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By Steve and Melissa Pulis

Q: There’s a trend in Hollywood of celebrities claiming to be Christians, but a lot of their actions don’t measure up to Bible standards. How can you tell if these people are what they say they are?

A: A true Christian should be growing the fruit of the Spirit in their life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23, NIV). Verses 24 and 25 say, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

We will probably never get to know if any Hollywood celebrity is a real follower of Jesus. Ultimately, God is the judge. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and not other people. However, we can pray for those who want to follow Jesus, especially when they mess up.

Q: I’m 16 but my parents won’t let me get my driver’s license. How can I convince them that I can handle that responsibility?

A: In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells a story about three servants and how they handled the responsibility they were given. The master held them accountable and in verses 21 and 23 he told two of the servants, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

Trust doesn’t just happen; it is earned. Start by showing that you can handle responsibility with smaller things. Being responsible involves making yourself accountable. Through faithfulness and accountability, you earn trust. As trust is built, you will be able to make more decisions independently.

Q: I have a strong relationship with God. I don’t understand why my youth pastor insists that I need to speak in tongues. Why is it so important?

A: Speaking in tongues is the first physical sign of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. But the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the end. It is a step on your spiritual journey, not the destination.

Speaking in tongues is the initial evidence and is to be followed by all the evidences of Christlikeness that mark a consistent Spirit-filled life. It is not just an experience to remember later. Don’t miss the point. The question is not just, “Have I spoken in tongues?” but “How have I lived since I was filled?”

Seek the Baptism because this experience marks your continued growth in God. Don’t stop growing in God.

Q: My dad abandoned our family, but now tries to contact us and expects to have a good relationship. As a Christian, am I obligated to maintain the relationship?

A: As a Christian, you are obligated to forgive, and hopefully the relationship can be restored. Even if the pain is deep, God wants to help you heal.

In Genesis, Jacob had a rough relationship with his father-in-law, Laban. In chapter 31, they made a covenant to not harm each other. They decided to forgive without being around each other.

In Exodus 20:12 God told the Israelites, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Honor your father, show him respect, forgive him, and then see what God can do about restoring the relationship.

Q: What version of the Bible is the most accurate?

A: A good place to start is by understanding the difference between a translation and a paraphrase. A translation aims to reproduce the equivalent in English of the biblical text while keeping the original meaning. A paraphrase further rephrases or restates the English version. A paraphrase is more of a commentary on the Bible passage.

A translation is more accurate linguistically, but a paraphrase may help you understand the meaning of difficult passages. The English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV) and New Living Translation (NLT) are all translations. Find a translation that is easily readable for you.

Q: I feel like my stepmother favors her children over me. What can I do?

A: Throughout the pages of the Bible are instructions to honor father and mother and to submit to those in authority (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5:21; 6:1-5; Titus 2:1-10).

You can’t always control the situations you find yourself in, but you can control your thoughts and actions (2 Corinthians 10:5). Don’t allow yourself to feel resentful when it seems as if your stepmother is favoring your stepsiblings. Instead, live your life above reproach.

Do what you’re asked to do when you are asked, and try to show the love of Jesus to your stepmother and her children. You may not always get it right, but in trying, you may earn your stepmother’s respect.

Q: How can I tell if all the faith healers are for real? From what I’ve seen, it all looks like an act.

A: Determining whether or not all faith healers are for real may be difficult. But the Bible is clear that healing is for real.

Jesus provided for our healing in His death on the cross (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16,17). God’s healing is available to all believers. James 5:14-16 tells us that if anyone is sick and asks the church leadership to pray for them, a prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.

There have been some who have exploited faith healing, but that doesn’t change the nature of God or His Word. God stills heals despite those abuses.

Sources: Holy Spirit Baptism: Frequently Asked Questions About Tongues

AG Position Paper: Divine Healing: an Integral Part of the Gospel

Steve and Melissa Pulis minister with Youth Alive, the Assemblies of God outreach to U.S. high school campuses.

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