Thursday, September 19, 2013

My response to your questions..

Thank you all so much for your honest and thoughtful theological questions, I hope it has been helpful. You are always welcome to ask more- I love it! I just want to encourage you all to not take my word for it. Please continue to read scripture, pray for understanding, listen to sermons, go to church, talk to friends, and talk to your pastor to come to your own understanding. If you do not have a pastor and are not a Christian, that is so totally fine, keep asking your good questions and go to church, just to see...even go to a pastor- he would loooove with talk with you.

Also, I want to remind us that answers are not the point, they are a means to an end of loving and trusting Jesus more. Theology is good and we should seek it. But we cannot know everything, and this is where we trust in the goodness of God that we know is true because he sacrificed his one and only son for us. When we get lost in our questions, let's go back to what we do know, the good news:

he saved us, NOT because of works done by US in righteousness, but according to HIS OWN MERCY, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through JESUS CHRIST our Savior, so that being justified BY HIS GRACE we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3: 5-7


  1. You have made me think a lot about how blessed I am to know God. Reminders of His love are always like unexpected hugs of reassurance. I do question things but usually I just praise him and love him-oh, and I REALLY lean on him-and tell myself that having faith is a part of not having the answers. Do you think that's too complacent? I don't want to be lazy but I get confused if I ask too many questions.

  2. no, i think thats great :). there will be times in your life where you ask more questions than other and thats ok :) Im glad you're relying on and trusting him :)

  3. I don't know if you can help me but one of my fears has become a reality. My teenagers are turning away from God and their Christian upbringing. I feel like a failure and don't know what to do.

  4. Im sorry, i know thats got to be really hard. I think that that is pretty normal though, I know I did it.

    Teens years are when they are SUPPOSED to be differentiating from their parents and figuring out what they believe for themselves. That is a good and normal process. Unfortunately, experimenting/ trying different things is kind of how we do it...

    If she is in covenant with God (saved), he will be faithful to bring her back to him, no matter her behavior in the meantime. He is in control, and will use it for good. This is where you have to trust him. If she was never a Christian, this is also where you have to trust him, and beg him to save her.

    Maybe some helpful thing you could do are, to be open with her about it. tell her it makes you sad, and ask questions, listen. APOLOGIZE for the ways you have hurt her, & the ways Christians have hurt her. ask her what she dislikes about God and Christianity. be honest and open about your own walk with God, and when YOU didn't like him, and YOU turned away too, and how he loved and pursued you even still. GRACE GRACE GRACE is the only way we change. tell her you will be committed to loving her no matter who she is, or what she believes. don't force too much Christian-ness on her or she will just become resentful. brace yourself, you cannot control her, she is becoming a hard! you can pray, be open, have lots of conversations, be a SAFE person for her.

    If she is in trouble, then get her help. get her into counseling with a Christian woman. Also, find a cool older girl who she likes, who is Christian. maybe a Young Life leader at her high school. ask her if she would pursue your daughter. give her money to take your daughter to lunch or get coffee. often times non-parents are the best ministers to lost children.

    here is what is true about you. you are a sinner who is made in the image of God. This mean that you have showed her Jesus, brought her up faithfully, and loved her in the best ways you could. this also means that you failed her. every parent fails their children, there is no other way. this is why we all need jesus, we are all failures. Tim Keller says the gospel in this way, "we are more wicked than we ever dare believe, and more loved than we ever dare hope." In your failures, you are loved and accepted in Christ.

    you have not thwarted his plan for your daughter. you are not that powerful ;)

    your consolation is that God is a good, faithful, and loving father for you and your daughter. He is is control of even this situation. He desires for you to draw closer to him and rely on him more. trust him even in your failures. He will use all things for good for those that trust in him. he is not surprised by this, the story is not yet over. continue to lean into his goodness and mercy.

  5. whoops don't know why i assumed your teen was girl- maybe not, sorry :)

  6. Hi Laura,
    It's anonymous #1-the one who got so intrigued by Following Jesus to Walmart. I wanted to let you know that these posts with the questions and answers have been so helpful for me. I have moments of clarity now that I didn't even know I needed. It's so gratifying to feel like I am finally starting "to get it." I think I am learning more from others questions than my own. Thanks again so much!

  7. I love the question & answer about teens. I can really identify. It's scary and sad times.......prayers that all of our teens everywhere will come back to their faith.

  8. you're so welcome! what a joy.

  9. I am often confused because people say God knows what we will do long before we have done it. Some imply our fate is predetermined which makes me wonder why we have even been given this life?! Then, I hear that God has given us free will which would contradict predetermined fate so I am not sure what's accurate. Can you help me understand?

  10. totally. so confusing, but you're not gunna like my answer.

    it's both and. and mostly this is one of those mysterious things, but let's still discuss it. God is sovereign over all things (in control) AND he gives us choice. He did not make us robots. who would want to be in relationship with robots?? He could have made a perfect world where everyone chose God and loved Him, but He didn't. He gave us choice. When God created Adam He gave him choice to sin or not, and Adam did not choose God, he sinned. In the same way, we have choice, and we sin and do not choose God as well. If you look back at my original post I talk about our theological story- creation, fall, redemption, consummation. in creation, we can sin (choice), in consummation, we can't sin (no choice left).

    We see in scripture that God does "hand people over" to their sin (romans 1:24). Meaning, that He will give you what you most want, if you want to not choose Him and you want sin, He will eventually remove His loving and protective hand and allow you to have what you want (but He knew you would do that and allowed you to do that..).

