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Bittersweet Victory

Sunday, May 08, 2011
Do you think it's wrong for a christian to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden?  I was ecstatic and thankful to God when I heard the news, but then someone showed me Prov 24:17.

Sincerely,
Grateful

Dear Grateful,

There is a balance in the heart of a christian between rejoicing that evil has been vanquished and mourning over the death of a human being.  There are plenty of examples of God’s people rejoicing in national victories.  There is an entire song that was written when the Israelites celebrated the destruction and drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Ex 15:1-21).  There is always joy when the wicked are defeated (Pr 11:10).  It is appropriate to be happy when evil is destroyed because it means righteousness is prevailing (Pr 28:28).

However, this also must be tempered with the fact that a human that was made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) perished.  God says that it pains Him when the wicked perish (Ezek 18:23); we should also have that pain.  There is a bittersweet emotion within the hearts of God’s people when an evil person dies.  We rejoice that righteousness has prevailed, but we sorrow that a soul stained with sin has gone to face its Maker.

 

Painful Past

Thursday, January 27, 2011
How do I console my daughter who just revealed to me that a trusted grandpa figure exposed himself to her multiple times when she was younger?  This man knows the Bible and is involved in children’s ministry at a Christian church (not church of Christ).

Sincerely,
Horrified Mother

Dear Horrified Mother,

Oh, what dark and troublesome times we live in that such things would happen to children!  We can’t give you the exact words to say, nor can we give you a crash course in counseling via the internet.  What we can do is point out a few verses that deal with tragedy and may be useful when talking with your daughter.

  1. Listen.  Many times the greatest tool you have to help someone who is suffering is simply to use your ears.  You can’t remove the hurt they are feeling; each heart knows its own sorrows (Pr 14:10), but you can do a great deal of good by being “swift to hear” (Jas 1:19).
  2. Rom 8:28 is a great comfort to many people because it gives them hope.  God is able to turn tragedy into victory when we trust Him and live our lives His way.  All things are possible through God (Php 4:13).
  3. Some of the greatest people of the Bible have dealt with great sorrow, tragedy, and depression – read our post “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy” for examples.
  4. You may recommend reading the Psalms to her, if she asks for advice.  The Psalms can give great comfort to people when human words aren’t enough.
  5. Stand by her if she chooses to expose this man and his sin.  He is endangering others, and if she has the strength, justice should be upheld.  Darkness should be exposed by the light (Eph 5:11).

We know that these are a paltry help for such a great pain, but many times words are the least effective at times like this.  As we said, many times the greatest tool is a loving and listening ear.

The Inward Man

Sunday, December 26, 2010
Dear Readers,

Several days ago, we received a question that broke our hearts.  The individual asked for anonymity and to not reveal the details of their situation.  We wish to honor this person’s request, but we also believe their plight is faced by many of today’s youth.  This individual is so disheartened by their physical appearance and the bullying and ridicule they have received because they aren’t “pretty/handsome” that they are considering ending their own life.  With today’s culture of air-brushed models, plastic surgery, and Botox… is it any wonder that body image issues are so common and vicious in today’s youth?  With this issue in mind, we are posting our response to this suffering soul in the hope that others who are silently struggling may have a Bible answer to comfort their hearts through the awkward years.

Sincerely,
The AYP Team

Dear Hurting One,

Let us begin by saying that each heart has its own sorrow, and we will not pretend to know exactly how you feel – only you and the Lord know the depths of your pain (Pr 14:10).  Our hearts go out to you as you deal with the greatness of your bitterness and pain.  If we may, we would like to offer you a few verses to consider...

The apostle Paul had a physical infirmity that made him grotesque and despised by many (Gal 4:13-14).  Paul prayed and prayed for God to remove this illness (he called it his "thorn in the flesh" - 2 Cor 8:7), and God's answer was 'no' (2 Cor 12:8).  God told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that Paul would learn to be a better man because of his weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  In fact, Paul said that the things that God had for him to do in this life were so great that the thorn in the flesh kept him from becoming arrogant (2 Cor 12:7).

