Faith

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God's Unconditional Love

Why are Christians always saying that God's love is "unconditional"? I've become increasingly alarmed and distressed over the liberal use of this term. If God's love is unconditional, why did Uzzah get zapped for touching the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6)? What about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)? If God's love is unconditional, there is nothing lost souls need to do in order to be saved, no changes they need to make. There isn't even any reason to talk about hell and judgment. After all, everybody will go to heaven simply because God loves all of us "unconditionally." Right?

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Helping Seniors Get Excited About Their Faith

How can I help the senior citizens I'm working with to get really enthused about their Christian commitment? They're all dear, sweet people, and many of them are lifelong saints who have been walking with the Lord for decades. But that's exactly where the problem lies. There's nothing I can tell them that they haven't heard before. Whatever I say, their attitude always seems to be, "Yes, we know all that, and we believe it too." I guess that's fine from a certain perspective, but I wish I could find a way to light a fire under them when it comes to faith. Can you help me?

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How Churches Can Support Immobile and Confined Senior Citizens

Can you offer any suggestions for organizing an effective church outreach to shut-ins and residents of nursing homes?

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Spiritual Care and Support for the Elderly

How can we minister to my elderly aunt's spiritual needs? She's been a strong and dedicated Christian all her life. Now she's living in a nursing facility and is frail, mentally weak, and increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative. Do you have any practical suggestions?

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The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree

Do you think we should get a Christmas tree? Christmas has always been a warm and wonderful time of year for our family. We love all of the traditions. Our kids get very excited when, on the first Sunday of Advent, we pull out the decorations and put up the tree. This year, however, I'm having doubts. A very serious Christian friend told me that the Christmas tree originated as a symbol of pagan idolatry. That really threw me for a loop. I certainly don't want to raise my children to celebrate pagan traditions.

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What Bible translations does Focus recommend?

I heard that Focus on the Family doesn't recommend gender-neutral Bible translations. What translations does Focus recommend?

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"Friendship With the World" – What It Is and What It Isn't

Does the Bible verse that warns against "friendship with the world" relate to being friends with non-Christians? I've heard it said many times that Christians need to be intentional about developing friendships with non-believers and resist the temptation to spend all their time with like-minded people in the "Christian ghetto." But James 4:4 says, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." How is it possible to have friendships with non-Christian people and still be faithful to the teaching of this verse?

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Marriage in the Afterlife

Will I be reunited with my spouse in heaven? He passed away this year, and I've been struggling to adjust to life without him. A friend recently tried to encourage me by saying that I could expect to see my husband again in heaven. But then another friend just as quickly burst my bubble by pointing out that, according to Jesus, the relationships we have on Earth won't exist in heaven. Since then I've been extremely disheartened and depressed. What's your perspective on the issue of marriage in the life to come?

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What the Bible Has to Say About the Rapture

Should Christians believe in the rapture or not? I've been reading and hearing a lot about this in Christian fiction and on evangelical talk shows. Is there a scriptural basis for this popular teaching?

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Grace, Law, and Speaking the Truth in Love

How can I uphold the truth of God's Word without coming across as "judgmental"? I'm pretty vocal about my faith, and as a result people are constantly challenging me on this point. Many Christians in today's culture seem to think that you can do anything you want and still be saved through the Lord's mercy and grace. They have the attitude that Christ's sacrifice trumps the law so that God's moral standards no longer apply. This seems to be especially true where questions of sexual morality are concerned. I don't want to appear "self-righteous," but I'm also convinced that this mentality needs to be confronted. Can you help me?

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Church, State, and the Idea of a "Christian Nation"

What is a "Christian nation?" I'm increasingly confused on this point. I do think believers should be deeply involved in the political process. As a matter of fact, I'm sick of hearing about "separation of church and state," and I'd love to see America become more thoroughly "Christian" in every way. At the same time, I'm not exactly sure what that means. A non-Christian friend challenged me on this point. "Do you really want to make the Old Testament legal code part of our national law?" he said. "Should we institute the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery, or unbelief?" I honestly didn't know how to answer. Can you help?

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Take me to your information about family finances, budgeting and getting out of debt.

No Value

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Christians and the Sabbath

How important is it for Christians to observe the Sabbath? I know that this is one of the Ten Commandments, but is it still valid for believers who are now living under grace rather than the law? And while I'm at it, how did the Sabbath get switched from Saturday to Sunday? Where in the Bible did God authorize such a change?

