Faith

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Understanding the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Do all people — even unbelievers — have the Holy Spirit? My theory is that He lives in everybody, but they don’t become aware of His presence until they accept Christ as Savior. I remember stealing something once when I was a child — long before I became a believer — and hearing a little voice inside my head telling me that what I had done was wrong. Wasn’t that the voice of the Spirit?

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Questions and Concerns about Biofeedback Therapy

What can you tell me about biofeedback? Does it have any value as a clinical tool or therapeutic technique? What about associated spiritual risks or dangers?

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Questions and Concerns about Contemplative Prayer

Are "contemplative prayer" and other "spiritual disciplines" part of a "New Age" plot to subvert the church? Should I steer clear of these practices? My church recently launched a class in "spiritual formation." I was excited when I learned of this opportunity because I'm hungry to know the Lord in a deeper, more personal way. But when I shared this with a Christian friend at work, she responded with dire warnings about the "eastern" influences concealed within the contemplative prayer movement. Now I'm thoroughly confused. Can you help me?

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Correcting Distorted Images of God

How can I change my negative view of God? The picture of God that comes most readily to my mind is that of a harsh overseer, a rule-giver, a relentless judge, a dispenser of punishment. I know that the Gospel is supposed to be good news, but somehow it doesn't feel like good news to me.

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Making Sense of Christian Denominations

If all Christians believe and accept the same truth, why are there are so many denominations with different concepts of God? If the God Christians worship is Love, why can't they all get together?

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Bible Versions and Translations

Why are there so many different translations of the Bible? I find this confusing. Second Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." If that's true, how did we end up with so many different versions of the Bible? Why do they all say different things? God doesn't change, does He? I've compared the King James Version with other modern translations and come up with a long list of discrepancies. How can this be right? Is it part of a plot to introduce modern relativism into the church?

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Varying Interpretations of the Bible

When different people read and understand the Bible in a thousand different ways, how do we know who's right? Christian ministries like yours are always quoting Scripture and talking about the authority of the Word of God. To me, this raises a huge question: how can I know whose interpretation is correct?

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Faith, Works, and Salvation

Am I saved by faith or good works? As a new Christian, I was relieved to hear that salvation doesn't depend on works, but solely on God's gift of grace. But then someone told me that "faith without works is dead" and that God cares as much about my actions as He does about my beliefs. Now I'm worried. Maybe I'm not "doing" enough to get into heaven. What do you think? Can you help me understand what seems like a contradiction?

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Facts vs. Truth

What's the relationship between "facts" and "truth"? Is there any difference between them? If so, how would you describe it?

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Responding to Evolution

How do I answer the argument that everything can be explained in terms of evolution? By way of example: I told an atheist friend that evolutionary theory doesn't account for altruism or self-sacrifice. If survival is what it's all about, why would a soldier throw himself on a grenade to save his friend? He said that it's not about the survival of the individual but of the species. I didn't know how to answer him. Can you help?

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Understanding The "Generational Curse" of Exodus 34:7

Is there such a thing as a "generational curse?" Exodus 34:7 says that God "visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation." I find this disturbing, and not merely from a theoretical point of view. My family has some skeletons in its closet, and sometimes I think I see the sins of the past playing themselves out all over again in the present. What do you think the verse in Exodus means? Does God hold me responsible for something that someone else did?

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Atheism and Personal Integrity

If I'm an atheist, does that make me a bad person? I believe strongly in the validity of the scientific method. I teach my children to approach the world from a scientific perspective, and I also try to instill in them deep-seated principles of compassion, kindness, generosity, and sensitivity to others. Does that make me a "sinner"?

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Christians and Civil Service

Is it "un-Christian" to serve as a public official? I've always had a strong desire to inject my Christian beliefs and values into the culture by playing an active role in public life. But a Christian friend of mine thinks this is wrong. He says I shouldn't assume that the United States is a "Christian Nation." He also asserts that a disciple has to make up his mind to serve one master-God or country-and that it's impossible to live by the Sermon on the Mount while also serving as an elected official or an officer of the law. The last time we talked about this, he said, "Judges, police officers, and soldiers live lives that are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. They judge, persecute, oppress, kill, tempt, and imprison." Do you think he's right?

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Christianity, Pagan Religions, and Family Life

Can pagans be good family people? I'm a young Pagan/Wiccan woman and I appreciate many of the articles, Q&As, and other features posted on Focus on the Family's website. But I wonder what you, as Christians, think of a person like me. Would you agree that a strong, healthy religious belief system of any kind is an advantage in family life? Do you share my view that a home with any type of sane and spiritually enlightened philosophy is better off than one with no religion at all? Or do you look down on me for not following Christianity?

