Ask Your Preacher
I have two children who are into meth. I have been praying for them along with other family members. I don't understand why these prayers are not being answered. Is there a certain way I need to pray or ask? I'm new to this, and think I'm not asking in the right way.
I also feel like Satan is starting to attack my family and me for praying. Does this happen? I have no peace, and I'm afraid to go to sleep because of nightmares... but those could be from all the stress I have in my life.
If you can suggest any books to help me become stronger in my faith and learn to pray, I would greatly appreciate it; I'm too embarrassed to ask. Thank you for your time.
Mom Who's Trying
Dear Mom Who’s Trying,
God desires to answer our prayers, and He says that a righteous christian’s prayers do make a difference (Pr 15:29, Jas 5:16). However, when we pray about things, it isn’t as simple as we just get what we are asking for because God has multiple principles that He must keep in balance at all times.
If God simply forced people to become better people because you prayed for them, that would remove our freedom of choice. After all, He tells us that we reap what we sow in this life (Gal 6:7). We make certain choices that get us addicted to sin… we must make choices (often painful – like disclosing the sin) to remove the addiction. The fact that you are praying for your children is wonderful, but they are responsible for their own decisions, and God won’t force them to change if that isn’t what they want.
As far as books we would recommend, the best thing you can do is read your Bible – especially the Psalms – to get you through this time of grief. The Psalms are songs and prayers written by faithful people who sometimes suffered greatly. That is our number one recommendation to someone in your situation – read the Psalms. Otherwise, if you need help finding a congregation, we would be happy to help you find one.
I thought that when you die in the flesh, you enter into rest. So how is it that people are visited by spirits or deceased family members? If the dead are all raised together, and no one sees the Father until Christ’s return, how are these things possible?
The idea of ghosts cannot be found in the Bible, and they aren’t real, no matter how many stories people come up with, thinking they have been visited by dead ancestors. Ghosts are supposedly the souls or spirits of those who have died. These dead souls are presumed to be wandering the Earth, interacting with the living from time to time. The Bible tells us what happens when we die, and there is no Halloween-ish spiriting involved. Jesus told the story of a wicked, rich man and a faithful, poor man named Lazarus in Lk 16:19-31. When these two men died, the rich man immediately woke up in torment, and Lazarus was escorted to Paradise (Lk 16:22-23). This is what happens when the righteous and the wicked die. There is no wandering or ghostly haunting. In fact, the rich man was specifically told that the dead aren’t sent back to the earth to preach or affect the course of events here (Lk 16:27-31). We die, and then we wait to face the judgment (Heb 9:27).
It seems like you say that at least 75% of all churches in America are guilty of not being biblically-based churches and not taking the Bible seriously enough simply because they have youth pastors or senior pastors, right? In which case, they would be a bad church to go to even if the Word of God were being preached and the church was prospering because they were applying biblical standards to their ministry and making it the church's mission to teach others how to go out and spread the gospel. I am not trying to argue with you; I am just trying to take what you say and apply it to most churches in the U.S. I believe you’re right that the Bible never mentions these terms (youth and senior pastors) in the Bible and that they are man-made terms, but what would you then call your minister to the youth if there was one in your church?
Too Many Technicalities
Dear Too Many Technicalities,
If a congregation isn't doing what the Bible says (i.e. they aren't following God's standards for church leadership), they aren't preaching the whole counsel of God, and just because a church is prospering doesn't mean that it is doing what God wants. Prosperity and faithfulness aren't the same, and the number of people in the pews isn't necessarily an indication that you are doing what God wants.
Part of the confusion here is that you are using the words 'pastor' and 'minister' interchangeably. Those are two different jobs. If someone is going to be a pastor, he must meet the qualifications found in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Tit 1:5-9… do these two men (the youth pastor and senior pastor) do that?
On the other hand, a minister is anyone that preaches the gospel. Pastors make decisions for local congregations, but ministers just preach and teach; they have no authority to make congregational decisions. A minister doesn't have to meet the qualifications of a pastor. A pastor is an elder, an older man, but Timothy was a minister (1 Tim 4:6), and he was a young man (1 Tim 4:12).
Another thing to consider is that ‘youth pastor’ means that ‘one that leads the youth’, but ‘senior pastor’ rarely means ‘one that leads the seniors’. A senior pastor is typically a man that has been given more authority than other pastors in the church – once again, something we never see in the Bible. When congregations don't pay careful attention to how their leadership should be run, they are bound to make other major mistakes in other important areas.
I recently started reading the Bible, and I’ve always believed that when you die, you either go to heaven or to hell. Well, as I was reading, I came across some words that kind of confused me. It mentioned that when the rapture happens, those who have already died will be called up to heaven first. So my question is: what happens to the christians that die before the rapture? I know it says they are at peace; I’m just looking for other ways to receive this message.
What Happens Next?
Dear What Happens Next,
There is no such thing as a “rapture” event, and all the faithful that die wait for the Judgment Day in a place called ‘Paradise’. The Rapture is a supposed event that will precede a great tribulation on this planet right before the millennial reign of Christ. This teaching has become quite popular in some religious circles, but it has nothing to do with the Bible’s teachings on the end times – read our post “In The Air” for an in-depth look at why there is no Rapture.
Having said that, God did tell us that when Jesus returns, we will all be caught up together into heaven – the dead and the living together (1 Thess 4:15-17). But until that Day… what happens to people when they die?
When a christian dies, they go immediately to Paradise and await the day of Judgment, the day when our eternal heaven is created. Jesus said that angels immediately carry faithful souls off to Paradise (Lk 16:22, Lk 23:43), and the wicked are immediately sent to torments (Lk 16:23). Both Paradise and torments are part of Hades (‘Hades’ means ‘the unseen place’). When you die, your spirit is separated from your body and goes to Hades (Jas 2:26). On the Day of Judgment, all the souls will be emptied out of Hades (1 Thess 4:14), and all the bodies will be removed from the graves (1 Thess 4:16). On that great Day of Judgment, every soul shall be judged (Heb 9:27). After that judgment happens, this earth will be destroyed, and a new, heavenly, spiritual world will be created for the saints to live in eternally (2 Pet 3:12-13).
Is it sinful to become aroused? Or have sexual desires?
Sexual desires are not wrong, but like all desires, they must be fulfilled in only righteous ways. God designed men and women to be attracted to one another. God even said, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen 2:18) God's solution to Adam's loneliness was marriage to Eve (Gen 2:24). Sexual desires are normal, but we must guard against sinful temptations that are often associated with those desires – temptations like adultery, pornography, and other types of fornication. We should flee from all those things (1 Cor 6:18). However, the desires aren't in and of themselves wrong; they are just designed to be fulfilled in marriage (1 Cor 7:1-2).