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Christian Growth and the Process of Maturity

Why is it taking me so long to grow as a Christian? I've been a believer for a while, and I have to confess that my lack of spiritual progress has really got me down. When I was born again, I thought life was going to be beautiful from that moment forward, but several years later I'm still not the person I want to be. I don't feel God's presence the way I did at first. I know in my heart that fear and selfishness are holding me back from loving other people as well as I should. What's wrong with me? Am I truly saved or not?

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Perspectives on the Compatibility of Christianity and Psychology

What should Christians think of the sciences of psychology and psychiatry? I'm not sure that it's fair to assume that all of our problems have a physiological or psychological basis. Aren't some issues purely spiritual in nature?

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Men and Unemployment: A Biblical View

Is an unemployed husband and father really "worse than an unbeliever," as Paul seems to infer in I Timothy 5:8? I'm having a hard time understanding this. I was laid off my job eight months ago, and since that time my family has been getting by on my wife's income. Even when I was working I could never have supplied all of our needs on my own. Meanwhile, Christian broadcasters and preachers keep telling me that God wants men to provide for their own families. This is a real sore spot with me. Do you think the Lord rejects me because of my inability to meet up to His expectations?

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Christian Struggles With Biblical Accounts of Genocide and "Holy War"

How do we explain God's command to slaughter the Canaanites in the Old Testament? I'm a Christian, but I have serious issues with the doctrine of scriptural infallibility, especially where the Old Testament is concerned. I'm particularly disturbed by the accounts of divinely authorized genocide and "Holy War" recorded in Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. When the Israelites captured Jericho, the Bible says that "they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword" (Joshua 6:20-21). How could a gracious, loving God sanction this kind of slaughter? And how does all this fit in with the New Testament's message of love, compassion, and forgiveness for enemies?

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God's Sovereignty and Human Free Will

Did God choose me or did I choose Him? Am I saved because I decided to accept Jesus Christ, or did He select me to become a believer before time began? I'm running into conflicting Christian teachings that are making it hard for me to reconcile God's sovereignty with the idea of human responsibility and free will.

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Racism in "Christian" America

How can a nation that was built on slavery and that's still full of racial discrimination today possibly have "biblical roots"? I've been hurt by racism in so-called "Christian" America, and I just don't understand why so many conservative evangelicals say this country is based on "Christian values." As an African-American who has faced racial hatred, I find this perspective unbelievable. If that's Christianity, then I want nothing to do with it!

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Christianity and Its Claim As the Only Path to God

Why should I accept Christianity as the "one true religion?" I'm put off by the intolerance of most Christians. I might become a believer myself if you people weren't so narrow-minded. Can't you see that there are many different pathways to spirituality – like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Wicca – and that no path is better than another? How can you say that someone is a horrible person simply because they don't adhere to your creed? Why do you try to impose your beliefs on others through violence? Didn't Jesus teach you to love your neighbor as yourself?

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The Fall of Man and "Total Depravity"

Does God view me as "inherently evil?" I recently heard a pastor use this phrase in a sermon on the doctrine of "total depravity." It's been bothering me ever since. In the first place, I think it's unbiblical. Scripture says that God made mankind in His own image, and that everything He made was inherently good. I know that the fall has "stained" this goodness, but I don't believe it has removed it entirely. Also, if this pastor is right, how am I supposed to have any kind of self-esteem? I've been feeling worthless ever since hearing his sermon.

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What the Bible Says About Family

Is there really any scriptural basis for "focusing on the family"? "Family first" has always been my motto. I spend every weekend with my wife and kids, and I'm committed to putting their needs ahead of my own. But at times I find it hard to reconcile these personal values with the Gospel message. Jesus actually tells me to hate my family. His words seem to say that the church trumps the family system. I'm confused.

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Definition of a Christian

What does it really mean to be a Christian? It seems to me that this term is used too loosely nowadays. Can you give me a brief, easily understandable definition?

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Finding God's Will

How do I seek God's guidance when faced with major decisions? In other words, how can I get a handle on His will for my life? I've been told that it's important to do this, and for the most part I believe it's true. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to go about it. I really want to honor Him in everything I do, but He hasn't told me exactly what that means or how it's going to look in practical terms. At least I haven't yet heard Him speaking to me in an audible voice. Can you help me?

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