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Christian Struggle, Perseverance and Deliverance

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Question #1:

Dear Professor,

I thought I would let you know that maybe my deliverance has come. I started the new work and to have what might be some stable income is something that I have been in a growing need of. As you can imagine, God has lifted me out of the pit in a manner I didn't expect. I can very clearly see now that God's timing in all this was good and it is good that I had to wait for it. Still, since it's been a while I've been waiting, now that it's happening it is just hard to believe. I'm so thankful, our God is a God of deliverances. Thank you for your prayers. The Egyptians were behind and the sea didn't want to move and now it moved. I know that nothing is certain in this world, but rain came on a parched land and it's truly wonderful.

I hope you make good progress with the recovery and that you also are delivered.

In our Lord,

Response #1:

Hello my Friend!

Wonderful news!

This is a real answer to prayer, and a personal memorial for us both to the goodness, the grace and the faithfulness of our Lord. We never doubted it – but it is wonderful to see it "in the flesh" after all this time.

As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.
Proverbs 25:25 NKJV

I am very happy for you, and I know that you will use this new opportunity for good in every way in terms of your personal progress and preparation for ministry. I couldn't be more thrilled!

Thanks for your concern (and prayers) as well.

God is certainly good, is He not?

Your fellow Christian soldier on the battle line.

In Jesus our dear Lord, in whom we have absolute faith,

Bob L.

Question #2:

How can we get Satan to leave us alone?

Response #2:

As it says in James:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 NKJV

We will always be under attack here in the devil's world, as those who represent Jesus Christ (see the link: "Strangers in the Devil's World"). But we will always win the struggle, as long as we submit to God and resist the evil one. This is done by giving ourselves over to the truth, to learn it, love it, and live it. That is the only effective way to pursue sanctification and righteousness, and to live a life well-pleasing to our God and Savior.

Here are some other links:

Faith, Hope and Love: Virtue in Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare IV: Demons, Demonic Influences and Satanic Methodology

Spiritual Warfare III: Peter's 'Angel', Saul's Death, and Strange Events

Spiritual Warfare II

Spiritual Warfare.

Yours in the One who died to save us, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

You'll be glad to know this email is about religion. These past few days I've had a strong desire to come back to the Lord. I want to be back on my Christian walk. I want to pick up my cross and follow like I used to. I've known in my head that it's the right thing to do. For the first time in a while though, it's what I want. It's not that the Bible says so, or someone told me to or that I feel guilty. I just want to come back. It's my own decision. It's kind of a funny story how this all came about. I'll give you the cliff notes version. I was watching a TV show where one of the minor characters is this woman who is a bible-thumper. Not in the good way. She is a religious hypocrite. All the bad things that people think about Christians, she's it. Her son ended up in a coma an she sings this song to him: "A Closer Walk With Thee." Hearing that song touched something in me. I think it fed my spirit. At that moment, I wanted to be back in God's good graces. Don't you think it is so funny that I would receive a message like that from a show like that? I know it wasn't intentional. When I heard that song though, my spirit just rose up like Lazarus.

This happened yesterday. It was still on my mind when I woke up today. I was thinking about the state of my spiritual life, and how I used to be. Then, another song came to mind. I heard one of the lines from "It Is Well With My Soul" in my head.

Everything just started coming together. I've been so stressed and worried lately. I can't explain how badly I have felt. I hadn't felt that way in a while. I realized that when I was still walking uprightly, I didn't have these issues. Honestly, when people talk about how much they love Jesus, I can't relate. I don't think I love Jesus, and I don't know why. It's just not there for me. I've gotten a lot of things wrong as a Christian. In fact, I think I got just about everything wrong. If there's one thing I understood though, it was the peace that comes with being a believer. I believed strongly in God and His might. I slept easy at night. Even when I had problems, I didn't let them worry me. I knew that at the end of the day, I am His and that's all that matters. God is bigger than all of my problems. If my life were to fall down around me, that would be fine because I already know how my story ends. I wasn't afraid of anything, not even death. Even now, in this flesh, I possess eternal life. That used to be my thought process. I believed that more than anything else. Over these past few days, I have come to realize that I have walked farther off than I imagined. It is only when I thought of the song "It Is Well With My Soul" that I realized what had happened. I finally realized the source of my bad days. I thought I was just having a bad streak or something. Now I know, it was because my peace had all but left me. Do you remember I used to be afraid at night? Not because I was afraid of the dark, but that the devil would come get me because of all my sin. That went away when I came under God's protection though. For the past two nights though, I have had trouble sleeping. I felt that I was outside of God's care, and that I could be punished for my sin.

I just want to come back to God. I know how to. It's just that I don't think I can. I have the desire back, but the same obstacles still stand in my way . I'm still divided between wanting to be a devout Christian, and wanting to follow my own path. I contain multitudes. My two sides couldn't be more different. One is a Christian, the other is a radical.

Would you say a prayer for me? I also want to say thank you. I know I probably seem ungrateful sometimes. And that's because I am ungrateful sometimes. I do appreciate you reading my emails, giving me advice (even if I don't like it) and praying for me.

Thanks,

Response #3:

Good to hear from you as always. First, I have been and will continue to keep praying for you. Second, the incident you relate tells me a lot. It tells me that you are one of those believers who is going to believe no matter what; even if you take a "prodigal son" journey to a far country, you will always come back. You are not going to turn your back on the Lord finally and completely no matter what. Whenever push comes to shove, even if you have drifted far, you will always be unwilling to give Him up. That being the case, your life belongs to Him. So all of these other options you may consider or anything which may tempt you is not really an alternative choice for you (it's just a false spur leading to a dead-end, a detour that wastes time). Try as you may, you will never be able to break free of the love of Jesus Christ – because in your heart of heart you love Him more than anything else.

That does not mean, however, that a good Christian walk will be automatic; still less does it mean that you will as a matter of course just naturally grow up spiritually, pass the tests that come with spiritual maturity once achieved, and come into a ministry which blesses fellow believers. All of that takes effort and consistency – and doing things God's way. What it does mean, however, is that, since you will never belong to the world, and will for that reason never fully enjoy the world, well, you might as well get cracking with moving forward since that is really the only way open to you – the only way since in your heart of hearts you won't allow any other way in the end when all is said and done.

Young Christians often take their time in getting moving on the road for Jesus Christ (I know I did); part of the process for many of us seems to be making absolutely sure that there is nothing worthwhile in this world other than the truth and our relationship with Jesus Christ. The sooner we do get to that place, and the sooner we do start to develop some momentum, the better (but it often does take a minute).

Thirdly, I always give the same advice because the Bible never changes. If we do want to get moving for Jesus Christ in the right way (as opposed to some misguided and temporary emotional high), we will have to do what everyone else has always had to do: find a good solid place to learn the truth and begin learning – and believing (only truth believed is of any use); put that truth into practice in our daily walk and rely on it to bring us through the ever more difficult challenges which our faith will then face as we grow and especially once we have become spiritually mature; finally, enter joyously into the ministry which our Lord has prepared for us from eternity past, producing a good crop for Him for which we will be eternally rewarded.

Ichthys is not the only place to "get fed" to begin and pursue this process, but it is one place. Find the right place for you. Ideally, this would be a local church where the Bible and its truths is the focus of everything; practically speaking, such places are rare. But God always provides to those who ask, and opens to those who knock.

I am confident that you will always pick the right path in the end. Picking it earlier rather than later, and sticking with it more consistently always makes for more joy and less divine discipline – but we have to be ready to receive this.

