Question:

I am a regular follower of your site and have learned a lot by seeing how you answer the questions.

If you don't mind me asking, what prompted you to start such a question and answer format? I've never run across anything quite like it.


Answer:

The question and answer section began when I first put La Vista's web site together. I didn't realize when I first started it just how popular it would become. At this moment in time we have 4,500 people visiting the web site each day from all around the world. The most popular sections are the pictures from old children's Bible story books, the material on growing up for teenagers, and the question and answers section.

Each of us have different talents, and I've always enjoyed the challenge of answering questions as clearly as possible. When I started I made a commitment to myself to answer every question that I could no matter how embarrassing or odd it might be. At first there were only a few questions I had to reject, mostly because they were nothing but long strings of profanity. I even answered questions which were clearly sent to irritate me, such as "How do I have sex on my wedding night?" Another reason I did the questions and answers is that I study better when I have a purpose. The questions get me thinking about subjects I wouldn't have thought about and force me to consider ways of persuading people to see the reasonableness of God's teachings. They are making me into a better preacher and benefiting the congregation as well.

One thing that I knew is that if one person had a question, there were likely to be thousands of other people with the same question searching for an answer. I treat questions from teenagers and young adults particularly seriously. There are so many young people without guidance and if they are reaching out for an answer then they deserve the best I can give. I also know that, especially for young people, blunt answers are better received than indirect answers. Vague or indirect answers, even when accurate, are seen as voidance of truth. What surprised me were the times I had to come down hard on someone because of the sins they were justifying. I frequently sent out blunt answers thinking, "They'll never talk to me again." Instead, I, more often than not, got appreciative responses. I've come to realize that often people know they are in the wrong, they just needed someone to help them get it clear in their mind as to why it is wrong.

I still continue the practice of answering almost every question I receive. At the moment I'm running about 20 to 30 questions per week. Some only require pointing to a previously answered question and those I don't often post. Some just want to push their doctrines and really don't contain any question. I don't post those because I'm not interested in giving them a platform for false teaching. There are also some that I'm quite certain are fakes about made up situations. I found to my horror that there are people who get thrills out of describing made up stories about punishing children. I've finally had enough of it and I don't respond to these made up scenarios any more.

I'm really glad when someone writes to say that the answers were helpful. I do appreciate the encouragement. And when someone tells me that they stopped sinning because they understood that God's way is better, well, that is the highlight of my week.