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Deborah_

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About Deborah_

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  1. I've just looked on Amazon. The Leviticus commentary (for example) costs £12.99 new, but if you look at their second-hand list you can get a copy for just £5.31 including delivery.
  2. What's "appropriate" for men and women depends on culture. In the USA and Europe it's perfectly normal for women to have short hair and men long. Scotsmen have always worn kilts. The point is that one's appearance shouldn't be deceptive. With regard to the details, our appearance doesn't "matter" to God, but it does give out a message to other people. How I dress tells you what kind of person I am (or if I'm wearing a uniform, it tells you what job I'm doing). And as Christians we do need to think about our impact on other people.
  3. Leviticus is hard going - yet still important. I'd suggest skimming through it (rather than skipping it altogether), and come back to it later with a good commentary (I recommend The Bible Speaks Today series) when you want to do some in-depth study. It's good to read the New Testament alongside the Old, because they are interlinked and each one sheds light on the other. For example, having a basic grasp of Leviticus will help you understand Hebrews, and knowing Hebrews will help you to interpret Leviticus! If this is your first serious reading of the Bible then there will be some bits that are a struggle, simply because you don't know enough. But it will come with repetition.
  4. The name Abram means 'exalted father'. Abraham means 'father of a multitude'. God re-names Abram in Genesis 17 (He also changes the name of Sarai to Sarah), to mark the imminent fulfilment of His promise to give them many descendants. The name change also symbolises God's "ownership" of them (because you can only name what belongs to you). Just as later on He will change Jacob's name to Israel.
  5. "Gospel" means "good news". Now remember that Paul preached and wrote letters before the four 'gospels' were written. When Paul talks about his 'gospel' he means the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. When the accounts of Jesus life were put down in writing they also became known as 'gospels' because they contained the same 'good news' of Jesus' rescue mission.
  6. I'm not gluten-intolerant myself, but in the UK most churches are very accommodating. You just need to let the leadership know that they need to provide gluten-free bread or wafers at communion. (Again, in the UK most churches have gluten-free available at every communion service, because intolerance is so common). It's the same with church lunches - any decent church should be aware of common dietary problems. It's not difficult to ensure that there's at least one gluten-free dessert on offer, just like offering vegetarian options.
  7. Our modern culture is pretty well obsessed with time - to the extent that we feel things must be set down in chronological order in order to be 'accurate'. In ancient times, people just didn't think that way. The writers of the Biblical books didn't feel obliged to put everything in the order in which the events happened (this is why Jesus cleanses the Temple at the beginning of John's Gospel but at the end of the other three gospels). They often felt that other things were more important. In some of the other prophetic books (especially Jeremiah and Ezekiel) where the prophecies are dated, they are often not in date order but all jumbled up. Unfortunately, it's often far from clear to us what their reasoning was! So if you ask the question, "why is the beginning of Isaiah's ministry in chapter 6?" you may find several possible answers and none of them may actually be the 'right' one. Personally, I think the best approach is to just accept it, and not judge ancient literature by modern standards. But it's worth looking at the context of each section (what comes before and after) to see if there might be some link between them that helps with interpretation. For instance, there are three 'Messianic' prophecies in the early chapters of Isaiah (chapters 7,9 & 11) that are probably all connected with the story of King Ahaz in chapter 7.
  8. Different churches have different rules. You should be aware of the rules of your own church, so as not to cause anyone embarrassment. It would be wrong, I think, to 'interrogate' visitors to know where they stand before allowing them to take communion. It's a matter for one's own conscience. But most churches that I have been involved with have had the practice of inviting "all who love Jesus" (whether or not members of that particular church or denomination) to share communion, to make clear that it is for believers only. Communion isn't just a little bit of ritual. Taking it is a personal statement of faith (like baptism). Ideally, one should be baptised before taking communion, but not all churches insist on that.
  9. As already pointed out, I John 3:12 is very helpful inspired commentary. Try an alternative (slightly less literal) translation: "Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." (NIV) Cain's anger will lead to murder, if not dealt with at this stage (Matthew 5:22). The path of sin leads inexorably downwards – unless we resist it (I Peter 2:11). No matter how badly we feel we have been treated, no matter how much other people have provoked us (either in our imaginations or in fact), we always have a choice – to sin or not to sin. Our destiny is in our own hands: we can choose to yield, or to fight (Galatians 5:16). In order to break the power of sin, we must make a deliberate choice to submit to God (Romans 6:12-14). The application is simple: "Do not be like Cain." (I John 3:12)
  10. The gifts of the Spirit are given only to believers - people who have the Holy Spirit within them. However, the gifts can be faked. There are such things as fake miracles, fake tongues and fake (false) prophecies. Also, the devil can work miracles and inspire prophecies. This means that we have to exercise discernment! We are to test all prophecies (I Corinthians 14:29). And if someone claims to have a gift we should look not only at the gift itself but also at the rest of their life. Do they speak and act as if Jesus is their Lord? (I Corinthians 12:3; Matthew 7:22,23)
  11. I've met a lot of individual Christians who never read the Old Testament - because it's "too difficult", or "too gory", or "irrelevant". I've never come across a church that avoided it as a matter of policy - but I'm sure there are many preachers who don't preach on the OT because the NT just seems so much easier and more accessible.
  12. Yes, you can do that if you're having a private conversation. But when they come door-knocking they are always in pairs, so neither will tell you anything outside the official JW 'line', even if they don't believe it all. I don't ask the question; I just assume that they aren't Christians and talk about whatever subject comes up (but try to steer away from non-essential doctrines).
  13. The Jehovahs Witness movement is not Christian. However, there may be a few individuals within it who are. (I have heard that there are JWs who convert but are afraid to actually leave the organisation. I've also met one who alternated between the JWs and an 'ordinary' church). For that reason I would never tell a JW to their face that they are not a Christian - unless I knew them well. Because we know the Bible very well, when JWs knock on our door we always invite them in and offer them coffee. We've had a few good conversations over the years.
  14. Christian forums are not really representative of Christianity. There are plenty of Christians who do believe in evolution, an old earth and dinosaurs. These are matters of personal interpretation of Genesis, not essentials of the faith. You might like to check out the Biologos website as well as the 'creationist' ones.
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