Ask Your Preacher
How do I console my daughter who just revealed to me that a trusted grandpa figure exposed himself to her multiple times when she was younger? This man knows the Bible and is involved in children’s ministry at a Christian church (not church of Christ).
Dear Horrified Mother,
Oh, what dark and troublesome times we live in that such things would happen to children! We can’t give you the exact words to say, nor can we give you a crash course in counseling via the internet. What we can do is point out a few verses that deal with tragedy and may be useful when talking with your daughter.
- Listen. Many times the greatest tool you have to help someone who is suffering is simply to use your ears. You can’t remove the hurt they are feeling; each heart knows its own sorrows (Pr 14:10), but you can do a great deal of good by being “swift to hear” (Jas 1:19).
- Rom 8:28 is a great comfort to many people because it gives them hope. God is able to turn tragedy into victory when we trust Him and live our lives His way. All things are possible through God (Php 4:13).
- Some of the greatest people of the Bible have dealt with great sorrow, tragedy, and depression – read our post “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy” for examples.
- You may recommend reading the Psalms to her, if she asks for advice. The Psalms can give great comfort to people when human words aren’t enough.
- Stand by her if she chooses to expose this man and his sin. He is endangering others, and if she has the strength, justice should be upheld. Darkness should be exposed by the light (Eph 5:11).
We know that these are a paltry help for such a great pain, but many times words are the least effective at times like this. As we said, many times the greatest tool is a loving and listening ear.
Recently, we received an anonymous question from a woman in Holland (the post was entitled “Pushing Forward, Looking Back”). This post is in hopes that we can reach her. At the time, we said we didn’t have any contacts in that part of the world, and it wasn’t possible for us to find a congregation in the area. Since then, a kind and faithful brother has reached out to us and provided a contact number for a godly preacher in the Netherlands. Ma’am, if you are still reading, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can get you in contact with him. You are in our prayers.
I just want to ask if it is wrong if I often go to church and have my daily Bible study at home? And can you recommend a church to us; we live here at Yokohama, Japan? Thank you.
We aren’t sure if it is a typo or not, but if you are asking if it is okay to go to church often and study your Bible at home… the answer is ‘Yes!’. However, since you are looking for a congregation in your area, we are guessing that were asking if it is okay to study at home and not attend services. The Bible commands christians to not forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). Though in some parts of the world it is difficult to find a faithful group, most countries do have congregations that follow the Bible, and they are often closer than you think. God never intended for christians to function without a local church.
We found what looks like a faithful congregation in Tokyo that teaches and preaches the Bible (we have no personal experience with them though); Tokyo isn’t too far from your location. Here is a link to their website – Ochanomizu church of Christ. It is significantly harder to find English-speaking congregations in non-English speaking countries. There may be a congregation even closer – contact that group, and they will probably have more information than we can provide. If any of our faithful readers have more specific information on a congregation near Yokohama, please send it to us at email@example.com. Also, if the writer of this question will e-mail us with their contact information, we can pass along any additional details we get.
Will the world end on December 23rd, 2012? My little brother was wanting to know. I already know that no one knows when it will end.
Dear Soothing Sibling,
Feel free to do your shopping for the holidays in 2012; the world isn’t likely to be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012. For those of our readers unfamiliar with the 2012 doomsday schtick… we will take a moment to explain this New Age teaching. The idea that the world is going to be destroyed or transformed on December 21st (some say 23rd), 2012 is based off of the Mayan Long Count calendar. The Mayan Long Count calendar is a non-repeating calendar that was used in Mesoamerica during the height of the Mayan civilization, and because it is a non-repeating calendar (unlike the Roman calendar which repeats every 365 days), it eventually runs out of days. The last day on the Mayan Long Count calendar is December 21st, 2012. Therefore, some folks are expecting a cataclysmic change to the world order on that day.
Now that we’ve explained what it is, let’s explain what it isn’t. It isn’t right. We here at AYP are pretty sure that if God was going to hide the date of the end of the world in a conspiracy-theory fashion, He probably wouldn’t hide it in the calendar of a blood-drinking, child-sacrificing, snake-worshipping heathen culture. But, hey, maybe that’s just us… (insert friendly chuckle here)
As you mentioned, God promises that He will return like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2). If there is one day this year that you can be guaranteed Jesus won’t return – it is Dec. 21st, 2012. Your little brother can sleep easy.
Several days ago, we received a question that broke our hearts. The individual asked for anonymity and to not reveal the details of their situation. We wish to honor this person’s request, but we also believe their plight is faced by many of today’s youth. This individual is so disheartened by their physical appearance and the bullying and ridicule they have received because they aren’t “pretty/handsome” that they are considering ending their own life. With today’s culture of air-brushed models, plastic surgery, and Botox… is it any wonder that body image issues are so common and vicious in today’s youth? With this issue in mind, we are posting our response to this suffering soul in the hope that others who are silently struggling may have a Bible answer to comfort their hearts through the awkward years.
The AYP Team
Dear Hurting One,
Let us begin by saying that each heart has its own sorrow, and we will not pretend to know exactly how you feel – only you and the Lord know the depths of your pain (Pr 14:10). Our hearts go out to you as you deal with the greatness of your bitterness and pain. If we may, we would like to offer you a few verses to consider...
The apostle Paul had a physical infirmity that made him grotesque and despised by many (Gal 4:13-14). Paul prayed and prayed for God to remove this illness (he called it his "thorn in the flesh" - 2 Cor 8:7), and God's answer was 'no' (2 Cor 12:8). God told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that Paul would learn to be a better man because of his weakness (2 Cor 12:9). In fact, Paul said that the things that God had for him to do in this life were so great that the thorn in the flesh kept him from becoming arrogant (2 Cor 12:7).
Have you ever considered that your physical appearance is a blessing disguised as a curse – that is what Paul found. Because Paul wasn't “beautiful”, his character had a chance to shine brighter, and his message of salvation had opportunity to reach those who wanted the truth... not just those looking to listen to the next pretty face. Even Jesus is described as being someone of unremarkable appearance (Isa 53:2). Those who heard Jesus loved Him (Jhn 7:46), but His looks never converted a single soul. We say all this to tell you that physical beauty isn't as important as you think – and it isn't important to God. God treasures the inner character and beauty of a godly soul (1 Pet 3:3-4). It is the hidden man that God desires to shine forth.
Nothing we have said removes your suffering, but it may give meaning to it. All of us age, and our bodies decay, but it is our inward man that matters (2 Cor 4:16). Every life is precious, including yours. You are capable of great things if you are willing to have faith that your life is more than your looks. If you end your life because of your physical appearance, the devil will have won and defeated another soul with his deceptive lies. Be different and let your inward man shine forth.