Question #1: My grandson is a freshman at XXX College. He is majoring in Science. And as he shared Sunday on the phone, most around him are atheists. So now he is questioning his belief about God and the Bible. We would like to find information to give him, yet have it more down to his level of understanding and grasping. The Holy Spirit is the one that will reveal the truth to him, if he is open and has a teachable spirit. Do you have any areas that you would recommend. Thank you
Response #1: I think your comment
about your grandson being "open and teachable" is the key thing. It is
true that most academics are atheists in practice if not by profession
(and XXX has a reputation for being more liberal in this respect than
most). I believe this has to do with the predictable pattern of human
arrogance. Once we think we know something, we
automatically tend to think we know everything.
As to specific books, it's hard for me to single out anything in particular, and I am usually reluctant to recommend the works of others on this particular score (since as a non-scientist I'm not really in a position to evaluate the solidity of the work of those who do apologetics in this area). Of my own stuff, I would recommend the Satanic Rebellion series (see especially in part 5: "The Problem of Science and the Bible"). That series has much to say about the true realities behind the world we see, including the physical world – but of course these materials are only available on-line.
On the other hand, virtually any good and true biblical material he devotes his time to will be helpful in supporting and stabilizing his faith. And that I think is the main point. Ultimately, we all have to make our own decisions and decide what we give our attention to and why. College is often a time of testing and shaping, and for believers it has become more often than not a crucible wherein their faith is tested. From what you have shared with me here it seems to me that your grandson most likely has had a good Christian upbringing, and should know what is true and what is not by now. We all learn fairly early on in the Christian life that things are not what they appear to be to the secular world:
By faith we understand that the ages have been constructed by the Word of God, so that what we see (i.e., the material world) has not come into being from the things presently visible.
If that proposition
gets tested by exposure to very smart and polished people who think that
it is rubbish, well, in the end that is the only way for the underlying
steel to be tempered for the twists and turns of life to come. For that
reason, even if I had the perfect book to recommend, I think that an
even better answer would be to suggest to you that your example and your
faith in the face of this opposition will weigh more heavily in the
balance than the opinions of a third party, especially over time.
Clearly, you have a good relationship with your grandson. If he sees you
undeterred in your faith despite the doubts with which he is currently
wrestling, then you become an anchor for him which will, in time if not
immediately, help him to stabilize his own faith, looking to God for all
the answers to his most important questions rather than to the world of
academia. For no matter how intellectual people become (or think they
are), they really don't have all the answers and know that deep inside.
The power of a witness of a life of faith and peace –
especially in the
case of someone who is loved and esteemed –
cannot be underestimated.
I will certainly say a prayer for him. Please don't hesitate to write me back about this if you would like to discuss it further.
In our Lord in whom resides all the treasuries of knowledge forevermore.
Question #2: Are you associated with any protestant or evangelical group and would you call it conservative?
Response #2: If by conservative you mean "Bible-believing", I would certainly say so! My whole purpose in this ministry is to distill as much truth as I am able through the Spirit and make it accessible. My stuff is in the conservative, evangelic tradition, but I would certainly not wish to ascribe my views to anyone else (or anyone else's to mine). My problem with traditional protestantism is that it has largely left the Bible for social theory. My problem with evangelicalism is that it has largely left the Bible for group theater. I find the latter more troubling because of a greater level of prior emotional involvement on my part, and because – since the theater is pretty good and getting better – many if not most in this branch of Christianity don't realize what's going on (it's the frog being boiled slowly phenomenon I suppose). Good on the issue of the abandonment of systematic theology from an inside the movement perspective is David F. Wells work (whose diagnosis I accept, though I am loath to subscribe to his recommended course of therapy of continuing to "leave it to the experts", just giving them their due respect – he is an "expert"):
No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?
