Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Think Before You Speak

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Vain prayer?  How much prayer isn't vain if we realize God knows what’s in our hearts?

Brief Speaker

Dear Brief Speaker,

There are two major verses that deal with the amount we should pray.  Matt 6:7-8 deals with one extreme.  Jesus says to avoid “vain repetition” because your heavenly Father already knows what you need.  Prayers that are purposefully lengthy instead of heartfelt are useless.  The Catholic practice of ‘praying the rosary’ is a great example of vain repetition.  The same words reiterated by rote over and over again don’t become more effective – God heard you the first time.  When we say the same words over and over without any respect for the fact that we are bringing a real petition before the Creator, we are senseless babblers.

The other extreme is dealt with in Lk 18:1-8.  Lk 18:1 says that we should pray and never grow weary in prayer.  Jesus told a parable of a widow that petitioned a judge until he gave her an answer ­– and He praised the woman for her deliberate and persevering spirit.  God does want to hear from us, and He does want us to continue to bring our concerns to Him.  There is nothing wrong with repeating the same concerns and needs to God in a meaningful way on a regular basis.

In short, God desires thoughtful and regular prayer from His children on the issues that are pressing in their lives, not constant scripted chatter void of meaning and thought.

Building Bridges

Monday, November 08, 2010
My sister-in-law and brother-in-law lost their daughter to a terminal illness she was born with.  She lived many years longer than doctors advised she would.  My sister-in-law has always tried to be there for me over the years, but I have not tried to have a relationship with her other than when necessary.  I have never been there for her.  Her daughter's death has hit me like a ton of bricks and has made me realize that I am not the person I should be.  I should have tried to understand their circumstances; I should have allowed us to become great friends.  I want to write her and tell her that I am sorry that I have never been there for her and how brave I think her husband and her are.  Should I tell her how I feel?  Should I just move forward and be a better person to her now and in the future?  Or am I being selfish, and this is not about me, and this is my punishment?  Thank you for any help you can give me.


Dear Regretful,

As the old saying goes, “honesty is always the best policy”.  The Bible says it in different words: “know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (Jhn 8:32).  Truth always frees us and, in the long run, it always makes things better.  God tells us to treat others as we would have them treat us (Matt 7:12).  If you were in your sister-in-law’s shoes and received a letter explaining all the regrets you just mentioned, sorrow you feel for their loss, and bravery they have shown – how would you feel?  Only you know the specifics of your relationship with your sister-in-law and what is the best way to treat her, but if you consider her feelings above your own, you are likely to make a good decision.  Whatever you do should be about them and not about you – only when we place others before ourselves do we make healthy decisions (Php 2:3).

Exhorting The Exorcist

Sunday, November 07, 2010
Do evil spirits really exist, or is it something people over the years have made up, and we fall into it and allow ourselves to believe, therefore, allowing our minds to play tricks on us?  I need and want to know this.  If they do exist, do they just linger around in some homes causing harm (emotional or physical) to people?  And if they do exist, and do this, why and how can we make them go away?


Dear Haunted,

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.


Saturday, November 06, 2010
Hi.  My grandmother does hoodoo; I know the name after researching the things she owns.  Is she going to hell; is hoodoo a sin?  The biggest thing is that she is a christian, a very godly woman; she attends church every Sunday and even gives one hundred dollars every month.

Grandma Grief

Dear Grandma Grief,

Hoodoo is wrong and is a warping of the Scriptures.  Hoodoo is a term used for those who use the Bible like a magic spell book and protective talisman.  Instead of treating the Bible like an instruction book for life (which is the right attitude – 2 Pet 1:3, Rom 1:16, Rom 10:17), Hoodoo treats the Bible like a lucky rabbit’s foot.  If you open to the right Psalm or the read the proper verse at the proper time, you will be given special protection, health, or powers.  This is totally opposite of what the Bible teaches.  In fact, during the days of Paul, there were exorcists that tried this tactic.  A group of Jewish exorcists saw that Paul had power from God, so they tried to talk and act like Paul in order to receive the same powers Paul had… it didn’t work (Acts 19:13-16).  The Bible isn’t a tool to gain magical powers; it is a pattern for living (2 Tim 1:13).  No matter how much money your grandmother gives and how regularly she attends services, this practice is sinful.

Confident, But Not Careless

Friday, November 05, 2010
Where in the Bible does it talk about whether or not a saved person can or can't lose their salvation?

Insurance Policy

Dear Insurance Policy,

Yes, you can lose your salvation – but not by accident.  There are two extremes when it comes to discussing salvation.

One extreme is the Calvinistic view that your salvation is never in jeopardy, regardless of what you do.  This view is called ‘Perseverance of the Saints’ – the belief that if you are saved, you will always persevere without ever needing to worry about your salvation.  This view is simply not biblical.  Consider several verses from the book of Hebrews.  Heb 6:4-6 talks about ‘enlightened partakers of the Holy Spirit’ (certainly this refers to saved christians) who then ‘fall away’ and ‘crucify afresh the Son of God’.  There can be no doubt that this is talking about people losing their salvation.  Heb. 10:26-27 talks about knowledgeable christians rejecting the gospel and the terrifying expectation of judgment to come upon them.  Paul said he feared that his preaching had been in vain to the Galatian brethren because they were turning away from the pure word of God (Gal 4:11, Gal 1:6).  Yes, we most certainly must watch how we live and act so as to not miss the prize of heaven (1 Cor 9:25-27).

The other extreme is to have zero confidence in your salvation.  This is the attitude of “unless I am living perfectly, I am going to be lost.”  This view is also wrong.  Christ died to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15), and it is His blood that pays the price for your entrance into heaven (1 Pet 1:18-19).  Your salvation is not dependent upon perfect living but FAITHFUL living (Eph. 2:8): hearing God’s word (Rom 10:17) and then living by that Word (Jas 2:14-18) to the best of your ability.  Perfection is not a requirement of salvation in Christ – commitment is.  A committed christian, though he often may fall short of who he wants to be, can be confident in his eternal reward.

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