    Also, He is in control. Act 4:28 " for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."
    He has known all things from the beginning of time.- Remember he is outside of our space-time continuum and so we cannot wrap our brain around His. - He already knew every move a person was going to make and He is using everything in the world for His purposes and goal of bringing Himself glory through His kingdom. He cannot be thwarted by us. He already knows everything and has allowed everything that happens to happen. It's like He is a filter working all things for His purposes, but also giving choice. It is BOTH that He is in control of all things, AND that we have choice. We have been given this life because He has a great plan and good purpose that we cannot fully understand.

    So, I imagine now you are wondering, so in order to choose His elect people did God just look into the future and see who would make the right choices and choose Him? and is that what salvation is based on??
    INCORRECT. Deuteronomy 7:7 "The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all. But it was because He loved you .." Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith- and this is NOT from yourselves, it is a gift from God, not by works- so that no man can boast."

    God loves us because he loves us. It has nothing to do with with our present or future choices, lest we boast. It is purely a gift.

    so how did God decide who He was going to predestine from the beginning of time?

    I have no idea. It's bound up in the mind of God. :\

    this is such a hard, debated theological question! I hope discussing it is helpful though. we are meant to see the beauty of God's kindness, His majesty, His awesomeness, and His totally free grace to his people. but keep wrestling!

  11. What do you mean by predestined?

  12. So, does God know when we are born what every moment of every hour of our lives will look like?

  13. Predestination is the biblical doctrine that God decided at the beginning of eternity who would be saved.

    Romans 8:30. "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

    this is a very difficult doctrine :/...

  14. God knew from the beginning of eternity how many hairs would be on your head at every millisecond of every day of your life :)

  15. I'm sure you have explained this but I'm not getting it. If we are not predestined is it hopeless? I finally understand that I can't work my way into heaven by actions but if I truly believe and love God and accept him, if I'm not predestined am I going to hell?

  16. Maybe we just are expected to do our part? Accept and love Jesus and believe that God will know your heart and will have from the beginning of eternity. If so, you will be predestined? I'm not sure but I am hoping I am right.

  17. If you believe the gospel, that Jesus is Lord, you WILL go to heaven. This is only evidence that you ARE predestined! It is only by the Holy Spirit that we are even able to believe the gospel, so if you believe the gospel, the Holy Spirit is already at work in you! You are His!
    If you are not predestined, you will NOT believe the gospel or love Jesus- or want to believe it. But, yes, if you are not predestined then you will not be saved...but, you won't want to be saved either...

    One more thing, God gave you (via the Holy Spirit) your heart for Him. We CANNOT muster that up on our own. That too is a free gift from Him. Praise Him for His amazing mercy! We are utterly spiritual dead, unable to even choose God, before He gives us the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:1-6, Romans

    Im so sorry, this is challenging stuff. I hope Im not coming across as insensitive. If you believe the gospel then you ARE predestined! It is the evidence! does that make sense?? I really want to hear back from you :)

  18. You are not insensitive at all. Your explanations make sense. I do feel some fear though. I believe in God. I don't know that I believe in the gospel in its entirety because I don't go to church very often. I know that's bad but I want to be honest . Since I am not a regular (far from it) church goer and I don't read the bible myself I can't say that I believe everything because I don't even know what everything is. Does that make sense? I love God. I believe in God. The gospel trips me up.....idk if I'm predestined. It's sad and quite scary.

  19. Its ok that you are not sure about the gospel and don't go to church. It sounds like you are interested in learning more and even that is God pursuing you. Do not worry about if you are predestined or not, that is not our job to figure out. Read Romans, try going to church and see what you think. If you want to be saved and desire to know the gospel more, then God will honor your pursuit and I encourage you to keep seeking!! If you wanna email or even go to lunch to talk more I would love it :)

  20. Do we have to go to church to be saved?

  21. The answer is NO.

    To be saved, what do we need? JESUS + NOTHING! NOT, Jesus + church. Just JESUS. it is FREE GRACE! (I encourage you to read through some of these questions and posts, if you have time).

    HOWEVER, church is a natural response of a Christian. It is a place where we can praise and worship God for this amazing grace that we do not deserve. It is also a place where we can fellowship with other believers and learn more. It is God's grace to us to give us the Church. He says that it is actually GOOD for us to be a part of a church, and so we trust him and go to church. And so, NO, it is certainly NOT at all required to be saved, it is an opportunity to thank him and a gift to us. It is a blessing from God to get to be a part of a Church.

  22. I try to read the Bible. I have tried many times over many years but I don't understand it. I'm not sure why because I'm above average intelligence but it just doesn't make sense to me. I have no idea what I am supposed to be learning or what the message is. I even tried going to a Bible study a few years ago but, once again, realized everyone else seemed to understand what they were reading or at least enough to discuss it except for me:(

  23. Listen. The bible is hard for all of us. You are not alone!! We all have to learn/study and also ask the Holy Spirit to help us in order to understand. I hate that it is so hard- why does it have to be so hard?! It is really hard for me too- I wish I could enjoy it more. It really helps me to commit to a good bible study, because I just won't really read if I don't have that accountability.
    The bible was written in hebrew and greek, thousands of years ago in completely different cultures and countries. Of course it will take studying to understand! We have to study the context, know the story, and understand the culture and language. It takes ALOT of time and energy to understand and that is why we need help! We have to read books, go to bible studies and lecture, discuss with other people, and listen to sermons.

