Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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The Beginning Of The End

Monday, January 24, 2011
I'm in a little bit of a dilemma.  I have a couple of friends who I love to death, but lately, I have been having second thoughts about them.  They're both seventeen years old and are already drinking quite a bit.  One of them is a pretty heavy smoker, and both of them smoke weed and get high when they aren't hanging out with me.  The heavy smoker also has sex a lot with a guy who doesn't even want a relationship with her.  Neither of them go to church, nor do they have the slightest interest in going, and whenever I try to talk about it, they start cussing about church.  When they're around me, they don't drink, don't smoke, try hard not to swear, and respect that I'm not into all of that stuff.  Like I said already, I love them to death.  They're two of my best friends and have been since middle school.  I was hanging out with them the other day and kind of started thinking they weren't the best people to be hanging out with.  I am a member of the church of Christ, and I was wondering if you could help me out with what I should do.  Thanks.

Sincerely,
Keeping Questionable Company

Dear Keeping Questionable Company,

When friendships begin to fall apart, it is a very painful thing, and that is why you are struggling right now.  Your life has taken a different course than theirs.  Your life is built on a different foundation, and those differences become more prominent the older you get.  You are at a crossroads and need to make a decision.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. You may have heard the verse – “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33).  Right now, your friends are showing a certain level of respect for your spiritual and moral values, but that is changing.  As you said, they mock church and God and try not to swear (which means they do swear some of the time).  The more they continue to live ungodly lifestyles, the more that behavior will seep in.  If you continue to spend time with them, that behavior will influence you no matter how strong you are.  Solomon was the wisest man on the planet, and bad company turned him into an idolater (1 Kgs 11:4).  If it can happen to Solomon, it can happen to any of us.
  2. You have tried to help them, but they aren’t interested.  It is a good thing for christians to befriend unbelievers and try to make a difference in their lives… Jesus did this (Matt 9:10).  However, when someone shows no interest in spiritual things, it is time to shake the dust off your feet – no matter how hard that may be.  Jesus said it best when He warned, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and rend you.” (Matt 7:6).
  3. God tells us to obey our consciences… and your conscience is telling you something right now (Acts 24:16).  Your conscience is a gift from God.  Your conscience makes you feel bad when you are doing something you believe is wrong.  God tells us to always have a clear conscience (2 Tim 1:3).  Listen to your conscience; it is right on the money with this issue.

These verses don’t make it easy for you to make an exit from these friendships, but hopefully, that gives you some comfort that you will be doing the right thing.  What a blessing that the church has people like you that love the Lord even when it means making difficult decisions.

A Counselor's Tongue

Sunday, January 23, 2011
I know a person dealing with depression and bisexuality.  I need help on what to tell them on their path to the right way.

Sincerely,
An Encouraging Friend

Dear An Encouraging Friend,

We won’t pretend to be able to give you an entire lesson in counseling in a single post.  AskYourPreacher is simply not a good forum for that.  However, we can give you a few Bible verses that might be of comfort to your friend.

  1. 1 Cor 6:9-11 points out that many christians have had the same struggles and problems… and they successfully conquered them.
  2. Mk 10:27 says that all things are possible with God.
  3. Some of the greatest people of the Bible have dealt with great sorrow and depression – read our post “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy” for examples.
  4. A faithful congregation can make a huge difference in someone’s life because each member helps to strengthen the other members (Eph 4:16).  Encourage your friend to start attending a faithful church – we can help you find one for them (e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).

Parental Paradox

Saturday, January 22, 2011
To follow up on your response about calling men ‘father’ (the post entitled “Parental Paradox”), are you saying it is all right to refer to men as ‘father’ as long as you are not putting them above God?  Including, not only a biological parent but even a person of spiritual fatherhood?  Some folks in my Lutheran congregation refer to our pastor as ‘father’ or ‘reverend’ or even ‘brother’ but never revere him above God as you pointed out in your post.

Sincerely,
Taking Titles

Dear Taking Titles,

In order to understand why it is wrong for religious leaders to take the name of ‘father’, we need to put that statement in context.  Jesus said to not call anyone ‘father’ (Matt 23:9) at the same time as He condemned the scribes and Pharisees for loving the praise and honor of men (Matt 23:4-6).  When ‘father, ‘rabbi’, and ‘master’ are given as titles of prestige and honor, this is exactly what Jesus was condemning.  The titles you mentioned are often used in exactly the same manner – ‘reverend’ especially.  The word ‘reverend’ is never even found in the Bible.  The only one who deserves our reverence is God (Heb 12:28).  Anytime that religious leaders take on titles like these, it is a sign that they are seeking to distinguish themselves from other christians.  This is the exact opposite of what the apostles did (Acts 10:25-26).

Singular Sensation

Friday, January 21, 2011
Is there one true church? Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  Notice He said ‘church’ not ‘churches’.    Also, the Bible says, “Narrow is the way to heaven, and few will find it, but wide is the way to destruction, and many will go there in.”

Sincerely,
Looking For The One And Only

Dear Looking For The One And Only,

There was only one church in the first century, and today there are well over 33,000 different denominations all professing to belong to Christ.  This is not only tragic, it’s wrong.  Christ died for one church, and He gave us one doctrine (Eph 4:4-6).  Christianity can only be preserved in the “unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3).  This means that the only way we can have unity is to use the standard the Holy Spirit has given us – the Bible.

All the denominations have their own creed books, statements of faith, organizational structures, and opinions.  Christ’s church has none of those.  It has one book, the Bible, as its rule and standard for all behavior.  It is our guide for all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).  It is the book that was handed down once and for all to the saints (Jude 3).  We cannot have faith without hearing this Word (Rom 10:17), and we cannot please God without obeying its commandments (Jhn 15:14).

The Catholics trust their Vatican leadership, the Protestants reform a broken system, and the community churches pledge loyalty to their communities and social programs.  The only solution to the religious confusion is a radical step… restoration of Bible-only principles.  Let us go back to the Bible for everything that we do, and if we cannot find Bible authority for something… we must refuse to practice it.  A church that finds its roadmap and structure in the Bible alone is the real solution to the division that exists in the religious world.  When the Bible speaks, let us speak – and when it is silent, let us be silent.  There are congregations that take this attitude and follow the one pattern for the church.  If you would like help finding one, feel free to e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.

A Chosen Lifestyle Pt. 2

Thursday, January 20, 2011
I am the friend in the post "A Chosen Lifestyle".  Will you give me some Bible verses to help beat homosexuality; please, I haven't done anything else, but for some reason, this is hard.

Sincerely,
Befriended

Dear Befriended,

There is only one Bible answer for your struggle with homosexual pornography.  God tells us to flee from fornication (1 Cor 6:18).  A good example of fleeing fornication is Joseph when he was seduced by Potiphar’s wife.  Joseph knew that it was wrong for him to lay with another man’s wife (Gen 39:7-9), and so when she caught him alone in the house – Joseph fled so fast that he left his garment behind (Gen 39:11-12).  Don’t put yourself in situations that make it easy to look at pornography.  Move your computer to a public room; install accountability software like Covenant Eyes that discloses your browsing history to a trusted friend.  Make a plan to beat this sin... which brings us to another great verse.  When Daniel was tempted to eat the unclean food (food that was sinful for a Jew to eat) of the Babylonians, Daniel “purposed within his heart” that he would not defile himself (Dan 1:8).  That is exactly what you need to do.  Purpose in your heart, plan ahead, and decide that this behavior will no longer defile you.

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