(Eerdmans; Grand Rapids: 1993)
God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading
Dreams (Eerdmans; Grand Rapids: 1993)
I think that
evangelicals have their heart in the right place, but somehow it is not
translating in today's Church into deep, consistent, dedicated study of
the Bible, the whole basis of everything we do or should. Scholarship
which rejects the truth of the Bible or which does not look to the Bible
as the only deep source of truth (beyond what we can learn from natural
revelation) is flawed by definition. But de facto rejection by
default of the wonders that lie deep in the scripture through a
near total preoccupation with form, with numbers, with appearances, with
emotional experiences (worked up rather than of deeper, more genuine
origination), through the use, as I would categorize it over all, of
"theater", is a pretty poor bargain in my view. This trend is certainly
in line with what is predicted to occur the closer the end times come,
but not something to celebrate, certainly.
So, as you can probably surmise, I don't get a lot out of going to church. My deeper complaint and angst is that my brothers and sisters in Christ can't get much out of going to church either (because nothing of substance is being taught). That is the genesis of this ministry (and the reason I ended up doing what I do on my day job). For (what will become with some reading) obvious reasons, I am reluctant to validate any particular church by acknowledging my participation, or, alternatively, to stigmatize them by the same. So I try to keep the footprint light when and where I go.
I know this is not the sort answer you probably want, but I hope it will be helpful nonetheless.
In the One whose Church we are, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I came across your
website several days ago while attempting to do a little research
(personal) about God's relationship with man and the impact that Satan
and his demons have on that relationship. Instead, I came across much
more, doubtless that your site is a wealth of information although I
have not been able to get through the whole thing because of time
constraints (you seem to put a lot of emphasis on time, the time we have
here on Earth, which is indeed short). It certainly doesn't seem that
way when you're a child, the days are long and pleasure abounding. As we
grow older though and especially when we get into our 30's, suddenly
time does not creep along anymore, the days and months run together and
5 years goes by like 5 months to a child. My Grandmother used to say
that life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end,
the faster it goes. I believe she is in heaven now (or will be), she was
a staunch Christian women and very obedient to the Lord.
I struggled through my teens and early 20's with an addiction to drugs and although things have improved drastically since then, I still find myself giving in rather easily to temptation and demonic influences. I remember reading somewhere that there are demons responsible for certain duties, duties that bring chaos into the world and into our lives and that these demons have names. Is this true? I grew up in a Lutheran church so as you can probably imagine, not a lot of this was covered in the watered down Sunday sermons; it was a fairly liberal church. Much of what you write concerning man's quest for pleasure and wealth struck home with me not only because I see it in myself but I see it in almost every person I am in contact with. As you well know, there are very few people in my age group (40 or younger) that are true Christians so it's difficult to surround yourself with them, good churches are hard to find and I'm not sure I even know what's good and what's not! Some are obvious but some are not.
I have often wondered what happens when we die, it's a question that I think everyone ponders from time to time. Will there be a waiting area where Christians and non-Christians are held, to be judged by the Lord when the time comes, or do Christians go directly to heaven and the latter to hell. What you said cuts through any Earthly perceptions, accumulated assets, family ties, basically anything physical. We come into the world with nothing and we take nothing with us when we die but the question still stands, will there be demons waiting for non-Christians when they die and angels waiting for Christians? It reminds of the movie 'Ghost.' A totally ludicrous movie except for the fact that when there was a death, there where actually demons waiting to take an evil doer off to hell, so to speak. I recall reading about the death of Stalin (an incredibly evil man who was responsible for the deaths of millions). In his death throes, he is said to have been extremely frightened and had a look of sheer terror on his face, something that the people who surrounded him throughout his rule had never seen. Was there something on the other side waiting for him that he could actually see? Hard to say I guess.
Anyway, it's been a very informative experience reading your site, you are a gifted writer and I would like to show your "Satan's World" page to several people as I think it would be of great benefit. My last question is, I have been born again, but feel as though I have been doing a lot of backsliding since then, what is the best way to turn my life around and walk with the Lord and not the World? It's difficult to exist in these times without falling into demon traps, or is it?