    ..Also, it is not ALL hard. It is easily understandable in parts. Do this; pray that the Holy Spirit would allow you to understand scripture as you read, carve out 20 minutes and sit down and slowly read Romans 3:21-27 (just that), read the footnotes below too to help. If you have some time left, then google it and just read what other people are saying about to further understand. best wishes to you.

  24. Thanks for the advice. I am going to try it-it feels more manageable. You make a difference.

  25. Can atheists go to heaven? I read recently that the pope announced they could?! Which seems odd because they don't claim to know and love Jesus or God. Which brings me to another question-does it matter what Christian religion we belong to? Baptist? Protestant? Catholic? Etc? Or does everyone who believes have an equal chance?

  26. Scripture (which is our authority, not the Pope..:\), says that there is one way to heaven and that is by believing in Jesus. So, no, someone who doesn't believe there is a God cannot go to heaven.

    If you believe the gospel, that Jesus died and was resurrected, and that He is Lord, you will be saved, no matter what denomination you are a part of. The denominations all differ in certain ways on theology, and how they interpret the bible, but should have certain foundational christian doctrines that are the same- which makes us all "Christian". obviously, there will be people in all types of churches who really do believe the gospel and are saved, and people who go to church but actually do not believe the gospel and are therefore, not saved.
    hope that helps, and if you have time, i encourage to read through these posts and comments, as I think it might clear some things up for you.

  27. I read the posts and they are good. They are very helpful. I have a problem though....I'm going through a very, very rough time and for some reason I don't seem to be able to pray. This has happened to me in the past when I went through a couple of horribly hard patches- I just can't seem to pray or to reach out to God. It seems like when I need Him the most I shut down. I don't want to be like this but I don't know how not to be.

  28. wow- I admire you for asking this question! I am so sorry that you are going through such a hard time, sounds like you have been through alot! so sorry...

    sounds like you have a classic case of "I think I have to get my shit together before coming to Jesus- itis" a few things:

    1- go to God in your mess. we are all a mess. if we waited to pray until we had it together, we would never pray. because of Jesus, we are free to pray to God in our mess anytime, anyplace, anywhere. He is your heavenly father! He cares for you! he knows your heart and thoughts anyway. he can handle your mess, in fact he already has in Jesus. you are free and accepted in your mess in Christ!

    2- go to God in your doubt. did you know that it is normal for christians to doubt the gospel?we all doubt at times. because it is a fallen world, we will not believe perfectly until Jesus returns. it is ok to doubt! in fact, doubt away! I am not afraid of your doubt and neither is God. The gospel proves true. ask questions, read books, read scripture, talk to people, talk to pastors, go to church, etc. doubt responsibly :). pray your doubt. are you doubting that God is good? loves you? really cares? is really powerful? tell God about it and ask him to help you, he will draw near to you!

    3- got to God in your anger. Christians can sometimes be weird about anger. Anger is a good and God given emotion (although, like anything, it can be misused). Anger is a good and right response at certain times, and we see Jesus become angry in scripture. Because it is a fallen world there are GOOD things to get angry about: abuse, divorce, death, disease, injustice, etc. If you are feeling anger about whatever is going on in your world right now, I want you to know that it is ok to pray about it, tell God about how you're feeling! we see in the book of JOB that it IS WRONG to make charges againist God's character in prayer, such as, accusing him of being unjust. BUT it is good to tell God about how we FEEL about life or even about Him! Tell him if you are angry with him, hurt by him, feel that he is unfair, or whatever else you are feeling. talk with him the way you would talk with anyone you were in close relationship with. It is better to get in the ring and duke it out then to avoid him. Pray even in your anger. It doesn't scare him.

    continued below...


  29. 4- go to God in your sadness. Christians can be weird about sadness too. We see in scripture that Jesus is sad at times. Sadness is a GOOD and RIGHT emotion in this fallen world. We are actually called to grieve with hope (Romans 8:28). So we are expected to be grieving in this world, and also hold onto the hope of Jesus' return. Pray to God through your tears. He will weep with you! He loves and cares for you. He is able to hold all of your tears.

    5) lastly, IT'S OK that you can't pray. The Holy Spirit prays for those that are in Christ, so someone is always for you. Take comfort! Also, because of Jesus, you are fully atoned for, if you are in Him. You are free to fail. God has empathy for whatever is causing your absense. In the same way your father is still there when you do not call for a while, so is your heavenly father. He is still there, and He loves you just the same. Because of Jesus, God is faithful to you when you are not faithful to him. Be free from shame, guilt, and self-contempt. Take the burden off your shoulders because it was carried by Christ. It was finished on the cross. In those moments when you do not want to pray, pray this, "thank you God that because of Jesus, the Holy Spirit prays for me when I can't". and rest in that. rest.

    the antidote to your "itis" is this. stop the shame and guilt for not praying- you are free to fail, and accepted in Christ. go to God in your mess, do not clean up first. make yourself utter these four words, if nothing else, "thank you for Jesus". rest in his unwavering love. will you try this??

    *for anyone who is reading this who is not in Christ, all of this and more is yours for the taking if you trust in Jesus.

  30. The last comment and response really 'spoke' to me. I have the same problem as the commentor and your response really eased my anxiety. When times are tough I just lose my ability to pray. Even when things aren't tough I struggle to pray for my own needs although praying for others comes easily and I consider it an honor to do so. Would it be out of line if I asked you to pray for me? I'm trying to build a closer relationship to God but lately when I pray all I do is cry. I feel so alone. Thank you for your blog.

