Ask Your Preacher
We have no men in our small congregation qualified to be elders. Yet, one of the men appears to have taken on that role to the point of reprimanding other men and women for choosing to not attend every Bible class offered. It's causing problems because some are feeling pressured into coming to the classes rather than being there because they want to be (I am one of them). I don't like attending any class because I feel like I have to. But to avoid causing this man (who has a lot of influence on other members) to think I'm getting weak, I'm now going to all of the classes and church-related events with a really bad attitude. I've had to stop being in charge of the bulletin each week – which I loved doing and grew so much from the experience – for lack of time. What should I do?
Got A Beef
Dear Got A Beef,
If this man is not an elder, he only has as much authority as the congregation of believers allows him to have. In other words, if you listen to him, he has power, but if you don’t, he doesn’t. As you said, your purpose in attending all the classes is out of fear of what this man and others think. 1 Cor 4:3-4 says that we need to learn to not care so much what others think of us – it is the Lord who judges, not man.
It was Jesus’ enemies who feared what others thought of them (Lk 20:19), but our Lord spoke without fear of others’ judgment (Matt 22:16). Php 2:12 tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling – that is the fear of God, not man. You need to decide what is the right thing to do, and then let people’s opinions fall where they may.
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?
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.
What about mixing incense with the prayers of God's people? I try not to get caught up into things which I don't understand until I get further understanding. One Sunday, our pastor brought into the sanctuary a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, and he walked around the sanctuary with incense like the Catholics do; we are not Catholic. Then he said we were to write down prayers and place them in this replica of the Ark of the Covenant. It still sits there today; now he says that he is going to burn those written prayers since its been eighty-one days, and they will ascend unto God. And then he said he’s going to do the same practice again. Can you tell me if this ritual is practiced today and what he is doing? And should I participate in this? I didn't before.
This is definitely not a New Testament practice… nor is it an Old Testament practice for that matter! The Bible teaches that our prayers are the incense God wants to receive (Ps 141:2, Rev 8:4). We never see the New Testament church burning incense as a form of worship, and the only people who were allowed to burn incense in the Old Testament were descendants of the high priest, Aaron (Num 4:16, 1 Sam. 2:28). This preacher is adding to God’s Word and is absolutely in the wrong (Rev 22:18-19).
I have belonged to a church for the past two years that did not have a woman as a preacher. I left a church nine years ago because they ordained several women to be preachers. One month ago, my husband finally joined this church I am speaking of, and I was elated. Approximately one week after he joined, the pastor of the church ordained a woman to be a preacher in the church. I stopped going to that church the first time I saw her in the pulpit and wrote the church a letter to explain why I was stopping my membership. I told him that I did not believe that a woman was supposed to be a preacher based on Scripture, and I no longer trusted him to correctly interpret the Bible. He came to my house, and he, my husband, and I had a long discussion. His feelings were hurt because I said that I no longer trusted him. We were not harsh with each other, and I apologized to him because it was not my intention to hurt his feelings, but I felt like I felt. He even stated that I needed to be at the church with my husband even though I may have reservations regarding this matter. My husband was raised in the Church of the Living God, so he is very used to women preachers. He also does not read the Bible, so he does not know what the Bible says. I am not putting him down, but this is the truth. It does not matter who I talk to; everyone seems to want to make every woman that was ever mentioned in the Bible a preacher. I do not believe that to be so. Please help me with this once and for all. Thank you.
You are right to stand against women being in the pulpit. 1 Cor 14:34-35 makes it clear that women are not supposed to be in leadership positions during the church assembly. Women have a zillion different roles within the church, but leading the public assembly isn’t one of them. Men have the responsibility of preaching, teaching, and leading the worship services (1 Tim 2:12). In today’s politically correct atmosphere, this can be hard for some to swallow, but as Paul said, “We have no other custom” on this topic (1 Cor 11:16). There is simply no biblical precedence for women preachers.
I felt for a long time that God has called me to be a preacher (I have no clue how, why, or where). I have just recently began re-walking with Christ after I fell off the path. I feel I’m getting closer with God as I rid my sinful life, particularly one sin that’s been a huge addiction in my life. As this sin fades, I feel the call more and more. I started a Bible study group about two months ago. Honestly, I put off the call because I knew that particular sin was still very present. Every day I feel a little farther from this sinful life; I think I might be ready to accept the call, but how do I know if I’m ready?
Eager To Speak
Dear Eager To Speak,
If you want to know whether or not you are qualified to preach, read through 1st and 2nd Timothy. These are letters Paul wrote to the young preacher, Timothy, and see if you are doing what a preacher should do. Preaching begins with studying to know what the Bible says and then actively doing it. If you are in a faithful congregation, you can ask them about how to get practice preaching and experience in the pulpit – that is what we do with our young men in our congregation. If you need a faithful congregation (after all, lots of them aren’t following the Bible pattern), we would be happy to help you find one. Simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.