Keeping you in my prayers before the Lord Jesus day by day,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have a question regarding the Lord chastising His children. I hit a car yesterday and the damage was minimal (a scratch on his truck door). I was in road rage mode because I was in a hurry when I hit the other vehicle. In all honesty, I felt like this would be a reason to get angry at God, but at the same time I always thought that God would protect me from accidents. Can God use our own mistakes as a way to chastise us? I know that God chastises those He loves. I appreciate your wisdom and what the Bible has to say regarding this.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #4:

Hope you are OK.

We have to remember that, to use a rough analogy, God vis-a-vis us is like us vis-a-vis a two year old child. Children of that age have no idea of all that is going on or about why we treat them as we do, looking out for them in ways they haven't a clue about and doing things for their own good that they are unable to see or appreciate. And they get angry too anyway. Faith rightly employed recognizes that God is working everything out for our good. When something happens to us, it may be testing, it may be discipline, it may be just the time and circumstances of life (cf. Eccl.9:11) – or some combination. What is clear, however, is that God has folded all events and circumstances into His perfect plan. For that reason, if we approach unexpected events which upset us in the right way, the way of faith, we will understand that even all such things, no matter how disturbing, are only the Lord looking out for us in ways we cannot even fathom. If we are stung in our consciences about something we may have done, then the thing to do is to confess (if sinful) and/or amend our behavior (if imprudent) – but in any case God has taken so much more into account than we could ever imagine this side of heaven that there is no profit in trying to "figure it out" ahead of time. Sometimes we will see; sometimes not. Faith trusts the Lord both when we are blessed to see and when we are not, knowing that everything that happens is indeed for our good, especially if we are hewing as closely as possible to our dear Lord Jesus in our daily walk.

Wishing you a merry Christmas in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

I'm having some trouble in college. It looks like I may fail a course this semester, and I'm already on academic probation. I have no employable skills, so if I do get "the boot," all the job options available to me will be essentially jobs that I didn't need to take thousands of dollars in student loans to do. Imagine what fun it will be explaining that to my parents. [details omitted]

(1) Is God pouring His wrath out on me?

(2) Is God leading me to my ministry?

I need help/advice that will edify and not confuse, so I am turning to you.

Sincerely,

Response #5:

In my experience of these sorts of things, God's mercy is more often in view – for those like yourself who are walking closely with Jesus and trying to grow spiritually day by day – than is His judgment:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 NIV

So while I would accept that the Lord uses circumstances to guide us, please remember that "perfect love casts out fear" (1Jn.4:18), meaning that while we respect and revere our God above all things, we are not terrified by Him as unbelievers are (or should be). We know that He is helping us in all things, even when things go wrong – and even if we are culpable in the event. If we are culpable, then we should confess, redress, and push forward.

As an academic, I know that all universities which pretend to greatness these days are very much concerned about their graduation rates. I cannot be sure about your particular situation of course, but you may find that if you work with them they will bend farther over on your account than you presently imagine. It may mean some remedial work et al., but it is safe to say that especially with you being a senior they want you to graduate too. To wit . . .

Practical advice: 1) start studying harder and studying more (and please, please begin to do so immediately in the event that finals are not yet over for you); 2) in the short term, throw yourself on the mercy of the court and try not to get booted (accept whatever remediation may be offered – it's easier and better in the long run to push through now rather than retool later); 3) do a better job with your course work (spend your prime time on study that is apropos of your classes and not on optional personal interests); 4) if the courses are a problem, take different courses; 5) if the courses are mandatory, choose a different major (and worry about job prospects later); 6) but remember that your main objective at present – and your main area of witnesses to the grace and power of the Lord – is to be successful as a student, your current area of endeavor: above (almost) all else, do what it takes to get that degree (some time for personal spiritual devotions is of course not begrudged by the Lord). I know you have been distracted by a number of things you have shared with me over the years, and it's safe to say that the evil one's ministers have noted the areas of vulnerability and have attacked to good effect – but nothing is impossible for the Lord (please remember). If you are willing to fight, He will fight with you and for you.

I will certainly pray for you in this.

Finally, I would be very reluctant to put too much weight on any dream you had, especially if said dream could not absolutely be attributed to the Lord, if it contained some ambiguity of interpretation, and if it dove-tails with "what I really want" (along with offering an escape from what I found difficult). Ask yourself: is there any possible ministry that getting your degree would foreclose? I don't think so. But leaving your studies behind at this point will limit options, probably even ministry options (and going back to school later will be all that much harder). Remember, Peter and friends gave the Lord two options also in the first chapter of Acts: Matthias and Joseph – but the Lord had already picked Paul. Please don't box yourself in by positing a false dichotomy.

The "practical advice" included above points to the hardest choice of pulling your academic career out of the fire with blood, sweat and tears. Of course it would be easier to give up. Which means that going forward is probably the right choice. You have to make this decision, of course, but please make it the cold light of realism, without allowing rationalization to guide you. An old USMC axiom: if it really hurts, it's probably the right thing.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

1)What is the biblical definition of persecution? It seems to be loaded down with a worldly definition, an "us (believers) against them (unbelievers)" which sounds more paranoid and political than biblical.

2)"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Though scripture talks about it being against forces of evil why does God say to allow Him to avenge us when it comes to us having enemies while telling us to turn the other cheek and pray for them? Are our enemies human but the ones persecuting us in reality from the devil?

Response #6:

As to your first question, words in all languages change over time. They may specialize to certain meanings or circumstances, or pick or drop certain connotations. Take the word "astonished", for example. The word is of Latin derivation and means, literally, "struck by lightning". Clearly though we don't mean that at all when we use it today (or anything quite so dramatic). The phenomenon of "picking up of baggage" is one that does often occur also, especially for words used in political or religious contexts. So if "persecution" seems paranoid and political to you, that may be how the word is trending. Obviously, English words used to translate biblical words and phrases are translation devices, and it is up to the translator to try to avoid giving any wrong impressions – but the translators of the KJV can scarcely be held responsible for having chosen that word (and related words) based upon the (potentially misleading) emotional impression it might give to some readers in the USA today. The only persecution the Bible mentions or is interested in is that directed against believers, and it is very clear what is involved, namely, threats and actual physical attacks, ejections from home, imprisonment, torture, and even death leveled against believers because of their faith. There is plenty of persecution of believers on account of their faith worldwide today, and it is certainly a good idea for us all to remember these poor souls whenever we say our prayers. During the Tribulation, during the Great Persecution, there will be a systematic attack directed against all believers everywhere with the intent of getting us to forsake Christ (see the link).

As to Ephesians 6:12, I think you are correct. We are to forgive our enemies, even those who persecute us, and we are not to try to avenge ourselves on them (which of course is antithetical to forgiveness). Certainly, we cannot (at this point) do anything at all in a physical manner against our unseen adversaries (this will change at the resurrection; see the link: "The Incarceration of Satan and his Demons"); what we can do, however, is to persevere in doing what Christ wants us to do. That is how we win this spiritual warfare, namely, by giving a good witness "to men and angels both", and by following the orders of our Commanding Officer, our dear Lord Jesus, even when and if we are being virulently opposed by the minions of the evil one.

Here are a few related links:

SR 4: Satan's World System

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Hell

Spiritual Warfare II

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dr.

