Ask Your Preacher
God bless you, brethren. Now that I've come to the light of Christ, I'm super conscious of all the darkness that is in the world… so much that it disgusts me. The world is in bondage to sin, and they love it. I oftentimes try to make people aware of it, and when I do, I just come off like a "hater" or a pessimist. And they're right. I feel like I'm a hater and a pessimist; I don't approve of hardly anything anymore. I even get upset when I see how blind the world is to all the immorality and sin they're involved in… everything from the music they listen to to the way women dress nowadays really upsets me. Am I right to feel this way? As believers, what should our attitude be like towards a fallen world that lives in darkness and loves it?
Dear Dark Countenance,
Bitterness and anger are such easy things to slip into, and many a christian has been destroyed by their frustration with sin and the world’s ways. It is a dark world, and it can be discouraging and overwhelming at times. The solution is to view the world the way Jesus did – with compassion. When Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem, He wept over their faults and pitied their fate (Lk 19:41, Matt 23:37). Jesus viewed the world as being full of people that needed a Savior (Jhn 4:35) and rejoiced over every lamb He could rescue (Lk 15:4-7). Christians live in hope of eternity with God (2 Tim 4:8), and that hope is our anchor (Heb 6:19). Allow your love of the Lord and your love for your fellow man to strengthen you through this life (Mk 12:29-31). Your future is bright – have compassion on others, and maybe you might be able to brighten their futures as well.
Is there a way to ask God a question and get an answer?
God doesn’t answer us by directly speaking to us. God speaks to us through His Word (Rom 10:17) and His Word says that we should pray without doubting (1 Tim 2:8) and that we should ask in faith (Jas 1:6). God says there are very few things that will cause Him to ignore our prayers. Read “Whose Prayers Count?” for the list of things that will make God turn His back on your prayers.
God answers our prayers according to His will, not ours – in fact, we should pray that the Lord’s will be done (Jas 4:15). Having said that, it is perfectly appropriate to keeping praying until the answer is clear – God is pleased with the consistently prayerful (1 Thess 5:17). He wants you to ask over and over – until He gives you an answer. David prayed vehemently for the life of his child until the child died (2 Sam 12:22-23). Paul prayed for his sickness to be removed three times until God told him to accept the pain (2 Cor 12:8-9). Cornelius’ prayers were constantly before the Lord until Peter was sent (Acts 10:4-5). Even our Lord prayed in the garden repeatedly that He might not have to die on the cross (Matt 26:39). The key in all these circumstances was that the requests ceased when God answered. Once God made His decision apparent, whether it was yes or no, acceptance began.
God never gets tired of hearing from His children. Christians are to constantly seek Him in prayer. The most direct example of this is Christ’s parable of the unjust judge in Lk 18:1-5. Christ taught that parable so that “men ought always to pray, and not to grow weary”. God wants to hear from His people. So don’t stop asking for help; He is listening.
I have a friend who, back in January, was possessed by a demon; she growled on the phone with me once, I hung up, I got a message from 'her', and I get scared from the memory! I pray to God every night, and my faith is true. I ask Him to keep my family, friends, and I safe forever; will He? I just want a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ because I don't want to be attacked by a demon.
On The Defensive
Dear On The Defensive,
Evil spirits are real, but they were cast out and their powers greatly reduced by Christ and the apostles. Demon possession ended not long after the days of Christ. Jesus made it clear that one of His jobs was to bind the devil and take His strength away by casting out his demons (Matt 12:28-29). When Jesus’ disciples had come back from their evangelism trips and related to Him that they had cast out many demons, Jesus told them that they were defeating Satan by getting rid of Satan’s demonic minions (Lk 10:17-18). When Jesus and His disciples cast out demons, they did it permanently (Lk 8:30-33) and bound Satan by their acts. We no longer have to deal with such overt attacks by the devil because he has been bound by Christ’s sacrifice (Rev. 20:2). Demon possession no longer exists; the devil must use subtler methods to deceive us now.
My wife and I are members of a church of Christ, the kind that has a fellowship hall, youth minister (and stuff like that), but no instrumental music (or anything like that). My point is, my wife and I have become a little uncomfortable with this zeal and not being able to find the authority for these things. We went to a very conservative type of church of Christ, like your congregation (from what I gather from y'all’s answers). There is more to it than that but, my question is: what can we expect with a change from a "liberal" type of church of Christ to a "conservative" church of Christ?
Motivated To Move
Dear Motivated To Move,
Oftentimes, the worship service at liberal congregations doesn’t seem all that different from the worship service at conservative ones, but the principles behind why they each do what they do is vastly different.
The fundamental difference between the more conservative congregations and the more liberal ones is how closely they adhere to the Bible pattern. In a conservative congregation, you will see the focus of the church being upon preaching the truth to the lost, teaching the saved, and carrying for needy saints – that’s it. A conservative congregation believes that the church is sufficient to do God’s work, and they shouldn’t delegate that work out to another organization like a missionary society. Conservative congregations support preachers directly, and they send funds directly to care for other needy christians… just like the Bible pattern. This is why conservative congregations are sometimes referred to as ‘non-institutional’. They don’t believe any other institution should take the place of the church – not a missionary society, not a federation of congregations pooling their funds, not a group of preachers controlling the direction of multiple churches.
The other thing that you will see is that a conservative congregation believes that there is a difference between individual responsibilities and congregational responsibilities. Individuals have the responsibility to spend time together and socialize with other christians. Individuals have the responsibility to do good to all mankind and be involved in their community as helpers of the poor and friends to strangers (Gal 6:10). The church has the responsibility to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). You won’t see the church using its resources (including its building) for purely social activities such as potlucks – it is our responsibility as individuals to show hospitality (Heb 13:2). You also won’t see the church getting caught up in secular charity activities like food pantries for the poor or community activism – it is our responsibility as individuals to effect change in our communities and help our neighbors. When we blur the lines between what the church should be doing and what individual christians should be doing, we get into all sorts of trouble. Conservative congregations do their best to keep those lines as distinct as the Bible does.
In short, a conservative congregation will always show you Bible authority for what it does. We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent (Rev 22:18-19).
I've read Leviticus 11:9-12 which says, "And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you.” Help; I love shellfish! Please advise.
Under the New Covenant, all food is clean. God sent Peter a vision of unclean beasts and told Peter to “kill and eat” (Acts 10:13). Peter told God that he would never eat anything unclean (Acts 10:14), and God informed Peter that He had cleansed all meat (Acts 10:15). Jesus also specifically said that all food is clean in the New Testament (Mk 7:19).
Later on, the apostle Paul reiterates this idea and says that all meat is clean unless it offends your conscience (Rom 14:20). So, feel free to eat pork, rattlesnake (if you dare), and clams without fear of sin.