Ask Your Preacher
My question is in regards to a vision… or what I think was a vision. July 2007, I began dating a guy who was once a believer, says he loves God, and will get right again someday. By December 2007, God began speaking to me, and I believe gave me a vision. I found out he had been diagnosed with AIDS in 2006 and almost died. However, God spared him, and he now has no trace of even HIV. So, shortly after finding this out, I was talking to his sister on the phone. It seems like it was all in the blink of an eye, but I remember so much color, feeling, etc. I remember more details of that split second than any dream I've ever had. I rarely dream, so it was odd to have gotten that much so fast. It was like I was a third person. I could see the back of what was me (even though I couldn't see my face, I knew it was me), and he was standing at a pulpit with a microphone. He was in front of a large church, and I remember the lights were so bright, the church reminded me of my own (only larger), and I can recall the color of the carpet, what he was wearing, what I was wearing, and that there were other people around us. All he said was, "My wife stuck beside me even though it could have cost her her life." Then he looked at me, and it was done. God also began to tell me “2-3 months”, and I knew that He meant we would be apart for a time. God told me that I needed to work on me and just be an example to him. I've known and heard this since December 2007. We are at that point now, and now I am questioning whether that was a vision from God and whether I really heard “2-3 months” all this time. I just can't help but question it and am having a hard time with my faith now because I don't know if it was a vision or my imagination. Any insight would be much appreciated. Thank you so much!
Sincerely, Minding My Mind
Dear Minding My Mind,
God doesn’t give us visions and prophecies today. What you had, though vivid, was purely from your own mind. The whole purpose of prophecies and visions was to bring God’s teachings to mankind (Heb 1:2). Today, we have all of God’s teachings (Jude 3, 2 Pet 1:3).
There was a time when prophecy and other miraculous abilities were necessary. As the New Testament was being completed, congregations needed prophets to tell them what had not yet been written down, but when the New Testament was completed, there was no longer a need for those miracles. Paul explained this concept to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 13:8-10. Prophecy (and visions, which are a form of prophecy) was a temporary thing until ‘the perfect’, the complete Word of God, came.
Think of it this way, if God has given us everything that we need to know in His Word – what would be the point of another vision? A vision would either alter what God had already said, which God says will never happen (Gal 1:8), or it will only repeat a teaching you can already find in the Bible! I have no doubt that your waking dream was exceptionally vivid and impressive to you, but it wasn’t from God.
5 minutes a day 5 days a week All the New Testament in a year
How do you feel about letting the Pastor know that some people he has in leadership - worship leading and youth group - are drinking alcohol on the side while posting their publicly drunken pictures on the internet? Would it be wrong to bring this to his attention? I might add that this couple is in the "Pastor’s clique." This has been something breaking my soul, knowing that these people have been on stage lifting their hands, praising God on Sunday, and teaching impressionable teens who have access to these pictures -- then they are in bars and at parties on Saturday night. Am I sinning knowing it's happening and saying nothing? Pastors shouldn't even have "circles or cliques", right? Please pray and help. I am broken.
Sincerely, Caught In The Middle
Dear Caught In The Middle,
Yes, you must say something about it. For the sake of addressing the main purpose of your question and not getting distracted, we aren’t going to deal with the issue that your congregation is led by a single pastor, but we recommend you read “Elders” to better understand the problem of a congregation being led by one man. After that, ask your pastor where in the Bible he can find an example of a congregation being led by a single pastor.
Back to the topic, though. Your specific question dealt with whether or not to say something when you know someone else is sinning. If you know there is sin in your congregation, you must address it. Paul condemned the Corinthians because they allowed someone to flagrantly live a life of sin and remain amongst them (1 Cor 5:1-2). God tells us that if our brother sins, we must confront him privately (Matt 18:15). If that doesn’t work, bring one or two others with you and confront him again (Matt 18:16). If that still doesn’t work – bring it to the leadership of the congregation, and if he still won’t repent, then the congregation is to withdraw from him (Matt 18:17). You have a responsibility to make the sin known for the sake of the person’s soul and for the sake of the spiritual health of the others that they influence.
Some sins we commit when we act the wrong way, and sometimes we sin because we failed to act. If you know someone is openly sinning (and especially if you have evidence, like in your case), you must act. God requires it of you, and if the congregation won’t act as God intends… I recommend reading “Finding A Church”.
5 minutes a day 5 days a week All the New Testament in a year
I was watching a special on Michael Jackson this weekend which prompts my question: is plastic surgery wrong? Obviously, Michael Jackson appears to have had way beyond what most of us would consider a normal nip or tuck, but when does the pursuit of vanity become sinful? What about changing your hair color, wearing makeup, or even getting braces to make your smile more pleasing?
Sincerely, Flummoxed Fashionista
Dear Flummoxed Fashionista,
It isn’t inherently wrong for a christian to change their appearance for beauty’s sake, but we do need to be careful. See the post “The 411 On The Bling Bling” for more details on the subject of wearing jewelry. Plastic surgery is a more extreme version of makeup or jewelry. It is precisely its extreme nature that should make christians wary of using it. Makeup and jewelry are intended to enhance someone’s natural appearance, while surgery is intended to permanently alter it.
Vanity is a sin. We are not supposed to glory in appearances (2 Cor 5:12). The most vivid Biblical example of the folly of vanity is Absalom who died because of his love of his beautiful hair (2 Sam 14:25-26, 2 Sam 18:9-14). Furthermore, we are supposed to be content with what God provides us with (Php 4:11), and that includes the body He has given us. Plastic surgery (if done for purely cosmetic reasons and not medical ones) smacks of being discontent with what God has designed. The more superficial our world becomes, the more christians need to remember what is truly important… not the outward flesh, but the inward man (2 Cor 4:16).