Ask Your Preacher
When my grandpa passed away, we believe he came back here on earth temporarily for two reasons:
- Right when he died, my uncle said nothing about it to his wife or kids; he was planning on telling them later, but Ellie (four at the time, I think) ran up to him and said that Grandpa died! She sounded happy because she didn't know what it meant. My uncle asked how she knew, and she replied, “Grandpa told me!” and skipped away. My uncle asked his wife if she told Ellie, and she said, “No.”
- At his funeral, my older cousin, Maddie, was walking with Ellie, and Ellie said, “Ooh, angel!” and Maddie asked, “Oh, you want to see the angel?” as she led her over to the angel statue. “No, over there!” Ellie jerked away from her and pointed to midair where there was nothing.
Do you think that was my grandpa coming back to pay her a visit? If so, why her? Grandpa was a very great Catholic, and their whole family is as well. Thank you.
Your experience is fascinating, and we can’t explain to you exactly why Ellie said what she did, but we can ease your mind that it wasn’t your grandfather returning from the dead. Luke 16:1-31 tells us what happens to both the faithful and the wicked when they die. Jesus told His disciples about the death of two men: Lazarus (a faithful man) and a wicked, rich man. When they died, Lazarus was immediately escorted by angels to Paradise (Lk 16:22), and the rich man immediately awoke in torment (Lk 16:23). An important detail is that the rich man was told that neither he nor Lazarus could return to earth to visit the living (Lk 16:27-31). Once we die, we go to face God and await the judgment (Heb 9:27). Which is why it is so important that we prepare ourselves by becoming christians (read “Five Steps To Salvation” for details) and becoming active members of His church (read “Finding The Church” for how to find a faithful congregation).
I am a mother of two, and we don't attend church. I tell them as much as I know about God and Jesus and the Bible. I am scared, though, every time I start to think about the end of days… not because I am not saved but because I heard that when the rapture comes, in heaven you will not know anyone. I want to know my kids. I want to watch them grow up and have babies of their own. I think I may be misunderstanding something. Please help me understand what is going to happen and if we are all going to be together and know each other. Please, I get so sad about all of it.
Dear Maternal Instinct,
The Rapture isn’t a biblical teaching, and it won’t actually happen (read our article “Up In The Air” for a detailed explanation of what the Bible teaches about the Rapture). However, you are still left with your concern about what heaven will be like (heaven is still very real! – 1 Pet 1:3-4). In heaven, we have every reason to believe we will know each other. In fact, if the transfiguration is any indication, we will know everyone in heaven, not just those we have known in this life. When Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Olives, both Moses and Elijah appeared and talked to Christ (Lk 9:30). The remarkable thing is that Peter recognized both of those men even though they had been dead for many centuries (Lk 9:32-33).
Now, if we may, we’d like to address your statement that you don’t go to church. It is a sin to not attend church; the Bible says so (Heb 10:24-25). God uses the church to strengthen each of us individually, and He expects all of us to provide our effort to help strengthen others in His church (Eph 4:16). The church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Every faithful christian of the Bible was commanded to be a member of a congregation because God knew that we shouldn’t stand alone. It is a wonderful thing that you are teaching your children about Jesus and training them up to love Him (Pr 22:6). We would be happy to help you move forward in your service to Christ by putting you in contact with a faithful congregation in your area. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us help you fill in that piece in the puzzle of your spiritual life.
When I married my wife, we made sure to put God right in the center. We all know God has a good bit to say about husbands and wives. However, her family attends a Baptist church, and they call themselves christians. My wife and I attend a church of Christ (where I have attended for the last twenty years), and my wife was added to the Lord’s church shortly before we were married. We both really try to live our lives as Christ would want us to. My problem is her family asks us from time to time to go to their church. I show them Scripture for the reasons why we cannot attend with them, and they still get angry and hateful. Even after simple Scripture is shown to them, they still get angry. Do you have any advice on a better way to handle something like this?
Your problem is shared by many faithful christians around the world. Jesus said it best, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." (Mark 6:4). Family is the absolute hardest to make an impact with. Jesus' own family mocked His religious choices (Jhn 7:5). You are making the right stand by not bending your morals for the sake of family (Matt 10:37). As long as you are giving a kind, loving, and biblical answer to their requests, you are doing well. It may very well be your uncompromising example that eventually peaks their interest. After all, if they are so interested in sharing your spirituality, you can always invite them to visit your church or have a family Bible study together.
Is using deadly force ever justifiable in defense of self or family? If there were ever a situation where there was complete societal breakdown (no government or police), food and water became scarce, and armed looters and gangs searching for food became a real threat to your family, would you be morally responsible to defend your family by any means necessary? Would God expect you to turn the other cheek or fight for survival?
Dear Getting Prepared,
When the Bible commands us to not kill, the word used for ‘kill’ is the word that we would use for ‘murder. Some of the most faithful men in the Bible were soldiers and had to kill people in the defense of their country. David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), and yet David killed many people as a soldier. Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion soldier (Matt 8:8-10). The first Gentile convert was Cornelius, a well-known Roman soldier (Acts 10:22). When a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist what they needed to do to live a faithful life, he told them to be honest and faithful… but he never told them to stop serving in the military (Lk 3:14). These are all examples of the difference between murder and self-defense (or war-time killing).
In the Old Testament, God made specific rules that allowed an individual to kill if they were defending their home or family (Ex 22:2). In Lk 22:35-39, Jesus tells His disciples that persecution will begin after He leaves and that they ought to “buy a sword” – this is certainly an endorsement of self-defense. All of these point to the fact that God distinguishes between defensive force and vigilante murder.
Can you help me solve my dad and sister's problem with fighting each other?
Dear Suffering Sibling,
One very sad truth is that you can’t live other peoples’ lives for them. We all are responsible for our own decisions and lifestyles (Php 2:12). You can’t fix the situation between your sister and father, but you can make sure and not add to the fire. Don’t take sides, and don’t get in the middle of their disagreements (Pr 26:17). Make a decision to be a person that loves peace and pursues it (Ps 34:14). As much as you are able, be at peace with both your father and sister (Rom 12:18). Your example can remind them that life doesn’t have to be full of arguments and strife. Let your light shine (Matt 5:16). We can’t guarantee that will change things, but we can guarantee that you will always have a clear conscience regardless of what they choose to do.