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Understanding the Meaning of the Word "Evangelical"

What does "evangelical" mean? I've noticed that Focus on the Family identifies itself as an evangelical Christian organization. Some of my friends and neighbors, especially those who pride themselves on being educated, sophisticated, and liberal-minded, use this word in a clearly negative sense - and most journalists don't seem to consider it a compliment either. This is all very confusing to me. I'm a Christian, but I'm not sure whether I want to be labeled an "evangelical" or not. Can you help me by clarifying exactly what this word means to you?

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Focus' Advice Appropriate for Believers and Non-Believers Alike

Will Focus on the Family's family advice help me if I'm not a Christian? I've been listening to some of your radio broadcasts, and I'm intrigued by your guests' unique insights into the nuts and bolts issues of family life. There's just one problem: I don't consider myself a believer and doubt I ever will. Meanwhile, I'm having some serious conflicts with my kids and my spouse, and as a result I'm desperate to take advantage of all the practical assistance I can possibly lay my hands on. What I want to know is this: is your advice relevant only to Christian families? Or can it also apply to unbelievers like me? Do I have to "know the Lord," as you put it, before I can benefit from your marriage and parenting advice?

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Repeatedly Straying Christian Wonders if He's Beyond God's Forgiveness

How many times will God forgive me and take me back again? I'm a Christian, but my walk with the Lord has been an on-and-off thing for a number of years. There have been many occasions when I've walked away from the Lord only to return to Him again after falling on my face and realizing the error of my ways . This is a recurring pattern in my life. At first I didn't think much about it, but lately I've been wondering: is it possible that I've used up my allotted "quota" of forgiveness? Have I worn out God's patience? Is this something I need to be worried about?

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Showing Christ to a Muslim Family Member

Can you suggest any specific Bible passages that might open the eyes of my Muslim spouse to the lordship of Jesus Christ and help our children to grow in their understanding of the Christian faith? My husband has been a Muslim all his life, whereas I was born and raised in a Christian home. To some outsiders this sounds like an unworkable arrangement, but as a matter of fact there's a great deal of spiritual openness and flexibility at our house. We gather the whole family together for prayers and scriptural readings every night. I'm pleased to say that my husband is always happy to have me share something from the Bible. What would you recommend?

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Marriage and Sexuality As Spiritual Symbols

Are marriage and sex appropriate images of our relationship with God? While reading an article on Christian marriage I came across what I consider a pretty shocking statement. The writer began by comparing man's relationship with the Lord to human marriage. Then he went on to say that we must "marry God" and even suggested that, in the context of this union, Christ plants "spiritual seeds" in us so that we can "give birth to new life." I find this highly sexualized language both offensive and confusing. It's one thing to talk about the church as "the Bride of Christ." It's something else to suggest that we can actually interact at this level of intimacy with God! Many Muslims reject Christianity for this very reason. They think that when we speak of Jesus as God's Son, we're implying that the Father had sexual relations with Mary. Shouldn't we do everything we can to avoid such misunderstandings?

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The Dynamic Yet Unchanging Nature of God

How can Christians say that the God of the Bible never changes? I have often heard preachers and Bible teachers make this claim. I suppose this is a comforting thought, but I'm having trouble reconciling it with my own understanding of Scripture. The more I read the Bible (the Old Testament, anyway) the more confused I get. It seems to present a picture of a God who has a hard time making up His mind. First He creates man. Then He says that He regrets creating man. Next He sends a flood to wipe man out. Then He relents and says He'll never send another flood again. How can I rely on a God who is so unsure of His own motives and actions?

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Claims That the Bible Is Too Old to Be Accurate or Useful

What do you say to someone who says the Bible cannot be true because it was written so long ago and has been translated by too many people into too many languages? Is there any way to be sure that we still have a handle on the message these ancient writings were originally meant to convey?

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Heaven and the Eternal Destiny of Preborn Infants

Do unborn children who are aborted or who die in the womb go straight to heaven? Would this be true even if the parents of the baby were not saved?

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Vegans, Vegetarians, and the Bible

Does Scripture have anything to say about vegetarianism and veganism? I'm confused about this. Some of my friends have decided to become vegetarians and they're trying to convince me to join them. A few have even embraced veganism-that is, they've eliminated all animal-based foods from their diet, including eggs and dairy products. At least one of these friends is a strong Christian who claims that God wants us to live this way. But other believers in my life, are suspicious of vegetarianism and think it smacks of "New Age" spirituality. What do you think

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The "Election" of Israel and What It Means

Why would God "choose" the Jewish People? I've tried to examine Christianity with an open mind and give the Bible a fair hearing. Quite frankly though, its whole foundational premise suggesting that the Jews are God's chosen people seems to discredit the whole religion for me. I mean seriously; a book, written by Jews, claiming that Jews are God's chosen? The whole thing seems much too contrived, convenient, and self-serving to me. What is your response to that?

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