  31. Of course I will pray for you. Sounds like you're really sad..but don't let that stop you from talking to God about it. keep praying, make yourself. and also make yourself pray for your own needs, even just a sentence. God will draw near to you.
    its good to put others' needs before your own, but if you are not practicing self-care as well, then you will totally deplete yourself and then you will not be able to care for anyone. You need to practice self care, and also express your heart and needs to God (and people), who is the giver of life. consider why you don't pray for yourself, and also what is causing all the tears. I have my masters in counseling, and am a huge proponent of it personally and professionally, I might encourage you to process this stuff with a counselor if that sounds appealing to you.

  32. Thank you for your prayers. I have considered going to a counselor and think I will call around to see what my options are, costs, etc.. I keep thinking life will get easier and maybe it will soon. Thank you for caring.

  33. Even though the post was not intended for me specifically I just want to say your advice to just pray Thank you for Jesus has felt like a lifeline to me. I also am stuck and having trouble praying but those four words are helping me to breathe again, to feel less heavy.

  34. * I want to add on a bit to my "go to God in your doubt" section of the last question. I felt like I may have been to flippant, with the "doubt away". I meant, ask your questions, it is ok to talk about it, read about it, research it! ALSO we see Jesus say to Thomas in John 20:27, "stop your doubting and believe!". So while there is a place to doubt and ask, also there is a place to STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE. make the jump, although you do not know all! this is faith. and that is what I meant by "doubt responsibly"...but just felt that I should spell that out more clearly. all the same, pray your doubt to God (its ok), and ask God for wisdom and clarity. *

  35. I am so glad you were helped! you are experiencing your freedom to fail in christ- that is life and peace! rest in Him!

  36. There are so many settings, classrooms for example, that speaking about God is not considered "politically correct." Sometimes it feels like God is being edged out of our everyday life. I'm not sure what is right. Do I go ahead and speak of God and the importance of Him in our lives or do I not say anything and silently pray. A friend says even Jesus knew when to be quiet.

  37. hey! the answer is it requires WISDOM. it is not black and white. wisdom is something that the Holy Spirit loves to give, and you can pray for it!

    your friend is smart. there are times when it is good listen, and learn, and be silent. we assess each situation on its own. there are also times when we must speak even though it is scary. BUT we should never only be silent! The great commission in Matthew 28:19 calls us to GO and tell people the good news of Jesus. EVERY Christians is called to be on mission for Christ- BECAUSE of our great love for others. we MUST tell the story of Jesus, the story of His redemption, OUR STORY. GO and TELL, but use WISDOM.

  38. I go to church on a regular basis. However, the last several years many things have happened in my life: losses, deaths, etc. and church no longer brings me comfort or joy. I either feel nothing or horribly sad. I'm ashamed to even admit it to anyone. I keep going with the hope that one day I will feel restored peace and comfort again within the same walls that used to fill me up with so much. I don't think I need to be swept off my feet with glorious emotions every Sunday but I do feel a bit of a hypocrite as I go and worship and no one around me would have any idea what I am feeling-or the lack of what I used to feel. I don't know if I'm right to keep going even though it's a bit hypocritical but I also fear not going and drifting away from God. Plus I miss what I once had!

  39. thanks so much for asking. Im very sorry that it has been a hard season in and out of church. there is alot in here but here are my best thoughts without having a full conversation.:
    1) ask yourself why you feel nothing and horribly sad at church. is it church or is it all of life? to be honest, it sounds like depression, which there is NO shame in! It is a normal experience for people to endure in this broken world. It is OK if you are.

    if it is ONLY in church that you experience this, then consider what is causing it; has the church or church leadership hurt you? are you upset with God? do you feel you deserve more in church and in life? do you feel like you are not "safe" to be honest with people at church? is it shame? there is nothing wrong with being sad. sounds like you have had a tough several years, and it is totally understandable- why are you ashamed to talk to people about it? that is what the church is for! to love and care for each other! do not be ashamed! you are allowed to struggle AND be a Christian, in fact, there is no other way.

    2) You already said this yourself, but (this is kinda hard), the purpose of the church is not really about making us feel good or comforted. It is SO great if it has in the past, and you should derive hope, comfort and rest from Jesus as a Christian, but im not sure that you should expect that from church every sunday. the true purpose of the church is actually mission- to love the church body, and extend the kingdom of God- it is about SERVING others. Although what a blessing it is when we get served through church as well! maybe try focusing less on what the church is "giving" you, and more about what you can "give" to it?? it may help a bit to think in those categories. I hope that im not pushing in too hard.. i dont want to do that.

    3) you are not a hypocrite, at least not from what you have described. you do not have to be gleeful at church every week, nor do you have to be gleeful to be a Christian, nor do you have to be gleeful to really worship. you are not obligated to tell every church member you sit next to why you are not filled with joy, but you are free to be honest with people if you want. it sounds like it may be good for you to talk with some safe people at church about how you are doing- this may make church more bearable and less anxious for you.

