How do we develop a relationship with God? By that meaning, specifics. I don’t want that vague stuff like “just read your bible and pray” sure it’s self-explanatory but it’s actually not that clear.
In order to develop a relationship with God you need to start with the basics which is indeed reading your bible and praying. Developing a relationship with God is like developing a relationship with anyone; you have to first get to know the person, and that is what the Bible does for us, it tells us who God is. It tells us His Character, His personality, His likes and dislikes etc. How else will you know who God is for yourself? sure you can hear about it from others but until you read the words and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you directly, the chances are your relationship with God is not likely to go much further then your knowledge of Him. If you genuinely want to deepen your relationship with God you have to commit to His word and find ways to enjoys reading your bible.
Secondly prayer, which is a 2-way conversation with God; as you get to know God more through reading the Bible, you will gain confidence in how to address Him and how to talk to Him, which is what prayer basically is, talking to God. You can’t develop a relationship with anyone without ever talking to them, and God is no different. Eventually you will hear back from Him too. You will be better able to recognise His voice over yours as you advance in His Word (the bible) so when you hear His words to you directly (in your ear, in your heart, a picture, impression etc) you will know its Him because it is in line with His written word.
So, I’m afraid there are no short cuts or hacks; you have to read your bible and pray in order to develop a relationship with God, it’s not the only way but it is definitely where to start. I hope my response has removed some of the vagueness, but if you need further clarity just ask!
Answered by Sinty
Can I listen to lyrically explicit music? (For context, explicit music is one which has a lot of swearing/profanity, sexual references, dangerous/criminal behaviour, violence, abuse...)
One of my earliest lessons in computer science was the concept of 'Garbage In, Garbage Out'; used to express the idea that incorrect or poor-quality input will produce faulty output.
As a (young) Christian, you are still being formed; primarily by the things you (choose) to listen or expose your heart to. During this formative period, if the majority of your lyrical input is filth what do you realistically expect your (spiritual) lyrical output to be? At this point, you may contort your face and ask what on earth does lyrical input and output have to do with anything? It's pretty simple; one of the core Spiritual Disciplines is Worship. True Worship comes from the heart, a heart that is being sanctified daily by what it chooses to let in. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 NIV
It is pretty unlikely that you can worship God in Spirit and in truth if your heart is constantly being conditioned and distorted by the filth in lyrically explicit music, especially as you will inevitably sing these songs out and over yourself.
Humour me this, how can a heart or mind that is constantly ingesting explicit content pour out true Worship to God?
James 3:10-12 reads 'out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. Similarly, neither can a heart or mind filled with filth produce holiness. Garbage in, garbage Out.
I am not saying that you only listen to Christian songs but that you guard your heart from the corrosive nature of lyrically explicit music. Philippians 4:8 gives good guidance on this: 'whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think (meditate) about such things'.
There is a battle for your mind so choose not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2 NIV)
Answered by Kenneth
What should our stance on abortion be?
The abortion question is not one that we take lightly or want to easily dismiss. To be concise in our answer, we are absolutely in favour of seeing every single life come to its full potential. If you or your friend has recently discovered that they are pregnant and is finding it difficult to envision their future because of this new growing life, we as a team would want to support in prayer as much as possible and do everything in our power to direct you towards the right counselling and help to guide you/them through this season. We believe that whether a child is considered to be a mistake, is ‘un-planned’ or unfortunately undesired, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Given the fallen society we live in, we also understand that not every conception is consensual and can carry its load of trauma and pain, and yet we believe in a God that cares, heals and brings restoration to the broken and vulnerable. We understand from the Bible (Psalm 139:13,16 - Jeremiah 1:5 - Isaiah 1:5 - Galatians 1:15 - Job 33:4) that life starts at conception. The unborn child is the blueprint for a fully-formed human being and deserves its right to live.
If you or a friend has in the past gone through an abortion and is struggling with their decision and action, again, we as a team would fully support you in prayer should you ask, and guide you towards the right counselling for healing and restoration. If you’d like to speak further on this topic, please reach out.
What should our view on feminism be?
So much can be said on this topic! I will remain brief, as so much could be said on the topic of women in Jesus' context.
I won't try to define which wave of feminism we currently find ourselves in, but will stick to the core of feminism; which is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and equal opportunities.
Jesus challenged the conventional patriarchy of the culture he was born into. He lived in a time and place where society was divided, not just between men and women, but between the religious and the pagan, the healthy and the sick, the rich and the poor. There was an abundance of second-class citizens who lived on the margins of society. People that were excluded from community life because of ceremonial laws that were so dear to the leaders of society. Jesus had no qualms in breaking cultural and societal norms. He touched the sick, stood up for women, fed the poor and walked with people, seeing them for what they were. People. Equal. Completely disregarding their gender or social status.
