frightened. There is a release of adrenalin into
your blood stream from the adrenal glands which are located above
your kidneys. The adrenalin gives you a surge of energy,
causes your heart to beat faster and to pound, your hands to
tremble, and you to feel short of breath. It is a natural
reaction by your body to a frightening experience such as realizing
you are about to have a wreck or waking up and your house is
on fire. It is your body's way of preparing you to run
or take action. When you have a panic attack and there
is no seemingly good reason for it, it is especially frightening.
Sometimes, there is a physical problem in the body that
can cause the attacks, and that's why I recommend that anyone
experiencing panic attacks have a good physical. Most often,
however, the physical examination does not reveal a cause. In
that case, the panic is coming secondarily from what you are
thinking. For example, if I am getting ready to board a
plane to fly somewhere and think over and over, "I just
know this plane is going to crash!", by the time the plane
is in the air I will be feeling nervous and perhaps feeling panic.
Instead of playing over and over a make-believe, worst
case scene in my mind, God wants me to "think on things
that are true" (Phil. 4:8). Things that are true are
those that conform to reality. The truth is "the plane
is not crashing. It is highly unlikely to crash.
And if it does, God will at that time give me the grace to go
through it." The truth also is "God will not
give me more than I am able to bear..." (1 Cor. 10:13).
Panic attacks are miserable. They frightened people
so badly that their greatest fear becomes that of the fear itself.
Usually a panic attack lasts about twenty minutes, and
you will begin to feel better. The solution is to repent
of your unbiblical thinking and to bring God into the circumstance.
We are to be like the Psalmist who wrote, "What time
I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." As you work at
thinking rightly about your circumstances and about God, He will
help you to feel less and less panic. Worry and fear do
not have to consume you. It is a very selfish and sinful
habit but can be overcome through showing love to God by obeying
His Word and love to others. (See Phil. 4:6-9, and I highly recommend
reading Jerry Bridges' book, "Trusting God.")
Q: I work hard taking care of my family but struggle with resentment because I have no time or energy for myself. Is this a sin, or is it all right to desire time for myself?
A: There is nothing wrong with desiring
time for yourself (within reason); but there is a difference
between desiring time for yourself and being resentful if you
cannot have it. This is a difficult question to answer
without more details such as -- Do you think your husband is
being sinfully unreasonable in what he is requiring you to do?
Do you have several small children and even with your husband's
help you are in "survival mode?" Are your children
older but not doing their share of the work? Are you disorganized
or lazy and does that create additional, unnecessary work?
Have you over committed to projects outside of your home? If
your answer is "yes" to any of these questions, then
you should respond appropriately depending on the question.
Q: My husband says he is a Christian and goes to church. However, there is no fruit in his life that I can see. What should I think?
A: My Daddy used to have an expression,
"I wish I had a nickel for every time I ...". Well,
I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me this
question. Ultimately, only God can know the answer. However,
there are some clear guidelines in Scripture. For example,
if your husband says he is a Christian and that he's trying to
be good enough to earn his way into heaven, then he is clearly
not a Christian. Salvation is by grace and not works. (Titus
3:4-7). Also, if he believes there are many ways to God
and it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere,
then he is not a Christian. The Lord Jesus Christ is the
only way to God. (Acts 4:12). Most of the time, though, it is
not that easy to discern when a husband is not a Christian.
Q: I know the Bible teaches women to be submissive to their husbands, but what about a wife whose husband screams, cusses, and hits her?
A: The Bible clearly teaches that
wife is to submit herself to the authority of her husband (Ephesians
5:22; Titus 2:5; Colossians 3:18; I Peter 3:1). The Greek
word for "be submissive to" is hupotasso. It
is a military term that means to be ranked under in military
order. Hupotasso in no way implies that the wife is inferior,
but it does clearly mean that she has a different role. Her
role has been given to her by God. Many women believe themselves
to be submissive because as they have told me, "I would
never sell our house without my husband's permission!" However,
they are sometimes only submissive in the big decisions but contend
over less important matters. In contrast, the Lord expects
us to be faithful to obey in the small things as well as the
large. So, wives are to be submissive to their husbands
with one exception - if he asks her to sin. In a case such
as her husband asking her to sin, she would then have to obey
God (who is the higher authority). Most husbands do not
ask their wives to sin, but some of them do. Those that
do ask their wife to sin might ask her to look at a pornographic
movie or have an abortion. Others might ask or even demand
that she cover up his sin. It is a sin for a husband to
scream, cuss, shove, or hit his wife. It is also illegal
for him to hit her. So, there are two issues in the question
above: (1) the wife is to be submissive to her husband in all
things unless he asks her to sin and (2) the righteous, appropriate,
loving manner in which the wife should biblically try to help
her husband who is sinning. A wife whose husband is sinning
should appeal to her husband. And if he does not repent,
she should tell him what he is doing is not right (based on Scripture
if he is a Christian). Either way, she would give a gentle,
loving reproof (Galatians 6:1). If he does not repent,
her further course would depend on whether he is a Christian
or not. If he is a Christian, she should follow the steps
of church discipline in Matthew 18:15-18 and if necessary call
the police based on Romans 13:1. If he is an unbeliever,
the church has no authority over him, but, of course, the police
and courts do. [For a detailed explanation of resources to help
a wife whose husband is sinning, see The Excellent Wife book,
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