Real quick. I was thinking about my Christ and I can't stop thinking about him. I know in revelation, God said he will wipe all tears but all tears are not sorrowful. There are tears of joy. I wonder why God won't allow us to cry tears of joy at Jesus feet when we initially meet him to get it out of our system about the magnitude of what He has done for us.

It is similar to when I hear a worship song and I cry because it reminds me of what He has taken over my life and how I want to be near him why not initially in heaven.

Your thoughts are always appreciated. This is not a bible study question just an off hand question about how I would feel when I finally meet him.

In Christ, our savior, lord and redeemer.

God bless Dr.

Response #7:

I think you have said it all here. We have no idea how much we will be blessed just by being in His presence. But one thing is for sure: our eternal bodies will have a boundless capacity for joy and its expression that is far superior to what we have now. So knowing that what we have now in Him is wonderful, we can anticipate the wonder of what will come all that much more.

Wishing you and yours a blessed 2015!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

One proof of God's existence to me is the feeling of the Holy Spirit, there is no denying that feeling once you've felt it. I was reading an article about Brad Pitt (the actor) years ago and he mentioned he used to go to church and he was a Christian at one time. However, he went to a rock concert in the late 70's and got the same feeling (but stronger) from going to a rock concert. That's an interesting point and he's right; Satan is extremely deceptive! The difference is, the feeling you get from music is like a drug: it wears off and eventually doesn't work. Like drugs, euphoria is a temporary side effect and once that wears off, you use the drug to keep from getting sick and to feel *normal*. Eventually, you feel sick all the time no matter what you take; that's when people overdose and die. The feeling you get from the Holy Spirit coming into you never wears off, not ever. It took me 25 years to grasp this concept and it's not something I read in a book, it's something that God allowed me to figure out. I don't need proof of the existence of Jesus any more but a lot of people do; something to think about, not sure if you come across a lot of people in trouble, people doubting the existence of Christ or denying his power

Response #8:

Good comments, my friend!

I believe you have hit the nail on the head here by suggesting that the confidence believers feel about the power and the presence of God is the combination of the Holy Spirit interacting with their faith – without God's input, we are all in the dark; without faith, we are unable to receive what the Spirit communicates. One important thing to add is that the truth of the Word of God is the key to all of this – that is what you are responding to in a positive emotional way which is only possible through the Spirit's ministry (and the effect becomes ever more profound as we grow in Christ).

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
1st Corinthians 2:14 NIV

You friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Do you feel it is normal to have past hauntings about the unpardonable sin when I misinterpreted it?

Response #9:

This is a question of faith. For a believer who wants to grow, first, one has to become accustomed to leaning on the Lord and His provision instead of on oneself and what one may have or be able to do. Second, one has to lean on the Bible and believe it. Third, one has to find a good Bible teaching ministry to lean on – it's not really possible to lean on more than one at a time and get anywhere. To be honest, I think you listen too attentively to too many sources. If a person listens to many Bible teachers, and even if they are all "good" in God's eyes, just the fact they will not agree 100% on everything and will express things in a different way may be enough to create doubt in a believer's heart. It doesn't have to be Ichthys, but if you want peace and if you want to grow, you need to find a reliable source to lean on. The Spirit will not let you down in finding such a place if you seek it with integrity; and even if you make a mistake the Spirit will guide you out of every wrong place until you find the right place if you are approaching the matter with a genuine desire to seek the truth above all else. But playing referee between multiple sources (of questionable bona fides) who disagree on key points of interpretation will always result in "spiritual indigestion" – because you won't know what to believe so you won't truly believe anything.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Bob!

I hope this email finds you well! I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last wrote you.

Things have mostly been good since I last emailed. Your site has been such a blessing and I continue to grow in the Lord with your help. It seems I can find almost any question I might have on your site. I feel like I’m further along in my walk but it’s been slower this past year. My 89 year old father had a massive pulmonary embolism last February and it didn’t look good. God came through and he’s still with us today, and in better health. This is the second time in three years that my dad has been snatched from death by God. What a testament to His grace and provision. I live with and take care of my parents, not that they’re really bad off, but they do need some help. More of my time has been spent with their needs than my own and my Bible study has slowed but I feel like I’m still going forward.

The last few days I’ve been reading about health issues, encouragement, healing, etc. on your site. I have a serious health concern, and I tend to be a worrier. And not just wring your hands and fret – I’m talking about physically sick, crying, etc. I pray and God comforts me. I ask friends, family, fellow Christians to pray for me and I feel His comfort. I know worrying is a sin but I can’t seem to get past it. I do fine for awhile and then I’m worrying again. I’m sure this will get better as I spiritually mature but I’m afraid I won’t make it that long if I don’t quit worrying!

I know Satan can influence us but can he put thoughts in your mind? I don’t think he has that kind of power but people I ask to pray for me tell me, "Just tell the Devil to shut up and leave you alone" or something along those lines. I know we’re not given a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) and Jesus tells us to fear not and cast our care (1 Peter 5:7—which is one of my favorite verses). I cast my care and then reel it back in. I don’t subscribe to "positive confession", either. I believe in being positive and try to be. To me, it is like they are making words "magic". Say this and you will be healed. Say that and this will happen.

I also know that if it is serious that He will be with me throughout. He is bigger than any diseases. I’ve seen Him come through for my dad and I know He can come through for me. Maybe this is a way to get me back to Him like he did in the past. Maybe it’s a "strengthening" test. I’ve confessed everything I can think of and have forgiven all that I can remember. I’ve prayed that I haven’t taken communion unworthily. I don’t believe it is related to sin, or at least I hope not. See where my mind is? I just pray that if it is serious that I will be able to be a good witness for Jesus. My relative died of cancer three years ago. She was brought up a Christian but wandered away like most of us do. When she was diagnosed she was given 2 to 2 1/2 years. She came back to the Lord and He gave her 4 years, one month and 3 days. She was such a positive person during her time and so many people told us how she touched their lives during her illness.

Would you please pray for me that in these next few days I find peace and not worry or be afraid? Would you also put me on your prayer list? Hopefully I’ll get good news at the dr. I pray that no matter what happens that I will glorify my Lord.

Sorry for another long email. Once I get going I can’t stop!

Thank you again for your wonderful site that has helped bring me closer to our Lord and has been giving me comfort.

Yours in Christ,

Response #10:

I will most certainly be remembering you in my prayers.

Don't be too hard on yourself about this. God has everything in hand, but we mere human beings often have a hard time remembering just what that means, namely, that every single event has already been decreed, and that He has already made perfect provision for all we face. Therefore the only true concern should be making good decisions, like trusting Him, and avoiding bad ones, like failing to deploy all the truth we have learned in the proper way. It's easy said; it's harder to do when the pressure cranks up. But that is the way to growth and getting better at it is the result of growth. And it is also true that each of us has natural strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the things in this world which can put the pressure on. But God is sufficient for everything.

I certainly sympathize with your impatience with well-meaning but really empty words and phrases, childish words from the immature (of which contemporary evangelicalism in our Laodicean day is replete). One thing I have learned in this respect relates to Paul's statement about being happy in his weakness because that very weakness makes him strong (2Cor.12:10). I wrestled with that for many years, but I think I understand it now: when we are weak, we have no doubt about the fact that the matter in question is totally in God's hands. We don't have to worry that we will turn right when we should have turned left or vice versa; we don't have to worry that we are "not doing enough"; we don't have to worry that somehow we will be insufficient to the challenge, "shoot at Goliath and miss", etc. When we are weak, truly weak, and aware that we are by no means sufficient to the challenge, test or trial . . . of our own accord, then it truly is easier to trust the Lord (or should be). For in such a case we can do nothing except to trust Him; He must act on our behalf if we are to be delivered since we cannot bring about deliverance ourselves by normal means. The only things we need to do in such circumstances of absolute helplessness are 1) do nothing wrong (e.g., out of panic); 2) deploy a rock-solid faith that God is standing there and bringing about the outcome that is His will: our part is to accept the test and the result with an inner smile (even if it comes amidst the outward tears), being grateful that we have grown enough in the truth to be entrusted with such a test.

