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When Hope Dies

Sunday, July 08, 2012
How does the Bible view suicide?

Sincerely,
Morbid Matters

Dear Morbid Matters,

Suicide is murder, self-murder, and is therefore very clearly a sin (Rev 21:8).  The only difference between suicide and murdering someone else is that you don’t get a chance to repent after suicide.  Suicide is a final decision and leaves no room for correction or for asking forgiveness.  It is a willful act of disobedience against God without opportunity for repentance.  The final judgment belongs to God (Heb 12:23), but we certainly wouldn’t want to face that judgment with our own blood on our hands.

Redundant Sorrow

Monday, July 02, 2012
     I have been going through a lot lately, and for the most part, it’s my fault.  I recently lost my job, and I had to move out of my apartment into a cheaper one (which I still don’t know how I’m going to pay for because I still haven’t found another job).  I’m starting to feel depressed and lonely; the sad part is that I still haven’t even told my family about the job loss.  I really don’t want anyone judging me.  I have two questions I would like to ask.  First question: does God forgive you for making the same mistake over and over again even when you know it’s wrong?  I know that I shouldn’t do certain things, but I do anyway; that’s what gets me into trouble.  Second question: I feel really horrible about the things I have done, and I just don’t know what to do with myself; am I supposed to feel this way?  I just want to start fresh and make things right with God, so I may live a happy and blessed life.

Sincerely,
Want A Do-Over

Dear Want A Do-Over,

There are two pieces to the puzzle of repetitive sins:

  1. How many times can I ask for forgiveness for the same sin?
  2. How do I remove this sin from my life, so I can start living without guilt, fear, and pain?

The answer to the first part is simple. You can ask for forgiveness an innumerable amount of times. Christ told Peter that we should forgive ‘seventy times seven’ (Matt 18:21-22). Paul was forgiven of his sins even after killing christians and actively persecuting the church (1 Tim 1:16). As often as we truly repent, God is ready to forgive (Lk 17:4). It is quite possible to truly repent of something and then find yourself doing that same thing not minutes later. It happens in arguments all the time! You say something mean, apologize, then find yourself upset again, and again use rash words. The repeating of the cycle is not necessarily an indication of false sorrow.

However, the second part of your question deals with stopping this cycle. God will forgive you for stumbling again into the same sin, but only if you are truly attempting to change your mind. Paul reminds us that we are to do everything we can to flee from the slavery to sin (Rom 6:1-2, Rom 6:12-13). Without knowing what sin you are caught up in, I can’t give specific advice, but I recommend getting help if it is as consuming as you say. Many sins can become addictions that are very hard to break. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Are you trying to change all on your own? God says two are stronger than one (Eccl 4:9-10). In the case of sin like pornography, many people try and struggle through it alone without seeking help because of the shame involved in it becoming known. This rarely, if ever, works. Telling someone, even just one trusted friend, and using things like Covenant Eyes accountability software can make all the difference in such circumstances.
  2. Are you putting yourself in compromising situations? People with drug and alcohol addictions are often tempted back into their old habits by drinking buddies or parties where drugs are made available. You may need to cut off certain people and habits from your life in order to escape that sort of sin. Remember, Christ said it would be better to remove even your own hand if it would free you from a sin (Matt 5:30).

Removing sin from our lives is a constant struggle. God is ready to forgive you ‘seventy times seven’ as you fight to defeat sin, but you must look yourself in the mirror and make sure you are taking the steps necessary to change your life.

The Last Season

Sunday, July 01, 2012
I had asked you a few months ago, basically, how many times someone can ask for forgiveness.

Well, now I am asking you a different question.

I got diagnosed this year with cancer.  They also think there might be a tumor in my brain (which they are currently diagnosing).  Sometimes, when I allow myself to feel, I feel like I can't seem to keep things together.  I am at a loss.  I am not scared to die, but I am scared of dying without completing my purpose.  I am so scared of dying without feeling like I helped others or have done something with my life.

