Ask Your Preacher
I will be going to Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training in the military. I will also have the possibility of being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan after that. How will I be able to worship God when I won't be allowed to go to church? They will let me go to a church in basic, but I am guessing it will be a water-downed version of what God intended the church to be. What do I do?
Dear Sworn In,
You do what you can. Your situation is difficult but not unique. There have been many soldiers that have served Christ and country. Cornelius the centurion was the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:1), soldiers asked John the Baptist how to be faithful (Lk 3:14), and another centurion humbly sought Christ's help (Matt 8:9). So take courage, you are not alone in your dilemma.
I consider your situation to be a 2 Cor 8:11 case. You are accountable for what you are able to do. If you are out in the middle of the deserts of Iraq, you are physically unable to make it to worship services. Therefore, you are not condemned for that which you cannot do. An analogous situation would be a mute Christian; he is commanded to confess Christ with his lips (Rom 10:9), but nobody expects a mute man to do this because he physically unable. If you are able to make it to services - DO IT. If you can't attend, do what you can - pray (1 Thess 5:17) and study (2 Tim 2:15) on your own. Consider asking some christians that are veterans of the military for tips and advice on what they did to make it through. Whatever you do, make sure you have a support system in place for the days and years ahead. As much as possible, surround yourself with others that you can depend on spiritually.
Do angels intercede to word our prayers in the right language, or do we need to learn how to pray in accordance to God's will?
Lost in Translation
We need to learn how to pray in accordance with God's will, BUT there is one exception to this (I'll get to that last). Jesus' disciples asked him to teach them how to pray (Lk 11:1). Jesus didn't correct them. Instead, He taught them (Lk 11:2-4). There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to pray.
However, God does intercede for us in our prayers. Specifically, the Holy spirit intercedes for us (Rom 8:26). There are times when we don't know what to ask for, how to ask for it, or even whether we should ask for it! Sometimes we are in such suffering and agony that words can't express the struggles and agony we are in. In such cases, God says that our lack of eloquence won't hinder our prayers. The Holy Spirit who can examine our hearts makes sure the Father is aware of our deepest yearnings and concerns. Angels never translate our prayers, but God's own Spirit cares enough to listen and help.
I understand the limited responsibility of the local church in regard to benevolence. My concern is this: our preacher has been presenting lessons about how we should be helping out the poor and that the Bible commands it. The problem is:
- I'm not exactly rich; in fact, I'm barely making ends meet. But now I'm feeling sort of guilty after these sermons.
- If I try to help the needy, how do I do it? I mean, do I go out and try to find a poor person or give to the guy standing on the corner with a "Please Help Me Feed My Kids" sign?
I am a single woman with no retirement plan, no medical insurance, and a job that is "on call" and lucky if I get in a 32-hour work week. I know our idea of poverty in this country doesn't come close to real poverty faced in other nations, but I'm feeling pretty strapped right now. How do I fulfill my Christian responsibility to help the needy like our preacher says we should?
Times Are Tight
Dear Times Are Tight,
In order to fulfill the command to help the poor, we must have both means and opportunity. 2 Cor 8:12 tells us that God only holds us accountable for what we are physically able to do. You can’t give millions of dollars to charity if you don’t have millions of dollars to give! So take comfort; God doesn’t expect you to give beyond your capabilities.
In fact, the story of the widow and the mites in Lk 21:1-4 makes it clear that amount isn’t important to God, but effort is. As opportunities arise in your life to help those who are in need (needs can be physical, financial, emotional, etc.) – fulfill them. After all, Jesus said that even a cup of cold water counts when it comes to helping His service (Matt 10:42).
If you were convicted of being a sex offender over eighteen years ago, and now time has changed your life, and you have accepted Christ, should you still be condemned by the public? Does God always hold it against you for the sin that now has been forgiven by some?
Leaving The Past Behind
Dear Leaving The Past Behind,
Sin has both spiritual and physical consequences. The spiritual consequence of sin is eternal death unless we are forgiven in Christ (Rom 6:23). The physical consequences of sin still remain after forgiveness. God says that we reap what we sow (Gal 6:7). When we behave immorally toward a woman, lose our temper, mistreat others, are bad examples for our children, etc. – there are consequences to those choices. God does offer forgiveness if we place our faith in Him (read “What Must I Do To Be Saved” for more details), but that forgiveness doesn’t remove the consequences of sin in this life. David sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:2-4); God forgave David of the sin when David repented (2 Sam 12:13), but David’s child still died as a consequence of that sin (2 Sam 12:14). A sex offender can be forgiven if they turn to the Lord, but the consequences of that sin will still follow them in this life.
Hello again, and may God continue to bless you all. My question is concerning a trend in the Lord’s church and its consequences. I am having trouble concerning fellowshipping with the denominational world. I don't believe it is a good idea for the Lord’s church’s members to be thrown up together with speakers that are not Christians… i.e. at Christian youth rallies, inviting them in during Bible study, or holding breakfast with them to show our support for each other. We are to be in the world, NOT of the world. I think it shows an acceptance of their false doctrine, and waters us down… not to mention confusing our own on where we stand and why.
I don't hate the sinner, just the sin, but we need to draw the line and say, “That's it.” Thanks a lot.
There is nothing wrong with studying with people from the denominational world in hopes of converting them to the one true church of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4-6), but it is dead wrong to support false teachers.
2 Jhn 1:10 says that we shouldn’t even give a greeting to those that are false teachers. We cannot in any way confuse people by supporting the denominational world. The denominations have left the basic teachings of Christ, and these religious leaders are destroying people’s souls. They nullify God’s laws in order to keep their traditions (Mk 7:9). Jude warned that false teachers are like hidden rocks that sink ships and shepherds that fail to protect the flock (Jude 1:12). God’s church should have no communion with the doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1).