On the issue of thoughts et al., this is a question area that I am often asked about and I will give you links below. We are indeed "masters" of our own thoughts in that we do have the free will to think what we will and to refuse to think what we do not will. However, "thinking" takes place "in the heart" and the heart is where the perfect spirit and the sinful flesh meet together (covered in BB 3A: Anthropology). As long as we are in these bodies of sin, we will have to suppress fear, envy, jealousy, anger, doubt, and all manner of wrong-thinking. When it comes to these sorts of temptations to think the wrong things, we do have to meet that assault directly, say "no!", reject the wrong, and substitute the good and right and righteous in its place:

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

No doubt the evil one and his helpers do goad the sin nature on (as if it needed any help), but by actions taken in the physical world around us and by suggestion rather than by direct insertion of ideas. And it is not hard for them to figure out a potentially successful approach. After all, it is easy for friends and family to figure out where we are vulnerable in our thinking merely by listening to our words and watching our actions – how much more so immortal creatures with supernatural powers? But we do have complete control over our own free will, and if we are determined not to kow-tow to our doubts and fears (or other temptations), we can do much to master our inner thought life. To do so, however, does take 1) spiritual growth, 2) a deep store of truth in the heart believed and recalled and "circulated" like our life blood in all of our thought-processes, 3) the persistent practice of deploying that truth aggressively against all assaults large or small, and very importantly 4) a consistent reliance on the Holy Spirit within us, the One who opposes the thinking of the flesh at every turn (there is much about that in BB 5: Pneumatology).

Here are some of those links:

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle

The Battlefield (in SR #4)

Satan's Techniques of Temptation

Our New Orientation as Reborn Believer (in BB 4B)

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

Techniques of Virtue Thinking

Walking with Jesus

Spiritual Warfare IV: Demons, Demonic Influences and Satanic Methodology

Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing

Sin, Salvation and Forgiveness: Claiming the Mental and Spiritual High-Ground

Let me know how things turn out.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior – who is always at our side.

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for the encouraging email. And thank you for explaining 2 Cor. 12:10. I have also struggled with that passage and what you said makes perfect sense. I think it’s hard, at least for me, to give up control. I certainly don’t have much, if any, in this situation. I remember when my dad was in the hospital and they had to give him a "clot buster" to break up the embolism. If they did it, there was a 30-40% chance he could have a brain bleed and die. I remember praying something like "it’s in Your hands." I felt an unbelievable peace come over me and I knew everything would be ok no matter what happened. This time I chose to worry myself sick over it!

After reading your email I gave it all back to Him and, for now, the battlefield is quiet. I need to be more proactive in the fight instead of letting thoughts take over like that. Don’t entertain them; just nip it in the bud when it happens.

Thank you for the links. I knew you would have a wealth of information on your site. And thank you again for taking the time to email me back. I’m so glad He lead me to your site two years ago. You and your site have been such a blessing to me. I’ll let you know what I find out for sure.

In Him,

Response #11:

You're very welcome.

I'll pray for you – and thanks for your prayers too. This is a "big week" here on the job and health fronts for me and mine.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

Praise God it wasn’t cancer! Thank you so much for all your prayers. They were so appreciated! I hope that you received good news on the "job" and the health fronts, too. I will continue to keep you and yours in prayer.

Something that I was experiencing while going through this anxiety for the last two weeks was peace and also a sense that I shouldn’t be so peaceful. I had so many wonderful people praying for me and I could really feel the peace of God. I’m sure this is one of those "battlefield" instances, but I would also feel that I shouldn’t be so peaceful at the same time. I felt confident that it wasn’t cancer but then I would feel that maybe I was just in denial and it was. Maybe I’m still too focused on feelings and not enough on truth. Truth is no matter what happens God is in control and that gives me peace.

Anyway, this was a great growing experience for me. It drew me even closer to God and it also showed areas of weakness and immaturity that I need to work on.

Thanks again for the encouragement, the prayers and your ministry. I pray that you and yours will get your good news soon!

In Christ,

Response #12:

Great news!

I rejoice with you in the Lord! And I don't think you have to "feel bad" about "feeling good" in the Lord. I think you appreciate that it's not about feelings, good or bad, but about our leading our thoughts "into captivity for Christ" no matter how we may feel. Congratulations on your spiritual victory . . . and the good news!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

p.s. – thanks for your prayers

Question #13:

Hello,

How are you? My respect for you is growing day by day. Your dedication, sacrifice and hard work inspires me. I wish to serve my brothers and sisters just like you.

Our friend has gifted me a NIV study Bible (1983). Its so much better than the 2011 one.

Sir, can I ask you for a favor? Will you speak to me regularly? I have still to meet a believer in India. I am surrounded by so much superstition. Its getting difficult to live here.

How is your mother? I pray for her. I pray that my mother starts believing too!

I pray that you serve the Lord well.

Response #13:

Hello my friend!

Great to hear from you as always. Please – do write me any time. I have not been contacting many people I know, hoping first (after all this time) to have some good news to report.

How are you doing? I have been praying for you daily, hoping that the Lord will open up a path for you to provide for your family in a wonderful way.

I'm very happy to hear that you have been keeping up your conversation with our mutual friend, and also that you have received this Bible. It sounds the same as the one I use every day as well.

Thanks for your kind words, my friend. I do think of you often. Please don't hesitate to write me, even if you don't yet have any good news either. This world is passing away, along with everything in it. We only have to make it through one day at a time, and we can be sure that our Lord is holding us by the hand and taking us to just the right place. Truly, everything that happens is for the good (Rom.8:28), so that we may properly thank God for everything (1Thes.5:18). It takes a good deal of spiritual growth to appreciate this, to really "count it all joy" (Jas.1:2), even in the midst of testing and tribulation. However, we who are of faith understand that God has already decreed every provision, every deliverance we shall ever need. Our job is to "watch the tape" as it rolls with the right attitude of absolute reliance on Him.

I will be praying for you to find some good Christian fellowship. That is a rarity even in this country even though there are plenty of "Christians" (I personally only have a very small circle I would count as close in Christ – you are certainly in that number).

I have been and will continue to pray for your mother and your whole family, for their salvation and all good things. My mother is still hanging in there after a very difficult fall and winter. She is out of rehab (although her neck is still technically broken – she has to wear a brace at all times). She has had happier times, but I am impressed with the fact that she hasn't let all of these troubles which come with extreme old age affect her faith in a negative way. It's never easy to bear up under pressure. But those who do are not only assured of salvation – this is also the way to glorify Christ and earn the rewards He promises us in the process.

Keep fighting the fight of faith, my friend. We will most definitely keep in closer touch.

Your friend in Jesus forevermore.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello, I'm from Brazil, and I'm so grateful for find your work. I'm Christian and now I found a new meaning in my walks with Jesus. Your studies brought to me a new hunger for God's word and a knowledge that I never imagined. I needed write to you, to say thank you for this bright work – you can be sure i'm praying for your ministry. Your studies have changed my understanding of God and the Bible, congratulations and sorry about my English it's precarious. One more time thank you Dr. Lunginbill. For sure I will be meditating and studying your great work.

