Ask Your Preacher
What do I do when life is hard and I want to turn to God, but I don't really know how?
Making Every Effort
Dear Making Every Effort,
Rom 12:1-2 says that we renew our minds when we begin to mold our lives to imitate our Lord. The more we change our behavior to match the Bible, the more our mind begins to match our new lifestyle. There is an old saying: “Fake it to make it”. When we begin to act the way we ought, our minds and characters begin to match our new behavior. Positive thinking begins with positive life choices. Sometimes the greatest act of Christian faith is to endure through the pain of trials until you get to the other side (1 Cor 10:13). Endurance is a Christian virtue (Jas 5:11). Sometimes all you can do is simply put one foot in front of the other, keep God’s commands, and it will be counted as faith (Rom 10:17).
How do we tell if we are ready to be killed for our faith in God and automatically know that we will go to heaven?
Martyr In Training
Dear Martyr In Training,
Though some Christians are placed in a position where they are killed for their faith, God doesn't command all Christians to die for Him – instead, He tells us to be living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). We need to live our lives in a way that is faithful until death... not faithfully seeking death (Rev 2:10). We are even told to pray for a quiet life of godliness if at all possible (1 Tim 2:2). If we must forfeit our lives for Christ, so be it. But we don't go seeking violence.
There are some things that I can't comprehend. I'm having to watch my mom slowly die of cancer. Why would a loving God put my family through this? If God is so great and powerful, why won't He heal her? She is the only parent my siblings and I have ever had. Please help me to make sense of it all.
Child In Distress
Dear Child In Distress,
Life here on this planet is full of heartaches, and we here at AYP cannot imagine how devastated you are right now. This world is full of all sorts of disease, pain, violence, and strife – but God didn’t cause those things, sin did. All bad things are a result of sin. When God made the world, He placed mankind in the Garden of Eden and gave us a joyously blissful existence in that paradise. Who caused the pain? We did. It is sin that has brought all of the death, disease, decay, pain, suffering, troubles, and heartaches into our world. We all, in varying degrees, are reaping the benefits of a world with sin in it. Sickness is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. One of the curses of their sin was that we all must face our own mortality – life is finite. Sickness, disease, and pain are a part of the human existence. Sadly, this is true even for our children. When God gave us freewill, He gave us the right to cause problems for ourselves and others, and if He simply removed all the consequences for our actions, He would be removing our freedoms as well.
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).
Regardless of the reasons, your mother’s illness is devastating to you – and rightfully so. You have every right to be hurt, but don’t let that hurt cause you to turn your back on God who wants to save us all from this sinful world. After all, God gave His Son’s life for us – He knows how painful this is for you and knows exactly how to give you comfort through this dark hour.
I had a dream of the Lord last night. He called me to Him and held me in His arms for a while. I could even smell His hair in my dream. He said to me that the lion will soon lay down with the lamb. Could you explain that?
The days of dreams and visions have passed. In the past, God spoke to various people through dreams, visions, and prophecy, but today He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). Now that we have the complete and perfect Bible – there is no need for God to give people individual dreams or visions. It is through the Word of God that we learn how to live faithfully (Rom 10:17).
We are sure that your dream means something, but it doesn’t mean anything supernatural or prophetic. What you had was not a vision. Prophets have visions, and there are no more prophets since we have the perfect and complete Word of God (1 Cor 13:8-10). The human mind is a complex and wondrous thing (Ps 139:14). It is perfectly normal for our minds to make mental connections as we pray, study, sleep, etc. Those mental images aren’t visions; they are just your own thoughts as your mind meditates upon what you have said, read, or heard.
Recently, I've been doing what I feel is the right thing to do and come clean about an issue. Granted, my honesty has cost me my job, ended my relationship with my girlfriend, and caused me to move back home with my parents. I'm at peace with the situation because I feel like coming clean was the right thing to do, and I have faith, knowing that God will be glorified through this, and I know God will take care of me. I've reached a point where I've concluded that I've turned my entire life over to God for His will and purposes with no concern for my wants. With this being said, how do I know if I’m being led by God in an action or not? I find myself frequently overthinking and have a hard time determining if what I’m doing is God’s will for me or not. I’m willing to continue correspondence if needed, so feel free to ask me a question back for clarity. Thank you, and God bless.
Cleaning Up My Act
Dear Cleaning Up My Act,
It sounds like your heart is in the right place, and we commend you for making so many sacrifices to have a pure conscience. Turning to God and turning away from sin can sometimes cost us a lot – there is a reason Jesus referred to serving Him as “taking up your cross” (Matt 16:24). Good for you for taking the path less traveled.
So how can you know day to day what decisions are best? Paul told Timothy that he was approved by God when he rightly handled the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Many people wholeheartedly believe that they are pleasing to God but will be condemned on the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:22-23). Feelings can be deceptive, but God’s Word is unchanging, unbiased, and able to rightly divide our lives and character (Heb 4:12). If you want to know whether or not you are pleasing God, compare your life to the Scriptures. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).”
Secondly, when you are faced with decisions that aren’t right or wrong (i.e. where to move, what job to take, large financial decisions, etc.), God tells us to pray for wisdom (Jas 1:5). Before we make any major decision, we should pray that the Lord’s will be done before our own (Jas 4:15). This way, you can have confidence that while you are trying to make wise decisions, the Lord will bless you in even the non-biblical issues.