Good Advice

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How Can I Confront My Friends?

Three of my friends at school claim to be Christians, but don't act like it. I don't think they really understand what it means to be a Christian. How do I tell them they're not acting like real Chris-tians without preaching at them?

You need to know you aren't the only Christian with this problem. I like the advice Saint Francis of Assisi used over 800 years ago when he said, "Preach the gospel all the time. If necessary, use words." You can sure offer your friends advice and confront them in a gentle way, but your positive Christian lifestyle will probably impact them more.

Imagine for a moment a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is the "come and see" level of commitment to God. These are people who may come to church to check out the youth group, but don't have a faith of their own. The next level of commitment is a "casual believer." This may be the level your friends are on. The next level of commitment is the "disciple." The disciple has a more mature faith. That's probably where you fit in. There aren't as many "disciples" as "casual believers" and not as many "casual believers" as "come and see" people.

Your job is to help your casual believing friends move up the pyramid to a more committed discipleship life. I think this happens as they get more involved with Bible study, personal devotions, serving others, sharing their faith and being in an accountability group with other Christians. Continue to be patient and slowly encourage these friends to get more involved. God is very patient with us, and we must be patient with our friends. Invite them to your youth group or Christian club so they can see some of those disciple-type Christians in action. Finally, pray for your friends, and look for opportunities to help them move up the pyramid of commitment.

My Mom's Flirting Online

My parents' marriage hasn't been going well for a while. And now my mom has been talking online with a male friend she met a long time ago. When I approached her about it, she told me everything was innocent and I was crazy to think otherwise. But later I found some evidence that proves it isn't innocent. I don't know what to do.

You are in a very difficult situation. Some people would simply ignore the possible signs and others would confront their parent with the information. Both ways of dealing with the problem are complicated and can be messy for the relationship. Let me first say that you don't have to feel like you're the ultimate savior of your parents' marriage. It's not your fault they're having problems, and it's not your responsibility to make all their problems go away. Having said that, I'd suggest you lovingly confront your mother about the new evidence. It's her responsibility to react to what you say. She may do it with wisdom and maturity, or she may not. Your job, if this is the direction you choose to go, is to put the information in front of her and reassure her of your love. Encourage her to go to a pastor or a counselor for help.

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