Muito obrigado

Response #14:

Thank you for your interest in this ministry, and please accept my gratitude for your good and enthusiastic words of appreciation. You English is very good – and far superior to my Portuguese!

Please feel free to write any time – and thanks so much also for your prayers!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #15:

Dear Professor,

It’s been a while since I last emailed you, I hope everything is well with you? I have been keeping you in my prayers.

This is just a quick email from me to send across some suggested amendments to the Soteriology study as I had promised in one of my previous emails.

Thank you for all your prayer. I ended up doing very well in my exams, much better than I anticipated. This was undoubtedly through the Lord’s help, and all your prayers. I am ever so grateful for them.

Things have been challenging lately, mainly from the burden of academic commitments (and the ever present professional commitments) as I edge ever closer to the end of my degree. There is still a lot to improve on, but I am doing my best to carry my cross daily and persist in spiritual growth. It is all too easy for secular pursuits to darken the perspective. I try to keep reminding myself that my spiritual ‘graduation’ will far outweigh my secular one. Undoubtedly, the former entails a much lengthier commitment, but returns the greatest permanent rewards vs. a temporary certificate. What’s more, it will be our Lord Jesus Christ who evaluates my life and (hopefully) provides me with the eternal rewards on the Day of judgement. What a stark contrast to the dean of my department at university, who I will probably see for the first time as we exchange handshakes for all but a few seconds. Jesus Christ knows me better than I do myself, the One who paid the ultimate ransom for my sins and bought me from slavery to sin (and this world). How much more fitting will His evaluation and rewards be?! Ineffably so.

I have progressed onto Pneumatology now, which I am thoroughly enjoying as the Holy Spirit is probably the ‘least’ I am familiar with out of the Trinity. As I read your studies I keep thinking to myself how I would have loved to have been a student in one of your classes. Having said that, it feels like I am already through Ichthys.

Your brother in Jesus,

Response #15:

Thank you for this inspiring email. I'm thrilled to hear of your academic progress, but more so of course of your continued spiritual progress and growth. Thanks also so much for your prayers on my behalf; they are very much appreciated. I keep you and your progress in my prayers day by day as well.

On the attachment, thanks so much for catching these typos. I have already made the corrections in the major files.

Keep up the good work, my friend, and thanks also so much for "entering into the work" of improving these postings.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

My prayers are the least I feel I can do for all the teachings that you have graciously provided and made freely available to us who are intent on seeking the truth. I will continue to honour that commitment.

I just wanted to mention how encouraged I was this week from the ‘Spiritual Growth’ email postings. I eagerly await your new email postings every Saturday night (due to the time difference). I was so encouraged reading through your responses - m ice to say it made our day. I am pleased to tell you that he continues to maintain a forward orientation and continuously seems to be making powerful strides forward in his pursuit of the Word. He is working through your studies and is already on Anthropology now, coupled with daily Bible reading. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the prayer you have invested in him. God has used you to shine the truth of the light of His Word and it has changed both of our lives, as it has undoubtedly to many others. Your teachings not only make the truth digestible and satiating but they also instill a hunger to pursue the Word with intent and purpose. I often think to myself that your love for the Logos, the very embodiment of the Word, and His sheep, is what drives you to fulfill your ministry daily - and that is very much reflected in all your email responses that are full of grace and truth. I praise God for such a servant of the Word and I look forward to rejoicing with you on that Day of days when you are rewarded with your crowns.

Through your ministry in Ichthys I have found my church.

In our Lord Jesus, the Head of the body,

Response #16:

Thank you.

I certainly appreciate your heartfelt words – they are a great encouragement to me. I do want you to remember what you already must indeed know, namely, that any glory belongs to God because only God can do anything actually and genuinely "good". As should be obvious just from the typos you are finding, I am a "dull axe", but the One who wields it knows no limitations.

I am also delighted to hear about your brother. How wonderful to have a family member so close who not only believes but also shares your genuine enthusiasm for the truth of the Word of God! That is a very rare and truly blessed thing, and I hope you both will continue to treasure it. I am keeping him in my prayers day by day as well.

This is a difficult time for many brothers and sisters in Christ – as the growing prayer list at Ichthys indicates. I have no doubt that the Lord is preparing us for what comes next. For however difficult things may seem now, it is sure to be the case that the level of challenge will increase once the dark times ahead begin. I am very pleased to know someone of your spiritual caliber, and I rejoice to think that in due time you will be leading others forward through the Word of God as well, helping them prepare for all that is to come.

Your friend forever in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dr. Robert,

I want to first say thank you for all you have done to grow me up in the Word. Your ministry has been invaluable in me.

I am going write about some personal issues I am going through and need spiritual guidance on how to best deal with it. You have my permission to add all the contents of this email, apart from my name, and your response for others benefit.

I was not raised in Christ, even though I married an ardent believer. I was a Muslim, grew up n a polygamous household and had a zealot father. I married a Christian woman with the disapproval of my family and we agreed to raise our kids in the Christian faith. My family and I never had the same relationship again and I am currently ostracized because of this marriage.

When I married my wife, I was a manipulator and felt that I did not need God in any decision making. I can do things on my own. I was extremely selfish, self centered, a liar, etc. I took care of my family but I was a mostly interested in getting what I needed when I needed.

Five years later it was actually my boss at work who introduced me to Christ. He gave me a book titled "More than a carpenter" that helped me understand that Jesus can either be a liar, lunatic or Lord. He can't be more than one. It really opened my eyes up to who Jesus really was. My perception of him was strictly from my upbringing of him being a prophet and that was it. I did not listen to my wife, well because she was my wife, unfortunately. But I believe her ardent prayers opened up my heart to receive the truth. So when it was presented to me, I was ready and it made sense and at that moment, I accepted Jesus as Christ, savior, Son of God, redeemer and Lord of my life but that is where it stopped for me. Yes, this person took me under his wings initially and took me to some bible study at his church, etc but I believed I was not truly transformed at that time.

My daily walk did not reflect the new nature God has graciously given me and at that time my old nature ruled supreme. I hardly picked up the Bible and was basically the same person apart from my confession.

Little did I know that the continuous prayer of my wife and God's unbreakable will would dramatically change my life forever [details of mistakes and resultant personal disasters and spiritual ups and downs omitted]. We became completely destitute because of my actions and unwillingness to bend to His will. But He was not finished with me.

During this period away, I studied more, prayed more and finally felt a peace that I can not explain. He twisted and stretched me and made me rely on Him and Him alone, this also included my wife. When He takes all your moves you think you had, that is when his Glory and Mercy and Loving-kindness really shows. I had a vision the last week prior to me returning home. I know you are not big on interpreting dreams but this was a dream from the Lord to me. I do believe when He really wants to touch a person, He will visually do it. I came home a changed man and my wife noticed the difference. I prayed continuously, found your site for additional spiritual growth, went to church on a regular basis. My family sees me reading the Bible as a daily devotion in the morning and evening doing intensive studies. I do not watch T.V like I normally would do and listen to nothing but sermons and Christian music now. I honestly can tell you Dr. Bob that I have no desire in my life except pleasing Christ. I was baptized recently and the Lord has kept this family together, provided me with income to support my family and really has been the Rock of this family. My wife and I are going on nearly two decades of marriage and have never grown more together than through this ordeal spiritually. But I don't believe He is done with me and even though He has been faithful. This part that might potentially come up is scaring me and has the possibility of either shaking my faith or strengthening it to a degree that will be unbreakable. I am concerned that there is one more major shoe to drop because of the things I did in the past. His grace was sufficient for me during my other ordeal and I believe it will be during this one.

