Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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International Interest

Friday, January 14, 2011
I just want to ask if it is wrong if I often go to church and have my daily Bible study at home?  And can you recommend a church to us; we live here at Yokohama, Japan?  Thank you.

Sincerely,
Konnichiwa

Dear Konnichiwa,

We aren’t sure if it is a typo or not, but if you are asking if it is okay to go to church often and study your Bible at home… the answer is ‘Yes!’.  However, since you are looking for a congregation in your area, we are guessing that were asking if it is okay to study at home and not attend services.  The Bible commands christians to not forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25).  Though in some parts of the world it is difficult to find a faithful group, most countries do have congregations that follow the Bible, and they are often closer than you think.  God never intended for christians to function without a local church.

We found what looks like a faithful congregation in Tokyo that teaches and preaches the Bible (we have no personal experience with them though); Tokyo isn’t too far from your location.  Here is a link to their website – Ochanomizu church of Christ.  It is significantly harder to find English-speaking congregations in non-English speaking countries.  There may be a congregation even closer – contact that group, and they will probably have more information than we can provide.  If any of our faithful readers have more specific information on a congregation near Yokohama, please send it to us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.  Also, if the writer of this question will e-mail us with their contact information, we can pass along any additional details we get.

The Safest Day Of The Year

Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Will the world end on December 23rd, 2012?  My little brother was wanting to know.  I already know that no one knows when it will end.

Sincerely,
Soothing Sibling

Dear Soothing Sibling,

Feel free to do your shopping for the holidays in 2012; the world isn’t likely to be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012.  For those of our readers unfamiliar with the 2012 doomsday schtick… we will take a moment to explain this New Age teaching.  The idea that the world is going to be destroyed or transformed on December 21st (some say 23rd), 2012 is based off of the Mayan Long Count calendar.  The Mayan Long Count calendar is a non-repeating calendar that was used in Mesoamerica during the height of the Mayan civilization, and because it is a non-repeating calendar (unlike the Roman calendar which repeats every 365 days), it eventually runs out of days.  The last day on the Mayan Long Count calendar is December 21st, 2012.  Therefore, some folks are expecting a cataclysmic change to the world order on that day.

Now that we’ve explained what it is, let’s explain what it isn’t.  It isn’t right.  We here at AYP are pretty sure that if God was going to hide the date of the end of the world in a conspiracy-theory fashion, He probably wouldn’t hide it in the calendar of a blood-drinking, child-sacrificing, snake-worshipping heathen culture.  But, hey, maybe that’s just us… (insert friendly chuckle here)

As you mentioned, God promises that He will return like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2).  If there is one day this year that you can be guaranteed Jesus won’t return – it is Dec. 21st, 2012.  Your little brother can sleep easy.

The Inward Man

Sunday, December 26, 2010
Dear Readers,

Several days ago, we received a question that broke our hearts.  The individual asked for anonymity and to not reveal the details of their situation.  We wish to honor this person’s request, but we also believe their plight is faced by many of today’s youth.  This individual is so disheartened by their physical appearance and the bullying and ridicule they have received because they aren’t “pretty/handsome” that they are considering ending their own life.  With today’s culture of air-brushed models, plastic surgery, and Botox… is it any wonder that body image issues are so common and vicious in today’s youth?  With this issue in mind, we are posting our response to this suffering soul in the hope that others who are silently struggling may have a Bible answer to comfort their hearts through the awkward years.

Sincerely,
The AYP Team

Dear Hurting One,

Let us begin by saying that each heart has its own sorrow, and we will not pretend to know exactly how you feel – only you and the Lord know the depths of your pain (Pr 14:10).  Our hearts go out to you as you deal with the greatness of your bitterness and pain.  If we may, we would like to offer you a few verses to consider...

The apostle Paul had a physical infirmity that made him grotesque and despised by many (Gal 4:13-14).  Paul prayed and prayed for God to remove this illness (he called it his "thorn in the flesh" - 2 Cor 8:7), and God's answer was 'no' (2 Cor 12:8).  God told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that Paul would learn to be a better man because of his weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  In fact, Paul said that the things that God had for him to do in this life were so great that the thorn in the flesh kept him from becoming arrogant (2 Cor 12:7).

Have you ever considered that your physical appearance is a blessing disguised as a curse – that is what Paul found.  Because Paul wasn't “beautiful”, his character had a chance to shine brighter, and his message of salvation had opportunity to reach those who wanted the truth... not just those looking to listen to the next pretty face.  Even Jesus is described as being someone of unremarkable appearance (Isa 53:2).  Those who heard Jesus loved Him (Jhn 7:46), but His looks never converted a single soul.  We say all this to tell you that physical beauty isn't as important as you think – and it isn't important to God.  God treasures the inner character and beauty of a godly soul (1 Pet 3:3-4).  It is the hidden man that God desires to shine forth.