    4) keep going to church. you are commanded by God in scripture to go to church, because it is for your good and flourishing- trust Him in that! it is good for you to keep going to church and stay engaged in the body of believers, have honest relationships with them- i think that will help!

    sum up. maybe think about counseling? (and there is nothing wrong with medication either- sometimes it can really put people over the hump- no shame) i love counseling, it is amazing. if not counseling, then just honestly talk to a friend about this. also, pray about this stuff! do not fluff up your prayers, God knows your heart already- you're free to be messy in prayer because of Jesus (i did a post on prayer above that may help). read scripture and draw your comfort and peace from there- from the words and work of Jesus. it is freeing to think less about ourselves, so think about how you can serve the church, sign up to help with something. and just keep going to church :). i really hope that helps!! best wishes to you and thank you for asking!

  40. I believe in God. I believe in heaven and that we will all be united together again someday in Gods kingdom. However, how are we supposed to cope with the death of loved ones when we are left behind? It seems impossible.

  41. It is impossible. so hard! it is not the way that it was supposed to be. death is an intruder. when God created the world, death was not part of it, when sin entered in the Garden of Eden, death was a result. God was ANGRY! He hates death and grieves with us! it is not the way it was supposed to be. But God has big plans to do away with death, and rescue his people- He loves us too much to let death be the end of the story.

    Christians find comfort and hope in Jesus. In God's great mercy, He sent Jesus to pay for our sin by taking on death for us, so we could live eternally with God.

    1) we believe will see each other again. we believe that in the same way the Holy Spirit physically raised Jesus from the dead, he will raise those who are in Christ as well. When Jesus returns to Earth, all Christians will literally be raised from their graves and cemeteries will turn into wild parties! this gives us hope that (for those in Christ), we will live in eternal bliss together! this gives us hope when we encounter death.
    2) we believe that God is in control (sovereign) and that He is good. So even when we don't understand, we trust in His goodness. in the midst of not understanding, we are free to grieve and be angry and sad and talk to God about it, but we also hold on to God's goodness at the same time, trusting him. this gives us peace when we encounter death.
    3) we believe that God knows what it is to lose a son, as He sent Jesus to die on the cross. God promises to be near to His children and walk with them through life and death. He does not leave us alone- he lavishes care and grace on those who are His. This gives us comfort when we encounter death.

    We have to remember that God is writing a beautiful story of redemption. we are in the middle of the story do not/ cannot understand it now, BUT in scripture, God has been kind enough to tell us the end of the story. You know how we long for happily ever afters, and fairy tales? we long for it because it is the TRUE story for those in Christ! God sent our prince to come and rescue us, and take us to eternal glory with Him and they all lived happily ever after! this is our hope and comfort in death.

    Im not sure if you are a Christian today, but this and more is yours for the taking because of Jesus. amazing FREE grace, how can it be?! best wishes to you!

  42. Thank you for so much information....I've read these questions and your answers several times. It brings me comfort because even though I don't feel I can be saved, I do have hope that my children can be. That feels glorious.
    How are your two little girls?

  43. WHAT?! why can't you be saved? it is free grace for anyone, because of the work of Christ. ZERO REQUIREMENTS!

    my girls are great! were having so much fun! thanks so much! please get back to me!

  44. I can't be saved because I have done some things that don't warrant it. I have read all these posts and I know you say even sinners can be saved but I think I'm the exception. Plus, while I really do believe the gospel and that Jesus died for our salvation I have moments where I think things like "what if it's not true," "how can all this make sense?" So, I have questions and moments of doubt-I don't want to but they creep in. With the moments of doubt and sinning by ignoring the words of the gospel don't make me a candidate for salvation. I have hope in and for my children though. Thank you.
    I'm so happy to hear your girls are doing well. God is good!

  45. sister. if we were together, i would cup your face in my hands and look you in the eye. Jesus died for sin once for all who trust in him. Jesus is MIGHTY to save, there is no sin too great for him. Jesus is the only way for me and you- trust HIM! If you know and grieve your sin, you are in a better place than many people because you KNOW your NEED for JESUS. Take refuge in him. Romans 8:1- "Therefore, there is NO condemnation for those in Christ!". If you trust Christ, He has paid for your sin, and it is finished. You are free. amazing grace, how can it be?! ..for sinners like you and me.

    King David was described as a man after God's owned heart. He loved the Lord. Did you know that he committed adultery and murder? David was saved not because of anything he did or didn't do, but because Jesus took care of David's sin on the cross, and David trusted in Jesus.

    Additionally, the bible says that if we even have hatred for another person, we have murdered them in our hearts, Matthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." We have all done these things, most not externally, but certainly internally, and so we all need Jesus.

    It is OK to doubt, do be scared of them. ask your questions, talk to pastors, talks with friends, read books, read the bible, go to church. keep seeking and praying and God will meet you and reveal himself to you. We will never perfectly believe because we will be sinners until Jesus returns, but again, that is why we trust JESUS, not the strength of our faith. we do not have to understand everything to trust Jesus.

    You are ABSOLUTELY a "candidate" for salvation :). you know you need Jesus, and you believe the gospel- so just trust him- he wants you to! Lay down your sin at the cross- He is the most powerful person in all eternity- I think He can take care of your sin too (hope that is not to insensitive). Can you do that? can you hand it over and lean into his grace? Please pray for Him to help you do this. All you have to do to be saved is to trust him.

    NOW, go out and celebrate this amazing grace that set you free!!! this is the best news you will hear.....EVER.

