Ask Your Preacher
What are the duties of deaconesses that serve in the church?
Lady In Waiting
Dear Lady In Waiting,
There is no official position within the church of ‘deaconess’. The only time the word ‘deaconess’ is used is in Rom 16:1… and that is only in a couple of translations. Most translations simply translate the word ‘servant’ because that is what it means. A ‘deacon’ is a ‘servant’. The word is used numerous times throughout the New Testament and shouldn’t be viewed as a special position unless the text specifically declares it as such. For example, 1 Tim 3:8-13 discusses a type of servant (deacon) that has specific qualifications and authorities within the church. The context of that passage shows us that it is a specific type of servant/deacon. In Rom 16:1, we don’t have that sort of distinction. Phoebe is simply a christian that served others with what talents and strengths she had; it wasn’t an office within the church.
Where I meet with fellow christians, I have observed the following pattern: fifteen to twenty minutes prior to the start of class, members will be gathering, talking, and socializing. During the fifteen-minute break, there is more gathering, talking, and socializing. After the sermon, for minutes to an hour (or more), there is once again more gathering, talking, and socializing. Comparing the use of the building:
- 1 - 1.5 hours socializing
- 1.5 hours worship
Should this be concerning? How can we be more consistent?
There is nothing wrong with the pattern you have described – it perfectly matches what you would expect from a healthy, vibrant, and loving family of saints. God tells us that when we assemble to worship that all things should be done decently and in order (1 Cor 14:40). That means that we need to plan a time to meet and be diligent to organize services in a way that is cohesive, beneficial, and above all, biblically accurate. Your congregation’s leadership has decided that in order to do those things to the best of their ability, it takes one and a half hours.
Whenever you create a routine, there will be people that show up early to be on time (a sign of commitment) and people who stay after to take advantage of the time with others (a sign of devotion to others). What you have described is a sign that not only are people committed to attending, they are committed enough to show up fifteen to twenty minutes early, show up for both classes and services, and remain afterwards to spend time with others because the people matter so much to them. This is exactly the sort of attitude you would expect of those who are faithfully committed to the Lord and His people (Heb 10:24-25).
Where is God when we need Him most?
Dear Looking Around,
It is very normal to feel that God has forsaken us in our darkest hours. That is how David felt when he wrote Ps 22:1-2. What we must remember is that even though we may feel that God is far away, He never is. Paul said that God is near each one of us (Acts 17:27-28). In Job’s darkest hours, he felt abandoned by God… but God explained that there was a reason for Job’s suffering and that just because we don’t understand what is going on, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose. After God explained this, Job accepted that there were things he couldn’t understand (Job 42:1-3). Even in our deepest afflictions, God promises us that all things will work together for good if we serve Him (Rom 8:28).
I am a mother of two, and we don't attend church. I tell them as much as I know about God and Jesus and the Bible. I am scared, though, every time I start to think about the end of days… not because I am not saved but because I heard that when the rapture comes, in heaven you will not know anyone. I want to know my kids. I want to watch them grow up and have babies of their own. I think I may be misunderstanding something. Please help me understand what is going to happen and if we are all going to be together and know each other. Please, I get so sad about all of it.
Dear Maternal Instinct,
The Rapture isn’t a biblical teaching, and it won’t actually happen (read our article “Up In The Air” for a detailed explanation of what the Bible teaches about the Rapture). However, you are still left with your concern about what heaven will be like (heaven is still very real! – 1 Pet 1:3-4). In heaven, we have every reason to believe we will know each other. In fact, if the transfiguration is any indication, we will know everyone in heaven, not just those we have known in this life. When Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Olives, both Moses and Elijah appeared and talked to Christ (Lk 9:30). The remarkable thing is that Peter recognized both of those men even though they had been dead for many centuries (Lk 9:32-33).
Now, if we may, we’d like to address your statement that you don’t go to church. It is a sin to not attend church; the Bible says so (Heb 10:24-25). God uses the church to strengthen each of us individually, and He expects all of us to provide our effort to help strengthen others in His church (Eph 4:16). The church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Every faithful christian of the Bible was commanded to be a member of a congregation because God knew that we shouldn’t stand alone. It is a wonderful thing that you are teaching your children about Jesus and training them up to love Him (Pr 22:6). We would be happy to help you move forward in your service to Christ by putting you in contact with a faithful congregation in your area. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us help you fill in that piece in the puzzle of your spiritual life.
I am a member of Christ's church (as was established in 33 AD). I agree with all of the answers that you have given in this app, and I think it is a wonderful way of spreading God’s Word. My question is one that was brought to me by a friend that I was studying with recently. He is a sincere person and not a person that would make up stories that are false. The story he told me put me in a bind because I have no clue how to explain that his imagination is getting the best of him without hurting his feelings. He informed me that he had a dream that some voice said, "God has Satan by the snout." He then woke up and felt as though someone was grabbing his face and pressing his head sideways, and he could not move his body. He says that he whispered Christ's name, and the feeling went away, and he could once again move. He is thoroughly convinced that he was physically attacked by a demon. Please help me; I know what I believe on the subject but have no clue how to start explaining. Most of all, I want to explain with God’s Word and as little of my own words as possible.
In A Bind
Dear In A Bind,
It is always tricky to give an answer to someone who tells you, “I’m just sure I saw this or that!”… when you know it isn’t possible, but you don’t want to offend them. We’ve been in the same predicament ourselves on many occasions, and ultimately, we try and do what you are doing – just point people toward the pertinent verses. So here are some verses that you might bring up with your friend:
- Jesus stopped the demons from having the ability to attack people or possess them. In Matt 12:24-29, Jesus says that He came and “bound the strong man” (in reference to Satan) by casting out the demons. When Jesus cast the demons out of people – He cast them out of people for good. A good example of this is when Jesus cast the legion of demons out, and they begged to be cast into the pigs… this tells you Jesus not only cast demons out, He bound their future abilities at the same time (Mk 5:11-13).
- When demons were cast out, it was considered a great victory over Satan. Jesus gave seventy of His disciples authority to cast out demons, and when they returned to Him after visiting many cities, they rejoiced that they had cast many demons out (Lk 10:17). Jesus answered their joy by telling them that Satan was falling because of their work (Lk 10:18). In short, demon possession was becoming a thing of the past.
- Regardless of how your friend feels about this particular incident, the key concept that you are trying to convey to him is that our faith needs to be based off of Scripture… not personal experience. A key verse on this topic is Rom 10:17 – “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. Our salvation is dependent upon what the Bible says, not our own personal feelings and experiences which differ for each of us.
Hopefully, this is of some help to you. You will have to decide when, where, and how to bring the topic up, but those verses are where we would start.