I just have a question on His mercy. I think I know the answer and maybe it is a hard pill to swallow but God's mercy doesn't overlook prior sin. I know that. Even though I am walking in His will, I still have to account for an act that was committed many years ago. I am having a hard time with this Dr. He has blessed my family and gave me a great job and my family situation is really good now. I am closer to him than ever. I am questioning why would he risk tearing that apart? I keep going to Romans 8:28 and I believe this passage but I know what effect this will have on my family. All this happened during the time of great stress in my life and I know it is not an excuse. I just need I guess consolation and advice from someone I really trust and who God brought in my life.

I apologize for the long email and have been losing a lot of sleep. All this news came out of nowhere. I thought God had mercy on me because all this occurred in the past and I have not heard a thing for years. Now out of the blue it comes up. I have not spoken to my wife about this news and now this will devastate my family and I am really struggling spiritually with this. I don't want to be in a situation where i have a complete lack of faith but I also know that my actions caused this.

I really need help and prayer.

Thanks for listening Dr.

Yours in Christ Jesus.

Response #17:

Let me say first of all, my friend, that if ever this email exchange is ever published it will involve a good deal of redaction so that it will be truly anonymous.

Let me assure you too that you are not the first person who has ever seemingly needed to get into big trouble in order to finally get right with the Lord and start moving forward. If I may be so bold it is no doubt because He knew that you were willing to finally not only accept Him but to grow and progress with Him – and some day serve Him – that you have suffered these things. After all, we read in scripture . . .

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
Psalm 73:3-6 NIV

Moses committed murder (personally). David committed murder (through his lieutenants). Paul committed murder (at least as an accessory). Yet the Lord did not allow they to be punished to the full extent of the law. And what you have done is inestimably less.

But with you there is forgiveness. Therefore you are feared.
Psalm 130:4 1984 NIV

You are also not the first Christian who has needed a serious boot in the behind from the Lord to stop engaging in very un-Christian behavior. If the Lord kept a record of sin, who could stand (Ps.130:3)? Our Lord Jesus tells us the story of the prodigal son for a reason: even when we are aware that we have strayed far and done things for which the world may never be willing to forgive us, God forgives . . . when we come back to Him with all our heart (as you have done). That does not mean as you know that there is no corrective discipline, but it does mean that we have been welcomed back into the Lord's loving embrace, so that all He does now is for our blessing, to help us, not for our cursing, to harm us.

I am not a prophet. I do not know the future. I do know that the evil one uses guilt and fear, flip-sides of the same coin of negative emotion, to terrorize believers when he can. None of us is without regrets for things long past. But things long past are indeed long past. Generally I get emails from individuals who are allowing guilt about something done long ago to torture them; they then tend to blame all the adversity in their lives on what they previously did. But didn't God forgive them? Indeed He did, and they are forgiven – as you have been forgiven.

It is true that there are consequences to our actions in the normal course of how this world works, and you have certainly drunk that cup to the full. But even when it comes to things we should have suffered or disadvantages under which we are laboring because of what we have done in this world, my personal testimony, my knowledge of the Lord's working in the lives of others, and what I know from scripture all say the same thing: whatever happens now will be for blessing (as it was for Moses, David and Paul). I certainly have things from my past long ago that if they somehow surfaced in a perfect storm of imponderable coincidence could be disastrous. But I refuse to fear any such thing. I know that whatever should happen, now that I have long since turned back to the Lord, will be for His glory and my good. I know that whatever should happen of a negative bent will not be from Him but from the evil one, allowed by Him for reasons I may not understand in their particulars, but most definitely and assuredly for the good in every way.

And we know that, for those who love God, He works everything together for good – [that is to say,] for those who have been called according to His plan.
Romans 8:28

I certainly am not going to tell you that nothing will come of this latest threat to your spiritual peace. As I said, I don't know the future in its details. But I do know that since you have repented of all of your wrong-doing, have long since confessed and turned these matters over to the Lord, and, indeed, have clearly had you fill of divine discipline, and most particularly have "come home" like the prodigal son and are now doing your best to walk with Jesus, growing in Him and serving His Church, that you have no need to fear. He is your wall of fire against whatever may come.

'And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the LORD, 'and I will be its glory within.'
Zechariah 2:5 NIV

We are sometimes delivered from the fire; sometimes we have to go through the fire. But whether go through fire or water (Ps.66:12), the Lord is with us every step of the way when we are truly growing in Him and walking with Him. He is able to deliver you from this terror; He is able to bring you safely through this terror. Whatever Jesus has in mind, there is no need to fear, because it is all part of the detailed plan of God for you which is now in every way for blessing, and not in any way for cursing. That is the case regardless of what the world may think, and regardless of what our eyes may see, and our ears may hear, and our emotions may feel under the pressure of worldly suffering. Terrible times are about to come upon the whole world, and we few believers who understand that we are going to have to be spiritually prepared in order to bear up under those pressures faithfully are indeed being prepared for that ultimate time of trial to come. So I can't say that I am on the point of being delivered from my own personal impending disaster [note: I was delivered – praise the Lord!], nor can I tell you that what you are tempted to fear will not take place. But I can tell you that I will be very surprised indeed if it does for you or for me. I am often surprised by what happens in this life, so please don't take my confidence for prophecy. But I know the love and the mercy and the faithfulness of our dear Lord, and I know that He is the God of deliverances – and that oftentimes these take place at the very last moment:

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
Genesis 22:10-12 NIV

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Daniel 3:17-18 NIV

Abraham was delivered at the last moment from slaying his son and burning him on the altar; the three friends of Daniel were thrown into the fire, but they were not in any way harmed by the flames. Whether we are delivered from the fiery furnace or brought safely through it, in either case we can despise any shame, spit out any guilt, renounce all fear, and glory in any humiliation – knowing that whatever happens to us will be in God's gracious plan and for His glory, and will have nothing whatsoever to do in fact with our past imperfections.

If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
Isaiah 54:15 NIV

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV

I will be keeping you in my prayers, dear friend. Be strong and courageous. The Lord is with you, and He will not let you down. Be faithful to Him. That makes all the difference.

Do feel free to write me back.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dr. I also forgot to mention the reason why I am reaching out is because I am seeing it has an effect of on my prayer and devotional and study time. I can't focus. I worry and I have lost interest in everything including work because of this.

Maybe the faith I thought I had was not really faith at all. I don't trust my emotions right now. I think one of the main reason is not me leaving but I am the primary bread winner of this house and when or if I leave, my wife and family will have nothing. It is terrifying to think I am the one that caused.

Thank you for listening and God bless.

Response #18:

Be strong and courageous, my friend. You haven't left yet – and the Lord hasn't left you. Now is the time to keep Him close by you in your heart. Let the weakness of the situation work for you, and not against you: you have nothing you can do so you really do have to trust in Him. I am sure that is what Paul meant when he wrote in the Spirit . . .