  46. whoops, i should have talked more specifically about repentance too.
    1 john 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
    repent of your sin as you are aware of it- it is for our good to do this because sin separates us from God and hurts us and others. So, do ask for forgiveness from your sin, turn from it, and lay it down for Jesus and go free. As Christians, this is part of a daily rhythm, not something we do once. Repent of the sin that you are aware of and trust in the blood of Jesus for the sin you are not even aware of to repent from. we will not repent perfectly, but what do we go back to?? trust Jesus, not ourselves.

  47. also, meant to say, "do NOT be scared for your doubt"

  48. Isn't doubt an insult to God? I want to trust and believe with NO doubt but I also have moments. I love God. I trust Jesus. I believe His word although I don't know if I always fully understand it and it sounds like I'm not the only one, which is a comfort. I always felt it was just me. Yet, I have moments of fear wondering if my beliefs may all be wrong. I hate it-I want to be unwavering and without moments of doubt.

  49. We live in a broken world and will until Jesus returns to fix it. This means that until Jesus returns, NOTHING WILL BE PERFECT FOR NON-CHRISTIANS AND CHRISTIAN ALIKE. We will continue to battle sin and doubt until he returns. There is no other way. We may have seasons that are better than others in terms of sin and unbelief, but we will NEVER be unwavering all the time. That is why we TRUST IN JESUS, NOT THE STRENGTH OF OUR FAITH. Our imperfect belief is another reason we need Jesus, and an opportunity to rely on Him in the midst of not totally understanding.

    NO, doubt is not an insult to God. He knows we are finite limited beings, in a broken world, who cannot understand all things. Do not sweep your doubt under the rug. Attend to it! Pray about it! Whatever aspects of the gospel you are doubting, go and ask your questions about it, talk about it, read the bible, investigate! Pray that God would reveal more to you! Do not ignore it! That won't work. There may be a point in time where God may be calling you to just "stop your unbelief, and believe!", as Jesus commanded doubting Thomas after the resurrection. Or He may wanting you to keep seeking Him in your questions and keep wrestling until he provides you with resolution. Or He may never provide you with understanding, and is calling you to Trust Him in the midst of that. Lean into Jesus even in your doubt. You are in a great place, because you love the Lord and trust Jesus- just attend to your doubt and pray for more belief! Don't be scared to accept your doubt and wrestle with it. best wishes!

  50. I know someone who was brutally beaten by her husband. An act that I believe should NEVER happen. She left with her child and is trying to rebuild her life in many ways. What I don't understand is the people, and there are more than a few, who keep saying God works in mysterious ways when referring to her situation. Are they implying God had a hand in this in order to teach us a lesson or show us something we would otherwise not have known?

  51. That is terrible! Im sorry to hear that! It should NEVER happen. Her husband is in sin, God is NOT the author of sin. The husband is opposing God. God gives us choice in this world to choose Him or not, and so people choose to sin at times (all the time)- this is not of God, it was the husband's bad choice and God allowed him to make it. God hates that it happened to her and weeps with her- He promises that justice will prevail. For those that are in Christ, God promises to be near to those who suffer, and provide them with his grace. He also promises to redeem her story for the good. God takes ugly things and makes them beautiful- which is what he will do with this women's story (if she is in Christ). We do not know why God allows suffering, but he is NOT the author of this. He will work in mysterious ways to REDEEM her for HER GOOD and HIS GLORY out of this terrible situation. does that help at all?

  52. I don't claim to know the Bible well. I do know we are asked not to judge and to love everyone. However, how are we supposed to deal with issues such as gay marriage? Does the Bible teach that marriage should be between and man and a woman? If so, how can we treat homosexual couples equally? I know we are told to hate the sin love the sinner but that doesn't do much to support those that want to be married. Also, if homosexuality is somehow biologically based and people don't really have a choice if they want to be with who they feel they are meant to be with, how can we love and support them while honoring the Word? I don't feel I'm making myself clear but am hoping you know what I'm trying to ask. Thank you.

  53. o man! i was hoping no one would ask this. it can be such a sensitive and personal question. in ways it is very clear cut in scripture, but it is so complicated at the same time. it's a question I do not feel completely comfortable answering, but will give a more basic answer to a not basic question, that I too have questions about (needed to include that disclaimer).

    1- we are all sinners in need of Jesus. PERIOD. I need Jesus just as much as a homosexual person needs Jesus. We all struggle with sin, and some more with sexual sin.

    2- it is a sin, to have homosexual sex (not a sin to wrestle with same sex attraction necessarily). It is part of the brokenness/fallenness of the world, it is not the sexuality that God intended (this is really hard for me to say because I know to some ears it is so offensive), it's not me saying it, it is the bible, so take it up with God people, not me :). look here:
    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    3- Jesus came for sinners. Jesus loves sinners (..not the sin). Jesus loves homosexual/ all sinful people SO much that he gave up HIS life so that THEY could have life, and life to the full in eternity with him. If anyone questions how Jesus feels toward homosexual people (not that that is how they should be defined, they are so much more than just their sexuality), or any sinner- they should look to the cross. Jesus loves US, sinners, SO much that he gave up everything, and endured OUR just punishment to rescue us.
    Mark 2:17
    On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

    4- how do we treat homosexual people? with sacrificial love and respect and dignity as Jesus did. we eat meals with them, be friends with them, care for them, listen to them, certainly don't define them by their sexuality, but as whole people. we see ourselves as messy, broken, sinful, confused, struggling, suffering, beautiful, gifted, and loving people, and see them in the same way. We support them the way we support any friend, which may sometimes look like tough love. How would you love your friend well that was in sin? (if they are a christian) you give her/him truth in love with grace. you sensitively, prayerfully, humbly, and empathetically talk to them about what the bible says it looks like to follow Jesus. and then you continue to love them and pray for them regardless of their response. if they are not christians, then they can do whatever they want... and you just love them where they are. following/loving jesus requires sacrifice because you have give up your sinful desires for HIS glory and honor, for people that are homosexual that sacrifice might be remaining single...which is so hard! hope this helps a little and please forgive me if this response was in any way insensitive or offensive.

