Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I have a question regarding the church family.  I attend a church where there seems to be a lot of animosity between families and friends, especially women.  I know this is not how the church is supposed to act; they are supposed to be loving and accept one another no matter what.  I stay totally out of any drama that comes between other people, but I continue to find myself not being invited to other christian's events (birthday parties, showers, general get-togethers), and I feel it is because I am a part of a particular "family" or friends with particular people.  It feels so hurtful, especially when I have made an effort to talk and invite these other families and friends to my own events.  It hurts to see that I am affected when I have nothing to do with any of it, and I don't understand why they act so unloving towards each other.  I want my christian family to act how Christ would have us to.  It makes me feel unwelcome and disliked.  What can I do?  Why can't we all just get along?


Dear Wallflower,

The church has always struggled with disagreements between individuals… particularly grudges between women.  When Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he was so proud of them and considered them to be faithful, wonderful, and dear to his heart (Php 1:7-8).  In the entire Philippian letter, Paul only had one problem to address – a dispute between two women (Php 4:2).  Euodia and Syntyche were both faithful women that served the Lord with whole hearts (Php 4:3), but they had some disagreement with each other.  We say all this just to tell you that what you are experiencing has always been a battle for the Lord’s people.  Good people find themselves in disagreements, and it affects the church – even Paul and Barnabas battled it out at one time (Acts 15:37-40).

So what do we do when others don’t act the way they ought and when we feel hurt and maligned?  The first thing is to make sure you are always part of the solution and not the problem.  Don’t allow yourself to become bitter because of how others behave (Heb 12:15).  Continue to make an effort with others and don’t grow weary in doing good (2 Thess 3:13).  Change only happens when we rise above each others’ faults and strive to receive each other with love (Rom 15:7).  The other practical thing to do is to avoid gossip, slander, and murmuring against others.  Whenever there is animosity between people, it is very easy for those around to get caught up in choosing sides, passing judgment, and spreading tales.  Pr 26:20 says that a contention can’t continue to spread if people keep their tongues quiet.  You can’t change everyone else, but you can give them the benefit of the doubt (just like Paul did with those two women in Philippi), and you can try and be a vehicle for pure, forgiving love in the Lord’s church, so the future of your congregation is more unified, not less.  All you can work on is yourself and leave others to do the same.  Though the road be bumpy, when everyone works on themselves, the church is always blessed.


A Well-Driven Nail

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Did Noah have authority to use metal in the construction of the ark?


Dear Builder,

Every command that you find in the Bible has specific and general qualities to it.  For example, when God told Noah to build the ark, He told Noah to use a specific kind of wood (gopher wood – Gen 6:14) and build the ark to specific dimensions (Gen 6:15-16), but He left the details of how to cut, fasten, and construct the ark up to Noah.  It would have been wrong for Noah to use oak or birch, and it would have been wrong for Noah to change the dimensions of the ark, but aside from that, Noah had freedom to use his own wisdom in the engineering of the ark.  The things that God was specific on, Noah had to be specific on to… but the things God was general about, Noah had freedom to decide for himself.

Our understanding of God’s command to build the ark out of gopher wood is that gopher wood was to be the primary construction material.  If Noah had needed metal to fasten the gopher wood, there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that.  However, if Noah had decided to replace the gopher wood with a metal construction, that would have been wrong because it would have gone against God’s command.


Set A Date

Monday, April 11, 2011
What does the Bible say about dating?

Kiss And Tell?

Dear Kiss And Tell,

The Bible gives no specific statements about how to look for a future spouse. God instead speaks to the attitudes we must have and the dangers that exist in the world of romance.

  1. Don’t force it.  Song of Solomon is an entire book devoted to romance and marriage.  The chorus of that book is the same over and over (SS 2:7) – it is a warning to avoid forcing relationships merely for the ‘fun’ of romance.
  2. Avoid all appearances of evil (1 Thess 5:22).  Make sure to never put yourself in a situation with someone of the opposite sex that would compromise your (or their) reputation or morals.
  3. Who they are matters more than how they look.  The Bible praises godly spouses for their character (Pr 31:10).  Beauty fades, but one’s values endure.  Make sure you are spending your time getting to know the person for who they are and for what they find important.
  4. Treat them with respect.  The Scriptures tell us to treat people of the opposite gender like brothers and sisters (1 Tim 5:2).  How would you want your siblings to be treated?  Make sure you are behaving in a godly way toward anyone you are dating or courting.
  5. Surround yourself with godly advice.  When we are in the here and now of a romantic relationship, we often get caught up with our emotions and lose perspective.  That makes it especially important to get the advice of those around you who are wiser and less biased.  Parents, grandparents, and other trusted advisors should be sought out as you search for a mate.  Surrounding yourself with many good counselors protects you from making a emotional decision that has lifelong consequences (Pr 11:14).

Marriage is one of the greatest blessings that God gives mankind.  If we do it God’s way, finding a spouse can be a joy and lead to a lifetime of happiness.


Ink Stains

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Is it in the Bible that if you get tattoos on your body and body piercings you’re condemned to hell?

Pierced To The Heart

Dear Pierced To The Heart,

Tattoos were 100% sinful in the Old Testament – in the New Testament they are sinful some of the time. The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.

In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:

  1. Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
  2. People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
  3. You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
  4. Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
  5. Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
  6. Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.

We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.


Passing The Test

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Hey guys, you don’t know how much your answers mean to me.  I really appreciate it, and I have another question on my mind that burdens me a lot.  Does God test us, or does He allow us to be tested?  Is it something similar to temptation when He allows us to be tempted, but doesn’t tempt us?

Trial Trouble

Dear Trial Trouble,

The Bible says that God never tempts us to do evil (Jas 1:13).  God never purposefully puts us in a situation with a desire for us to sin.  The devil wants to devour you with sin, but God never does (1 Pet 5:8).  However, God does put us in situations in order to find out what we are made of.  God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1).  God put Abraham in a position where he could succeed or fail – but the key is that God wanted him to succeed (Gen 22:14-18).  Abraham was tried by God (Heb 11:17), so God could bless him.  God may put us in circumstances that are difficult, but His desire is always to benefit us.

On the other hand, the devil tempts us for the purpose of destroying us – just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1).  That is why God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor 10:13).  The devil tries to set us up for failure, and the Lord tries to set us up for success.


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