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2nd Corinthians 12:9 NIV

The Lord loves you whether or not you pray and whether or not you study. If the trial that has come upon you impedes your efforts, well, He surely understands that. But better to be strong and courageous and show the world of men and angels both that you trust Him even when the going gets tough. Try to take comfort in the fact that you are now not able to rely on yourself at all, but are completely in His hands. Those, after all, are wonderful hands to be in.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, 'Destroy them!'
Deuteronomy 27:3 NIV

I have added you to the Ichthys prayer list and will be keeping you in prayer every day as well. The Lord is good. His mercy is great. He loves you and will not forsake you. Trust Him, and He will bring your deliverance to pass. Only keep faith with Him and He will keep faith with you.

In the Name of the One who died in the darkness for all the sins for which we otherwise have no answer before God, our Savior now and forever, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

Bob L.

Question #19:

Thank you Dr. I really appreciated and I really needed to hear it. I do love Him with all my heart and not because of what He has done but for what He is. He is my Christ, my Lord, my Savior and my God. I do trust in Him regardless and will never forsake Him. I needed to hear this from an encourager like you. I will earnestly continue to pray and be at peace with what His will is. The only thing I have to earnestly pray about is how to tell my wife. That is the biggest burden. I think she needs to know but I will pray and wait and let God tell me if it is prudent. Maybe this is only a test of my faith and not hers and if I tell her too prematurely then it causes unnecessary stress. This is where I am concerned.

God bless you always in Christ Jesus

Response #19:

Hello dear friend,

Your thinking sounds prudent to me. I will pray for your deliverance so that it never comes to that. But, come what may, we know that the Lord is completely faithful so that we may have courage in Him, courage to face the lion's den, as long as we are right with Him.

The wicked flee when no one pursues,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.
Proverbs 28:1 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Thank you much and God bless.

Response #20:

You are very welcome, my friend. I look forward to hearing good news from you very soon – and in being able to give it. After all, God is nothing but "good".

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!
May He send you help from the sanctuary
And support you from Zion!
May He remember all your meal offerings
And find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.
May He grant you your heart’s desire
And fulfill all your counsel!
We will sing for joy over your victory,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
Psalm 20:1b-5 NASB

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior for whom absolutely nothing is impossible,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Dr.

I hope all is well with you. I do want to tell you that I am at peace since we last spoke. I asked daily for the Holy Spirit to fill me with peace and let His will be done in this situation. It is not a guarantee that I will get what I really want but I am at peace knowing that He is with me and everything will come out for His glory.

Thank you Dr and may our God of grace, peace and mercy be with you and your ministry. I will keep you posted.

God bless in Jesus name.

Response #21:

Do keep me posted. I am keeping you in my prayers. I know that the Lord will work it all out for the good, though I cannot tell ahead of time what the details will be. "It didn't turn out the way I expected" is the theme of my own life, and how often that unexpected turn was for the good once I came back to the Lord – even if it did not seem so at the time!

Hang in there my friend. Jesus loves you and wants only the best for you . . . the true spiritual best in every way.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

[note: our friend was granted some respite; he is still in need of your prayers]

Question #22:

Thank you Bob for taking the time to reply back in less than a heartbeat. I for one am not questioning or doubting your work in this ministry. I try to be a good student and have accepted your authority having put myself under your tutelage a while ago. Bob sometimes I wonder if it's a blessing to be good enough for "skin deep" (like where am at) well am not judging my relative here just because he is a tad inquisitive, just that I don't have major headaches like he does right now. I have forwarded your latest response to him and have encouraged him to write to you if he is led to without hesitation.

I guess with my mental health issues (majorly due to my severe case of Adult ADHD and its co-morbidities), this is all skin deep and I can handle without going insane. Well there are more severe debilitating conditions like paranoid schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder to name a few, a question that I am fighting hard is why does God allow people to have brain conditions like ADHD? I look and seem normal, but I know am seriously abnormal, the raw deal is when people don't seem to get it and believe I am making things up; this has hurt me the most. The real pain is when I have to fit in with the normal brained (non-Adhd) group as am not apparently fully insane for them (mostly family) to be convinced I should be granted exclusion. That's so hard bro! It is getting in the way of my relationship with God even. I know we can't know everything yet when I see that my struggles are mine and I have to writhe and wallow for as long as I have to it makes everything all the more sour.

Contrary to what some folks in the ADHD community would like to believe it is no gift. I believe ADHD is a curse every way you look at it. It has completely ruined my relationships and my life in toto. I know you are not an expert on this subject, yet I have ranted much. I am posting a link here though totally unrelated to the subject at hand, yet since I have found no real answers to the many hard questions Christians with ADHD struggle with. The struggles are constant with no ray of light at the end of the tunnel Bob. I have read stories of many Christians who have lost their faith as they are unable to cope with the mounting pressures and mostly having to live with the title.."not good enough for anything", let alone pleasing God... so sadly they get to a state where they think...why bother anymore....let the chips fall where they may. That's heartbreaking and am hoping I won't end up there. Many are asking questions and these are real issues bro.

Please have a look to get a hang of what ADHD households look like when you really have the time. It's a war zone Bob!

http://connect.additudemag.com/groups/topic/Why_does_GOD_allow_Mental_illness/

Thanks much for showing me your kindness bro. I will keep in touch with you more often.

You have a wonderful day ahead.

Much Love,

Response #22:

You are most welcome – and I have no complaints about your willingness to learn! I'm keeping you and your relative in my prayers. As to the details of this latest email, you are certainly not the only person I have come across who suffers from these and other related issues. In fact, it seems to be much more common than most people realize, even among believers. I venture to say that these sorts of debilitating conditions are much more common today than was true in the past, and I really don't think that is entirely so merely because of more knowledge on the subject. Things are intensifying as we draw ever closer to the Tribulation.

One thing I have often noticed is that the Lord allows all believers who are making progress for Him to carry an ever increasing burden – sharing the sufferings of Christ. Certainly, we all want to enjoy perfect health, have zero financial or job stress and strain, be in perfect relationships, and know no other complications or distress – who wouldn't? And so we all also pray for the alleviation of all the troubles that come our way – and we are right to do so. But we also do have to recognize that suffering is a given for all Christians in this world (1Pet.5:9), and that there is a reason and a purpose for it all. Since that is the case, since, in fact, we are never going to be free of it in these bodies, since it is necessary as part of the spiritual warfare in which we are involved and contributes to our growth in ways we can hardly comprehend (when we cope with it in spiritual ways), it seems best to determine to persevere in our quest to serve the Lord with endurance and good cheer, even in the midst of whatever pressures we have to face. This is not possible for the spiritually immature, but the second phase of fulfilling the plan of God for our lives, the spiritual progress in testing phase, requires that we bear up under these things by definition.

There is some good news here too: the Lord does not place upon us anything we cannot indeed bear up under (1Cor.10:13), so it really is a compliment to us of sorts when these troubles come. After all, if we were not capable of bearing them through having made good spiritual progress, they would not be so intense. Isn't that what we read in the book of Job? So we have to be careful to handle our testing, troubles and trials as Job did at first, not to react to them negatively as he did after being misunderstood by his friends. What the world thinks of our situation is not important (just as what Job's friends thought was not important because they were dead wrong). The only opinion that matters is our Lord's opinion. We are here to please Him only. If it is His good will for us to suffer something, we can endure it in the absolute and certain knowledge that He is indeed "working everything out for the good". This is often hard to see; it is often hard to remember; and it is always hard to apply. But apply that truth we must if we are going to reach that high spiritual plateau the Lord has in mind for us to reach so as to become truly useful to Him in ministering to His Body, His Church.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
2nd Corinthians 2:8-10 NIV

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV

No doubt in many respects the testing and training we are receiving today is harder than in prior generations (although there have been times in history when the burdens endured by the Church have been much heavier than today in general terms if not in individual cases). The reason for this must certainly be the impending Tribulation. The Lord is preparing us for what comes next. How is that not a good thing? It can be a very good thing, if we "get with the program", and "allow patience [in suffering] to do its perfect work [of hardening us]" (Jas.1:4). All these things are easier said than done, but it is important to say them so that they may be done to the glory of the Lord who has called us and for the edification of His Church. The path of suffering leads us to the place where the crowns of glory grow.

