Ask Your Preacher
I am a Christian, and I have an old friend who is an atheist. My friend has been married for seventeen years and last summer came close to a divorce after his wife discovered that he was having an affair. They have since reconciled but have sought no counseling. I have even suggested they begin this new chapter in their lives by joining a church. This suggestion was laughed off. He and his wife along with my wife and me are going on vacation together in three weeks. We live 900 miles apart from one another.
Now that you have the background, here's the question. Yesterday, he asked me to renew his wife's and his vows on the beach! My knee-jerk response was, "No, I can't do that. You need a preacher!" He responded by saying that he doesn't need a preacher, and he just needs someone to do the vows, and who better than his old best friend? Something is nagging at me. First of all, I don't think they have taken the right steps to ensure a solid marriage going forward, but there seems to be more bothering me. Is there something wrong with a Christian renewing the vows of a couple who are not Christians? Is there something wrong with someone other than a preacher renewing a married couple’s vows? Thank you.
An Old Friend
Dear An Old Friend,
No, there isn't anything wrong with you helping them renew their vows – after all, they aren't officially getting married; they did that seventeen years ago. This is just a couple trying to reconcile and re-embrace a healthy marriage. God says that marriage is to be held in honor by all (Heb 13:4). It isn't a sin for you to help any married couple try and renew a sense of honor in their marriage.
Are we supposed to go out and preach the Word, or are we supposed to wait until we are asked? My own experience says that if someone is being called by God, they will reach out (it's what I did before being saved), but there are those who believe it's their duty to go out and preach. Thank you and God bless you.
Ready And Waiting
Dear Ready And Waiting,
When Jesus walked this Earth, He sought those who were lost (Lk 19:10), and we should do the same. Though it is true that some people are already looking for the truth, and God guarantees that those who seek Him will find Him (Matt 7:7), there are others that blindly live in ignorance until we bring the truth to them. Jesus’ great commission to His apostles was to go and make disciples from every nation (Matt 28:19). Christians must be searching for opportunities to spread God’s Word – look for those open doors (Col 4:3). There are two types of converts: those who went actively searching for the pearl of God’s wisdom and found it (Matt 13:45-46) and those who stumbled across the treasured salvation found in Christ (Matt 13:44). We must be ready for both.
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).
What scripture shows that God laughs or has a sense of humor? Thanks.
Dear Funny Bone,
God definitely has a sense of humor, but just as a child often struggles to see his parents’ funny bone because they are busy raising the child, we often miss God’s sense of humor because we are His children and the works of His hands (1 Jn 3:1). One of the simplest proofs of God’s ability to find humor is that we are made in His image (Gen 1:27), and we are able to laugh. Since man has a sense of humor, God must have one also.
Ps 59:8 talks about God laughing at those who think they can outwit Him, and Ps 2:4 says the same. There are other things that point to God’s sense of humor. When we look at the animals and created world, we see the invisible attributes of God (Rom 1:20). God made the platypus – that animal is downright hilarious-looking!
Lastly, there are other anecdotes in the Bible that show God’s sense of humor: the way He destroys the false god, Dagon, in 1 Sam 5:1-5 or how the false exorcists were put to flight in Acts 19:13-16.
Can you tell me all you know about blasphemy? How do I know if I have done it, how do I make sure I don't, and can it really not be forgiven? What if you did it without knowing or before you realized what it was… or before you got saved? Please help! I was told if you're worrying about it, you probably haven't. Just wondering! Thanks!
Watching My Mouth
Dear Watching My Mouth,
Blasphemy can be forgiven, like all other sins, but it definitely is wrong. The word ‘blasphemy’ means ‘to speak evil of’; any language that speaks poorly of God is blasphemy. When we use God’s name as a cuss word or exclamatory term, we demote Him in our minds from the lofty position He deserves. God tells us to revere Him (Heb 12:28). All our speech needs to be both clean and reverent, so God’s name is spoken well of amongst His people (1 Tim 6:1).