  54. Thank you for answering my question. I think you did a very nice job especially since it's such a sensitive subject. It leads me to a couple more question. If I don't talk to a friend who is homosexual and a Christian about what the bible says about same sex relationships, is that a sin? I have no problem with loving any of my friends but I'm uncomfortable talking about Gods word and pointing out their sins. Also, is it not just as important to talk to non-Christian homosexuals about the bible and Gods teachings? I don't think I would be comfortable in that situation either but I'm just curious.

  55. I think that is a wisdom issue. you have to have built a solid relationship first, where the person would trust, listen, and care about what you had to say. it would certainly NOT be wise/or loving to go around confronting every person on the street in their sin! yikes!!

    Scripture says that loving people well means gently confronting them in their sin for their own good, this is what we are called to do! Galatians 6:1:
    "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted."

    I am not sure if you would be in sin to NOT talk with them about it (that one might be between you and God)...if this is about you, I would pray about it. do you feel convicted about NOT talking to your friend? if so, that my be the holy spirit nudging you to VERY humbly, empathetically, and sensitively have a conversation. Of course you are uncomfortable! I would be too, I am too!! this is not a fun part of following Jesus, but we have to keep in mind (and trust God when he asks this of us) that it is for THEIR GOOD and FLOURISHING to repent of sin, right? It is for their good to not sin, it is loving them well. Pray for courage and boldness and wisdom in this.

    It IS important to talk to non-christians about the gospel- but it is not WISE to start the conversation with confronting them on their sin (because they don't even care about or believe in sin anyway)...start by wooing them with the love of Christ for them, how he loves and delights in his children and gave up everything for them to lavish them with free grace! if they desire to follow Christ and enjoy a glorious eternity with him then they will will begin to understand sin and how it harms both ourselves and our relationship with God, and by the power for the holy spirit will begin to feel convicted about their sin.

    sum up: Unless they are a close friend who really trusts you and know you love them, be quite cautious and prayful about confronting people on sin. for anyone else, just treat them with the same delight, enjoyment, respect, and dignity that jesus treats us with.

    does that help at all? wisdom issues are hard because they are not cut and dry.

  56. Yes it's very helpful. Thank you.

  57. Scripture this time of year is always so moving thinking abut Mary being with child and the angel speaking to Joseph in a dream. I believe all of doubt. This is my problem. I think about Jesus and the ridicule he endured as people questioned and doubted him and while it's easy to think how wrong they were I can't help but wonder how would they have known to feel anything but skeptical?!? If someone goes around now saying they are the son of God or claiming to be the chosen one we label them as fanatics or cult leaders. If someone were to claim they were a pregnant virgin or that they were following the advice given to them from an angel in a dream, what would our reaction be? We would consider them unstable or think they were lying. How could the people have known that Jesus spoke the truth and how would we know now if he were to return as man? What are we supposed to take from the gospel about this crucial time, the ultimate gift that we will ever be given, Gods only son, other than the fact that he sent his only son to die for us? To die for us so that we can be saved and live in paradise. Is there more or am I reading too far between the lines?

  58. totally. what a great question. I think it is awesome that you are thinking about this very real matter. here are a few thoughts:

    1) some people DID think Jesus was crazy. often times when jesus performs miracles in scripture, it reports that some were "amazed and astonished" and others were "bewildered" (aka. questioning/unsure/skeptical). in Matthew 11:19, some call Jesus a drunk! So certainly many were skeptical that he was who he claimed to be.

    2) Also, many believed him. The Holy Spirit is responsible for helping people to believe the gospel. They cannot believe without the Holy Spirit, and so he was at work with Jesus to help convince people that the gospel was true.

    3) Keep in mind the Jews all knew the old testament and so they knew that it was prophesied a messiah was coming. Jesus proved the old testament prophesies true, he fulfilled them, so this only caused people to believe in Him more.

    4) Jesus performed miracles that other magicians and such could not perform. The magicians were amazed at him, and believed him, Acts 8: 9-13. Jesus healed people who had been afflicted their entire lives, and there were many to attest to this. The 4 gospels in the bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are different witness accounts to the work and life of Jesus, which makes it credible (not just 1 person reporting).

    5) He wasn't crazy, just wasn't. He was perfect in every way. As someone who is trained and worked in mental health, I can tell you that people who suffer from mental illness/ Schizophrenia never present with just one symptom. You cannot diagnose from just one symptom. Jesus only diagnosable symptom would have been, grandiose delusion- claiming to be the Son of God. But he did not have depression, anxiety, disorganized speech, incoherence, disfunction in relationships, flat affect….etc. He was a leader and a great teacher. He had/ still has a growing following. Everything he said proved true.

    6) His body was gone. Jesus body was never found. This is EVERYTHING. This is our ULTIMATE PROOF that he was who he said he was. If they find his body, we can all pack our bags and go home because he was crazy. BUT, he was RESURRECTED and ASCENDED TO HEAVEN because he WAS THE SON OF GOD! PRAISE GOD!
    Matthew 27: 51 And behold, the [f]veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the [g]saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was [h]the Son of God!”