(13) These [great believers of the past] all died [while still walking] in faith, though they had not received the [fulfillment of their] promises. But [while they lived] they did catch sight of [these promises] from a distance and salute them, [so to speak], thus making it plain [to all the world] that they were [in effect] strangers and sojourners on the earth. (14) For people who express [their faith] in this way make it quite evident that they are eagerly in search of a homeland [other than the place they now occupy]. (15) Indeed, if these [believers'] hearts had yearned for the [land] from which they had departed, they would have had [ample] opportunity to turn back. (16) But they were zealous for a better place, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has, in fact, prepared a city for them (i.e., the New Jerusalem).
Hebrews 11:13-16

Keep fighting the fight, my friend. It's never easy, but everything eventually comes to an end. When we are rewarded for our steadfastness under pressure on that great day of days, all we have suffered in this life will be as nothing compared to the wonders to come.

For this present light affliction of ours is working out for us an eternal weight of glory beyond any possible estimation.
2nd Corinthians 4:17

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #23:

Shalom Dr. Luginbill!

Please forgive my long silence my dear brother. I was in the process of moving, and am currently still trying to get "settled-in", however, I didn't want you to think that I just skipped out on you, I've just been a little "tied-up." By the way, I just wanted to let you know that I have been making some changes, getting my priorities straightened out, and my relationship with the Lord has really blossomed since we last spoke. Don't get me wrong, I still have my battles, but I personally believe my spiritual life is better now than it has been for quite some time! Anyway, I don't want to take up too much of your time. I just wanted to let you know that I'm still here, still marching on. May the LORD GOD Bless you my dear friend, your a blessing!

Response #23:

Always good to hear from you, my friend. Here's hoping that the move/settle-in continues to progress. I have moved far too many times in my life and can well appreciate the disruptive nature of the event.

Wonderful to hear of your progress! Keep growing up in the truth of the Word of God – therein lies the greatest reward.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

I cry tears of joy and thankfulness for your site, God bless you! May your cup overflow with life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Hallelujah. For division, and parties are of the flesh but God are one. No catholic orthodox or protestant, only Jesus. I pray that all believers will shed the constraints of the flesh and join together as One in Christ, as Christ Himself are One with the Father. In Jesu name.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob reigns!

I tro, hĺp og kjćrlighet

Response #24:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thank you so much for your encouraging words. It is truly a blessing that the true Church of Jesus Christ is "one" in spite of all human efforts to divide it.

In anticipation of that great day of days when all stand together before our dear Lord Jesus.

Bob Luginbill

Question #25:

Hello, Dr.

Does God have favorites? I find myself getting jealous of people like the Apostles because I want God to love me the most. I want to have the greatest of rewards in heaven. I want to love him with my whole heart, soul, and mind.

And could you please pray for me? I want to be bold. I don't ever want to abandon my faith and lose hope. If I did not have Christ, I would not want to exist. I want to have unwavering faith, because I know I should not doubt him, because I know that he keeps all of his promises.

I love him so much. But I'm so weak and timid and always afraid. I no longer want to fear anything, because he is the only being I should fear. And he terrifies me!

I don't want to be distracted by this world. My only hope and joy is knowing that Christ will return someday to wipe every tear from my eyes.

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I hunger for knowledge and understanding of God's word, which is why I believe that it was no coincidence that I found your site. I have been praying for you, and I hope that you will pray for me too

Response #25:

Good to make your acquaintance. I will pray for you – thanks so much for your prayers on my behalf!

There is a balance to be struck by believers between reverence for the Lord and the terror unbelievers fear on account of the rebellion they know they harbor in their hearts, and that is why John tells us that "perfect love casts out fear" (1Jn.4:18) – not reverence, not respect, but mindless fear. Think of the perfect father. We would certainly love that father, we would certainly also respect and revere him – but there would be no reason to be terrified of him precisely because he was "perfect" in every way and would never treat us in an unfair or unloving way. So it is with our heavenly Father, only more so.

I think the deeper answer to the question above is pretty much the same as the answer to all the questions your message contains: spiritual growth. The more we know about the Lord, truly know and believe, the more all such questions resolve for us. As we build our relationship with Jesus Christ through learning and believing and applying the truth of scripture, we cannot help but walk closer with Him even as we appreciate Him and know and understand Him better day by day. So I would encourage you to make spiritual growth your priority in this life: that is the way to a closer relationship with Jesus and also the way to the greatest spiritual rewards (please see the link).

One of the (many) wonderful things about the Christian life is that it is a competition with ourselves, not with our brothers and sisters (whom we are supposed to help). There is no upper limit on the spiritual rewards that we may win, no limit on the closeness we may have with Jesus Christ here in this world, no limit to the things we can accomplish for Him . . . except the ones we impose on ourselves or allow to be imposed on us. The fact that Paul will be highly rewarded is not a limitation on the rewards you or I may win and so receive. But Paul's life and ministry is indeed illustrative of what it takes to be "that close" to Christ. Think of all the suffering he endured (e.g., 1Cor.4:8-13; 2Cor.4:7-12; 6:3-10; 11:16-33; Phil.3:7-11), and think of the wonderful ministry he consistently performed even in the midst of all that suffering. And all of it was based upon having previously achieved the highest level of spiritual maturity through attention to the truth, and having that maturity tempered and tested in many hardships which are only hinted at in scripture. The three crowns and the "best neighborhoods" in New Jerusalem are available to all believers, but few will attain them, and few will achieve for the Lord what Paul or Abraham or Moses or Elijah or John the baptist (etc.) have – not because of lack of opportunity or lack of "grace" or lack of gifts, but because of lacking the same consistent love, effort and determination to put Jesus first that these exceptional individuals manifested so wonderfully during their earthly lives.

So you don't have to be jealous – all you have to be is zealous. You can achieve whatever you are willing to achieve. And spiritual growth, progress and production is indeed the path to spiritual achievement, the good pleasure of our dear Lord, and a fine reward on that wonderful day to come. Reward motivation is not only legitimate but is actually a critically important aspect of the Christian walk (see the link). And God has already decreed your rewards according to what you actually did do in this life in response to our Savior's mandates and encouragement. So it's not a question of a few prizes only handed out to the few; rather, the bounty of God is unlimited – but only those who prove themselves worthy enter into the fullness of that bounty.

There is much to say on this topic. You have a wonderful attitude. Be pleased to act upon it and do not become discouraged by the day to day spiritual fight we are in, and you will surely grow closer to Jesus and His love day by day, and win in the process a marvelous reward which will bless you for all eternity.

Here are a few pertinent links:

Imitating Christ (Pet. #17)

Pursuing a Deeper Relationship with Jesus

The Christian Walk

Walking with Jesus.

Prayer and our Walk with Jesus.

Putting Christ in Christmas: Loving Jesus

In the Name of the One who gave His all for us that we might have life eternal with Him, Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

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