On one side, I am grateful to have a timeline and to have time to somehow do the most I can with it.  On the other side, I am still going through the processes of grief (denial, anger, depression, etc.).  Some days it seems like I'm fine, and other days I just want to break down and cry.

I am so grateful for the time to appreciate my loved ones and life and very, very appreciative of the time to further my spiritual belief… while at other times, I feel lost.  I feel completely alone.  I cannot burden those around me with my thoughts and feelings.  The only thing that's kept me alive through all my suffering has been the thought that I had this great purpose, this life-changing purpose.  And to be told that I will die soon, I feel as though I fooled myself.  I never achieved anything, only failed.  I feel like a complete failure.  I know God hasn't deserted me, but yet, I feel like I have failed.  I have failed in everything, and now I am dying.  It's my worst fear, to die without a purpose.  Please help me.  I have no one else.  Thank you.

Sincerely,
Near The End

Dear Near The End,

The apostle Paul once said that God sets the seasons of our lives and the boundaries of our habitation on this planet (Acts 17:26).  Life is finite for all of us, but when we read of struggles like yours, it makes that knowledge fresh again.  Thank you for having the courage to share your heartache and struggles with us.

Nobody is perfect, and it isn’t fair to measure your life by your failures… that isn’t how God does it.  Jesus was impressed by great faith, not perfect faith (Lk 7:9).  Jesus marveled at the humility of the woman that had the courage to reach out for help (Matt 15:25-28)… it wasn’t her perfect life; it was her humble plea for help that caught His attention.

Your purpose in life may not be what you thought it was, but God has a way of using us to do His work in the most unexpected ways (Esther is a good example of this – Esther 4:14).  This sickness may allow you to learn things and touch lives in ways you never imagined… you’ve certainly touched ours.  Be faithful, and the Lord will use you.  A life lived for the Lord, no matter how long, is never wasted.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Ill All Over

Saturday, May 26, 2012
I am sick with allergies (environmental and food), bronchitis, and stomach issues that include GERD and IBS.  I have also found out that I have chronic ear disease with a hole in one eardrum.  I have all sorts of little things going on.  My question is: is it something I have done?  I want to fix it whatever it is, but I first need to know what it is that I have done.  How do I find out if it is my fault?

Sincerely,
Sick Of Being Sick

Dear Sick Of Being Sick,

You might be hurting for living unfaithfully… but that is only one of several reasons why people suffer.  Here are the two other reasons why people suffer:

  1. Sometimes bad things simply happen because they happen.  Job suffered greatly, and his children died, but it wasn’t his (or their) fault.  Job hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had his kids.  It all happened because Satan wanted to do evil (Job 1:6).  As long as we live in this world of sin, there will be troubles.  Sometimes, there isn’t anyone at fault… just time and chance wreaking havoc in a sinful world (Eccl 9:11).
  2. Sometimes people suffer so that God can be glorified.  Jesus’ disciples asked Him why a certain man had been born blind, and Jesus answered, “So that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (Jhn 9:1-3)  This man’s ailment provided an opportunity for God to show His glory.  There are times that we suffer, so God can teach us and teach others through our pain (Eccl 7:2-3).

You are doing the right thing by examining your life and making sure that you are right with God.  If you would like to have Bible classes or need a congregation, we can help you find a faithful one near you (our e-mail is askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org), but unfaithfulness isn’t the only cause of suffering.

Every Now And Zen

Friday, May 25, 2012
     Is it okay for Christians to meditate?  If you pray to relieve stress but also want to just take a few minutes a day to picture a nice scenery or something to bring zen, is that okay?

Sincerely,
Mind Over Matter

Dear Mind Over Matter,

God wants us to dwell upon positive things (Php 4:8).  There is nothing wrong with meditating on the good and beautiful of this life.  Ps 77:12 talks about dwelling upon God’s creation and His handiwork as a positive thing.  Meditation isn’t a replacement for prayer – but it can be pleasant.

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