Nothing we have said removes your suffering, but it may give meaning to it.  All of us age, and our bodies decay, but it is our inward man that matters (2 Cor 4:16).  Every life is precious, including yours.  You are capable of great things if you are willing to have faith that your life is more than your looks.  If you end your life because of your physical appearance, the devil will have won and defeated another soul with his deceptive lies.  Be different and let your inward man shine forth.

Plan To Be Surprised

Saturday, December 18, 2010
I was saved as a youth, grew apart, and recently started to re-develop my relationship with Christ.  I recently saw an article about Judgment Day, and it quoted various verses and did the math to come to the conclusion that the Judgment Day is May 21, 2011.  From my point of view, the math and verses quoted make sense.  This leads me to my question.

What is your opinion of this article, and how valid do you think it is?

I've added the link to the article below.

The website was: http://www.familyradio.com/graphical/literature/judgment/judgment.html

Sincerely,
Planning Ahead

Dear Planning Ahead,

Many verses that people use to discuss the end of time are used out of context.  Be careful in taking too much stock in what you read on the internet (which is ironic, since this is a website!) or hear through other people.  What matters is what the verses say, not what people think or assume (for example, the article you referenced assumes that the flood happen in the year 4990 BC… an assumption that they never prove, but their entire calculation is based off of).  Most of the articles you find, including this one, that try and pin a date to the end of the world are just a slick ruse that twist Scripture.  2 Thess 2:1-2 specifically warns us about getting too caught up in worrying about when the end will come.

The clearest passages we have on the topic are 1 Thess 5:1-10, 2 Pet 3:3-12, and 1 Cor 15:50-58.  All three of these passages clearly outline what needs to be known about the end of the world.  It is always a good idea to look at the clearest passages first before looking elsewhere.

First, it will come like a thief, and no one will be ready for it (1 Thess 5:2, 2 Pet 3:10).  If the day will only come when no one is expecting it, it only makes sense to not worry about trying to pinpoint that day since God says it is impossible!  The apostles didn’t know when the Lord would come back; if they couldn’t know, we certainly can’t!

Second, we should live every day like it will be our last (1 Cor 15:58, 2 Pet 3:11-12, 1 Thess 5:8-9).  If you are always living a holy and faithful life, it won’t matter when Christ returns.  Live faithfully, and whether you live or die, you will be ready to meet your Lord (1 Thess 5:10).

Watching The Clock

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Will the world end in 2012; everyone is talking about it, and it scares me.  I think it will end in 2012, but I don't know what date (like everyone is saying on December 21).  The Bible states He will come like a thief in the night; the sad part is that 90 percent of the world is not ready for it.  People are out drinking, partying, having sex with other people, and other sinful things. The Bible gave us signs of the end, and we had almost all of the signs.  What do you think?  I am just waiting for the rapture.

Sincerely,
Two Years To Go

Dear Two Years To Go,

Feel free to do your shopping for the holidays in 2012; the world isn’t likely to be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012.  For those of our readers unfamiliar with the 2012 doomsday schtick… we will take a moment to explain this New Age teaching.  The idea that the world is going to be destroyed or transformed on December 21st (some say 23rd), 2012 is based off of the Mayan Long Count calendar.  The Mayan Long Count calendar is a non-repeating calendar that was used in Mesoamerica during the height of the Mayan civilization, and because it is a non-repeating calendar (unlike the Roman calendar which repeats every 365 days), it eventually runs out of days.  The last day on the Mayan Long Count calendar is December 21st, 2012.  Therefore, some folks are expecting a cataclysmic change to the world order on that day.

Now that we’ve explained what it is, let’s explain what it isn’t.  It isn’t right.  We here at AYP are pretty sure that if God was going to hide the date of the end of the world in a conspiracy-theory fashion, He probably wouldn’t hide it in the calendar of a blood-drinking, child-sacrificing, snake-worshipping heathen culture.  But, hey, maybe that’s just us…

You are right; God promises that He will return like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2).  As you mentioned, the world is full of many unprepared people living sinful lives.  We would all be a lot better off if we stopped trying to guess the day everything will end and started trying to be prepared for when it does.  We also noticed that you used the term “rapture” – we recommend you read the article “Caught Up”; it should help clear up some of the misconceptions about that term.

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