Women were not treated as second-class citizens with Jesus. His own ministry depended upon women's support (Luke 8:1-15). He received women as teachers and disciples (Luke 10:39). He redefined the ways humans related to one another by receiving the outcasts into his community and bridging the cultural divides between men and women. Patriarchy was rampant throughout the Ancient world, not just in the ancient Jewish community. So the answer, fundamentally, is absolutely, yes. Jesus did not favour one person over another, one gender over another, one race over another. He was, and still is, a most perfect example of believing in gender equality and living by it.
Answered by Julia
What should our stance on LGBTQ rights and it’s community be?
Just like abortion, the question of homosexuality and the Church is one we do not take lightly. Partly because of the Church’s history in marginalising and rejecting this particular community of people, partly because answering from a biblically grounded perspective puts us at odds with our non-Christian society.
We are called to love people, so first and foremost, our stance towards the LGBTQ community is to see everyone as human beings, as people created in the image and likeness of God. If we are saturated with the Gospel, no person should ever be our opponent, no matter what their lifestyle might look like. Jesus Himself told us to love our enemies. We should work on breaking down the walls built between the Church and the LGBTQ community, and we can do that by building relationships, as well as actively praying. We are to love people so much that we want God’s best for every single person.
When it comes to sexual ethics, Jesus is not neutral. In fact, Jesus regards our sexual integrity as something so precious that it is not to be violated even in the privacy of someone else’s mind (Matthew 5:28). Later in Matthew 15:19, He gives a short list of sins that all of humanity struggles with. These issues separate us from God, and amongst them, is sexual immorality. The Greek word in use here is porneia (where we also get the word pornography from) which in its context means any kind of sexual activity that takes place outside of marriage. Therefore we understand that sex can and only should take place within the boundaries of marriage.
The issue that arises with this conversation is the idea that sexuality is part of one’s identity and therefore not embracing someone’s sexual preference is rejecting that person entirely. But the Bible shows us that our sexual feelings are not the core of who we are nor of who we are meant to be. We are time and time again reminded to be sexually pure to please God, to honour Him, and to obey Him.
If we should only be allowed to have sex when married, what then of same-sex marriage?
Marriage is a holy institution, created and defined by God as one in which a man and a woman enter into an exclusive relationship for life (Genesis 2:21-24). It is so much more than a legal right (or a very expensive party with all your friends), it is a covenant that God modelled on the covenant love between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32). When Jesus speaks of marriage (Matthew 19), it is such a serious matter that the response from his own disciples is that ‘it is better not to be married’. We cannot confuse or minimise the roles of husbands and wives as it would otherwise obscure the meaning of marriage itself. Marriage is also predicated on our sexual difference as male and female, it is the only form of partnership approved by God for sexual relations. Homoerotic sexual practices are incompatible with His will for us, as it is revealed in Scripture.
With this written, we encourage the Church and Christians at large to be communities of grace in which those who experience same-sex attraction and seek to live faithfully in accordance with biblical teachings are welcomed and affirmed. Such Christians need churches which are safe spaces where they are able to share and explore their stories with fellow believers for support, prayer, and further studying of God’s word, as we help each other grow together into maturity in Christ. The message of Christianity is that none of us is naturally lined up with God’s ways, including in our sexuality. Our only hope for wholeness, peace, and understanding of our identity is through the person of Jesus Christ.
This is such a hot topic that we are open to discuss further should you or a friend have any questions or are struggling with your sexual identity. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We love you and we are here for you. In the meantime, let us all pray:
Dear Father, I come before you asking for your help in the area of my sexuality, my attractions, my sexual habits and desires. You are my creator, and therefore the creator of my sexuality. Lord, help me find peace in your word and your will for my life. Give me a fresh understanding of what it means to be made in your likeness. I give everything I am, my past, present, and future, to you. I ask forgiveness for every act and thought that I’ve had which has pulled me away from you, and I forgive those who have lead me astray and hurt my sexual identity. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit and take possession of my mind, my urges, and my desires. Help me understand your way is always greater and better than my way. Lord I ask that you would guide me towards leaders and friends that can support me in my failings and my struggles. I thank you for loving me, and caring for every ache in my heart, so Father, come and fill this gap so that I can be made whole again. I lay down this burden into your loving hands, and I rejoice in the victory of Jesus’s crucifixion over my sin. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.