Have you ever considered that your physical appearance is a blessing disguised as a curse – that is what Paul found.  Because Paul wasn't “beautiful”, his character had a chance to shine brighter, and his message of salvation had opportunity to reach those who wanted the truth... not just those looking to listen to the next pretty face.  Even Jesus is described as being someone of unremarkable appearance (Isa 53:2).  Those who heard Jesus loved Him (Jhn 7:46), but His looks never converted a single soul.  We say all this to tell you that physical beauty isn't as important as you think – and it isn't important to God.  God treasures the inner character and beauty of a godly soul (1 Pet 3:3-4).  It is the hidden man that God desires to shine forth.

Nothing we have said removes your suffering, but it may give meaning to it.  All of us age, and our bodies decay, but it is our inward man that matters (2 Cor 4:16).  Every life is precious, including yours.  You are capable of great things if you are willing to have faith that your life is more than your looks.  If you end your life because of your physical appearance, the devil will have won and defeated another soul with his deceptive lies.  Be different and let your inward man shine forth.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Monday, January 11, 2010
I have a question about Christmas: we all know that most people tell their kids about "Santa".  I wanted to know what you thought about parents telling kids about this.  Is it wrong?  I guess it is a lie, and telling a lie is wrong...  I always thought that on Christmas, you should be thinking about what Jesus did for us and not be thinking about how much money we spent on each other.  I think it is not about gifts that we give each other but the gift that Jesus has already given to us.  I think that if we do give gifts, it should be from the heart and not because "Santa says you were a good boy or girl."  I guess I am confused on the subject.  I don't have kids, but if I ever do, I’m not sure what the right thing would be to do, and I’m sure that others out there are confused also.  That is another reason I am asking this question.  Thanks for your time and God bless!

Sincerely,
You Better Not Cry

Dear You Better Not Cry,

It is always wrong to lie; the question is whether telling your kids about Santa Claus is lying or not.  Many christians have many different views on this.  Some christians tell their children that Santa is imaginary because they feel that is honest.  Other christians allow their children to believe in Santa and simply don’t dissuade them from the notion until they ask point-blank.  No matter what, christians must in good conscience do what they believe is honest.  Lying is always wrong (Rev 21:8).  The debate isn’t over whether or not lying is a sin; the debate is over whether or not allowing your children to believe in something imaginary counts as being deceptive.  Each must do what they believe is faithful and right… it would not be good to be too dogmatic on this point.

Now let’s deal with the issue of Christmas.  Many people believe Christmas to be a spiritual holiday, but the Bible never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th (the truth is that no one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15).  Christians are commanded to remember Jesus’ death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:24-25).  Christmas is not a Biblical holiday.  There is nothing wrong with celebrating it as a family holiday, but it is wrong to teach that there is a Biblical foundation to it.

Circling The Wagons

Monday, August 17, 2009
America has me worried.  I think the government is corrupt and society is immoral.  I'm seriously thinking about taking my family and making a community like the Muslims have in some US states.  We'd have our own law and law enforcement.  No one could come in who wasn't a christian.  What should I be looking for to know when to leave?

Signed,
Not In My House

Dear Not In My House,

Christianity has suffered through quite a bit more than America has ever dished out.  As the book of Hebrews says, “You have not yet suffered to the point of bloodshed” (Heb 12:4).  No one would dispute that America’s government is corrupt.  The question is whether a christian should flee a society as soon as it is corrupt.  Biblically speaking, that is not the pattern we see.  Christians didn’t flee Jerusalem until christians began to be killed (Acts 8:1).  Paul wouldn’t leave a city until they forcibly persecuted him or sought his life (Acts 9:24-25).

There will always be corrupt governments, but within those nations are citizens who need the Gospel as much as everyone else.  Christians are supposed to be in the world… but not of this world (Php 2:15).  The answers to our problems do not lay in this life.  In this life, we shall always have troubles, but Christ has overcome the world (Jhn 16:33).  Our hope is in eternal life where God’s law will be the only law and only christians will be allowed in (Tit 3:7).  Until then, we must live within the governments of this world (Rom 13:1-2).

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