How come some churches are okay if their members smoke and occasionally drink alcohol and others make that a restriction?
Each church has the duty to make a decision what will be required to become a member of that local church. Almost every club and organization does the same thing regarding membership such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, Eagles etc. A church is supposed to be a group of people who have first of all have made a personal commitment to accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To be officially a member of that church they may require not only that commitment but they may ask for some other commitments like you mentioned as a outward evidence of a person's convictions. Some things should be expected to be allowed and others things not allowed in order to claim full membership. Let me encourage you to always ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and God's Word for guidance before you join any club or organization and I would apply that even to a church.
We have been encouraged many, many times in Scripture to pray, to call upon the Lord, to pray without ceasing. God wants us to always look to Him and to talk with Him concerning our every situation. There are also demoniac spirits who will try to steal, kill and destroy everything God has planned for you. When you asked this question I felt that the Lord urged me to say, "It could have been a lot worse if you hadn't prayed." Prayer is our direct connection to our heavenly Father. Don't let the enemy steal your connection with God. No matter what may come your way, continue to pray and see what God will do. Your prayers release the hand of God to move on your behalf.
How can I help my friend? He says that he loves God but he gets drunk on a fairly regular basis for over 20 years. He is very sorry and embarrassed afterwards and says he wants help.
Your friend saying he wants help is a very important first step. Recognizing our need for a savior, for someone to help us when we can't help ourselves is part of confession. Your friend is in bondage. He is captive to this addiction. Jesus said in Luke 4, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me...He has sent Me to...proclaim liberty to the captives...to set at liberty those who are oppressed." His addiction has set up a stronghold for many years that only the Holy Spirit can now break to bring freedom. Encourage your friend who says he wants help to truly be willing to seek and receive the help that is available. Teen Challenge is a program that I personally endorse for your friend. They deal with the root of the problem and not just the symptoms. Contact me if you want further information.
What can I say to a friend who says, “I don’t attend church but I am very spiritual just not religious”?
It is good that you and your friend are talking about spiritual things. Being spiritual however can mean a variety of things from having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ to channeling demoniac spirits through various means. I would ask your friend what they mean when they say they are spiritual. Ask them if Jesus Christ has any part in their spiritual experience. Without knowing and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the Bible says no one will see Heaven no matter how spiritual they might be. John 14:6
Jesus is the head of the church so let's see what He has to say. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he actually gave two answers. Love God with all your heart and also to love people. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples before He ascended into Heaven was, go and make disciples. So I see that the main mission of the church is three fold: To Love God, To Love People and To Make Disciples. The main mission, reason for being of the church should always revolve around one of these three commandments given by Jesus. Is the church, the individual believer living out what it means to Love God, Love People and Make Disciples? If we are not perhaps we need to reexamine what are we doing and what should we be doing. Loving God is worship, Loving People is helping to reconciling them to God, Making Disciples is nurturing and maturing the believer to follow after Christ.
I received an invitation in the mail to attend a special study on the book of Revelation, would this be a good opportunity for me to learn more about End Time events?
The organization sending out these mailers and putting on these seminars have numerous teachings that are contrary to mainline Christianity. They believe that any church who meets on Sunday instead of Saturday will receive the “Mark of the Beast”. They present that salvation must be earned by faithful attendance to Saturday worship and complete acceptance of all their message and lifestyle. They believe that the writings of one of their founders are equal to the teachings of the Bible. I would encourage you to not attend this seminar due to the many errors being taught by this group.
My friend believes in the teaching of Buddha, another one is into the native American great spirit, I am personally into nature. All of us are finding our own way to God. We don't push our way on you so why do you push your beliefs on us?
Your friends and you are all seeking your own way to find a connection to God. That is a very good quest to be on. The Bible tells us that God has put eternity in the heart of man. Every person has what I like to call a God shaped hole that needs to be filled. The reason why I encourage everyone to check out the teachings of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ is because this quest to find a connection with God will determine your eternity. There are four directions on a compass but there is only one that points north. You can be sincerely on your journey but still be heading in the wrong direction. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me." There is only one way to God and that is by believing and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. All other paths that people are taking to try to find a connection with God will lead them in the wrong direction. There is a broad way that leads to destruction and a narrow way that leads to God. I just want to help people to find the right path.
This question could really be applied to any area: How involved should Christians be in music, entertainment, local school board, sports and etc. Jesus said that we are to be the light of the world and the salt. Light keeps darkness away and salt according to Jesus provides flavor. Imagine what a difference there would be if Godly men and women were involved in politics, movies, sports who were not ashamed to stand for what is right and pleasing to God. Christians with a desire to represent true Godly values should be involved in politics and in every area of life. When the light is removed from any area only darkness remains.
Feeling trapped is never a good situation. An addiction that is bringing heartache to you and others can be broken. Of all the treatments, programs and therapy that offer help I have found that there is one that has the most overwhelming success rate. It is not a quick easy fix but it will change your life and set you free if you are willing to submit yourself to the only proven method that can change your life. First, you must humble yourself and admit that your life is out of control. That you can't beat this thing. Next, you need to completely submit yourself to God. This addiction is a sin problem and only the power and presence of God in your life can deal with a sin problem. Then you need to get yourself another mature follower of Jesus Christ and have them help you be accountable and help you grow in your walk and relationship with God. "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. therefore submit yourself to God. resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:6-8.
There have been many scholars smarter than I who have tried to pin down exactly when the “last days” would happen. It appears that when all is said and done that there will come a day when life as we know it will change forever on this earth. Jesus will eventually return and every person’s eternal reward of living in the presence of God or eternally separated from God will be decided. Those who have accepted God’s plan of salvation offered by Christ will be spared from judgment. Those who have ignored or rejected Christ as Lord will face the judgment of God. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows”. To my understanding there is nothing keeping that day from happening at any moment, hence “We are living in the last days”. Read Matthew 24 & 25.