    Present day, if someone were to say that they were God, you SHOULD be skeptical, especially if they are NOT claiming the gospel as given in scripture. You do not need to worry because, you WILL know when Jesus returns. Revelation 1:7 "Behold, he (Jesus) is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him."

    not sure if i answered your question…:\ Merry Christmas

  59. I have recently become intrigued with some well known mediums and have been pleasantly surprised. I always thought the Bible frowned on such activities as contacting souls that have crossed over. However these mediums are strong in faith and have close relationships with God. Have I been wrong all along in thinking these practices among these gifted individuals was wrong according to Gods Word?

  60. Scripture is pretty clear on this one. It is prohibited. These people may think/desire to be close to God, but they are in fact opposing Him and their sin separates them from God. Here is an old and new testament reference.

    Leviticus 19: 31 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.

    Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  61. I'm sorry. I'm not very familiar with scripture. Thank you for responding.

  62. I'm hoping the last question can help me ask a question I've been struggling to put into words. I've read all the questions and answers that have been posted and they have been helpful. I understand we don't get to heaven through actions (at least I think I do) but in your answer to the last question you gave examples from scripture saying if we do certain things we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Am I reading that correctly because if so, wouldn't that imply that our actions do determine our fate?

  63. totally. great question, Im so glad you asked.

    ok, track with me. It is not our behavior that saves us, it is Jesus. The very worst serial killer rapist can be saved if He puts in faith in Jesus and trusts Him, and the most moral person in the world will not be saved if she does not put her faith in Jesus. When someone decides to trust jesus, they WILL change through the holy spirit. Marks of the Christian are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (galatians 5:22) which are a result of the workings of the Holy Spirit once someone is saved. If the serial killer does not change, and continues to work evil WITHOUT REPENTANCE (mark of a Christian), then one might argue that he is doesn't actually follow or desire to follow Jesus. Christians who trust in Jesus WILL continue to sin (that is why we need Jesus to save us), but (by the work of the Holy Spirit) should repent over their behavior and work to change and lean more and more into the gospel of grace. Sin patterns should not rule their life and heart, although it will happen...every day.

    If unrepentant sin dominates one's heart then it does not seem like that person has the holy spirit within them, and therefore, has not actually trusted Jesus. So, when scripture says that you will not inherit the kingdom of God if you do sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like means that if these things are unrepentant dominating patterns in one's life, then this is an indicator that one may not have the holy spirit, and therefore will not inherit Gods kingdom...

    check out this similar verse.
    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    So, we Christian were all of these things, and Jesus saved us in the midst of them!! After we are saved the Holy Spirit works to begin to change us and free us from sin the binds us. We begin to believe that we are actually loved and accepted and worthy and taken care of and it begins to free us from our sin. We trust God that it is for our good to not sin, and we desire to change! So, Christians should be marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, but this "good" behavior is NOT what saves us, it is what we are made into AFTER we are saved by the work of the holy spirit. If one is marked by drunkeness, orgies, and thievery, this reveals that someone does not have the spirit. But God certainly invites these people to believe the gospel and become saved and changed by it. OUR ACTIONS INDICATE IF WE HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKING, BUT OUR ACTIONS ARE NOT THE THING THAT SAVES.

    does this make any sense? please get back to me about this...

  64. Yes. And no. I'm sure it's just me not getting it 100% and not your explanation.
    So, we are all sinners so the only way we can get to heaven is through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Is that right? So, we sin but as long as we have faith in Jesus and repent we may see the Kingdom of God. Correct? What do you mean exactly by repent? Going before God with sorrow in our hearts and ask for forgiveness or is there more? So, if we continue to sin but intend to do good is that okay? What about intentional sin? Knowing in our hearts that what we are doing is wrong but doing it anyway? What about someone who intends to do good and wants to make the right choices but fails and sins again and again? I feel like you have answered these questions of sorts in previous posts but it still doesn't seem clear to me. It seems if God truly wants us to enter into his heaven then scripture wouldn't read so harshly like the example in the previous post. It didn't read that this was referring to repeated and unrepented sin. Or did I miss that? It didn't say if we have Faith and believe scripture we,are saved...... It says if we do sinful things we don't go to heaven. Is it possible that we just are hoping that we can make it to heaven if our hearts are true and committed? I don't know why this gets so twisted in my mind and one thought or question leads to another when it seems so clear to others!!

  65. no no, its probably my explanation!

    1-So, we are all sinners so the only way we can get to heaven is through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Is that right? RIGHT. JESUS.






    6- It seems if God truly wants us to enter into his heaven then scripture wouldn't read so harshly like the example in the previous post. I AGREE WITH YOU THAT IT IS HARSH. THERE ARE THINGS IN THE BIBLE THAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND AND WISH WERE DIFFERENT, BUT HAVE TO TRUST GOD AS TO WHY HE DID IT.

    Ephesians 2:1
    1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    This might be the hardest question i have hard. I think you need to talk about this with a real person. please please go talk to a (reformed) pastor!! he would love it!! it might be totally out of your comfort zone, but the Lord is pursing you. this is SOOOOO important!! will you please!? I feel like I can't answer this over writing...


    also. it is not so clear to others. this is tough. you are doing the hard work of trying to understand this and i am so glad! you are awesome. don't give up. keep being honest about it where it doesn't make sense.