Thank you for your interest and interesting comments. I would say that your observations about life are right on from the Christian perspective. Time does indeed seem to be speeding up the closer we get to the end, personal and corporately. As far as youthful indiscretion and current occasional struggles are concerned, it seems to me that this is by far the most common Christian experience in a culture where opportunity for sin and evil is virtually unbounded. The prodigality of youth (generously defined) certainly is my story and that of many if not most good Christians I know – only the specifics of the story vary from person to person. Seems as if we all have to go through a period of finding out that the siren song of the world is an empty promise, and after we get back on the right road there is sometimes even more resistance than before. That's usually a signal that we are on the right track, especially if we know for a fact that we are not involved in gross sin or other obvious disobedience. The devil definitely opposes our efforts to draw closer to the Lord and to do His will.
As far as names of demons and angels is concerned, there is far less in scripture than we would like to know (see the link: Angelology), and I am reluctant to "go beyond what is written". In terms of how we get to where we are going after death, the only thing I find in scripture is Luke 16:22 where it says that the "angels" carried Lazarus to "Abraham's bosom", i.e., the place of rest occupied by believers before the resurrection, ascension, and session of our Lord. Interestingly in that passage it says that the rich man "died and was buried", but we know from the same story that he too ended up in Hades, only in the part of Hades known as "torments" (or hell) rather than in the place of rest. No word on how he got there. Also no word on how believers get to the third heaven today, although angelic agency is a good bet in both cases based upon what Luke 16:22 does say. After resurrection, like Jesus we will not need this help (based upon the ascension and second advent; cf. also Rev.19:14).
For more about our interim state, about which you ask, please see the following link:
Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
Finding a good church where the Bible is the central focus and is taught in a solid and substantive way is indeed very difficult. I have a number of friends from seminary who, twenty years after the fact now, do not have churches for this very reason, and this ministry is on the internet precisely because there are so very few people who are interesting in finding out about what the scriptures really mean in detail (in a local church setting, this would require at the very least several hours a week devoted strictly to Bible teaching apart from music et al.). But to answer your question, the only way to grow, in my opinion (and I believe in this I also have the Spirit of God), is to set oneself to listen to God's Word (through Bible reading and good Bible teaching), then believe it, apply it to life, and help others do likewise (through personal ministry that promotes the spiritual growth of others based upon one's own true gifts). This is a lengthy process, always challenging and often not particularly "exciting" or "uplifting" in the moment – though the power of it proves true over time. For I have come to understand that the power of the truth in one's heart surpasses any temporary emotional experience on Sunday morning by orders of magnitude which cannot even be explained before the fact.
What you are doing, reaching out to find out more about the Bible in a substantive way, is exactly what you should be doing. You are certainly welcome the materials here at Ichthys, and welcome to ask questions etc. whenever you like. Like any church (even good churches), there is no way this ministry can be everyone's "cup of tea". Especially whenever a ministry attempts to actually explain what the Bible says, there are going to be explanations and interpretations with which those who come into contact with it differ vociferously. But do keep on with your search, and when you find something you know with all your heart and mind is "good to eat", then stick with it through thick and thin. There is no substitute for the milk and the solid food of the Word of the God, but that food has to be "eaten" (i.e., heard and believed) in order to do any good.
Keep on fighting the good fight of faith in Jesus our Lord.
Hi Dr. Luginbill:
Somewhere on your site, you discuss the incident in which Jesus was asked to heal a certain man's son. The man says, "If you can do anything for him...". Jesus seems to gently chastise the man for his lack of faith, and the man says, "I believe. Help my unbelief."
I have always appreciated that man's words, mostly because MY faith is so shaky. Your comments about this story indicate that you think Jesus only went on to heal the man's son because a crowd was gathering and there was no point in saying anything more to him.
Would the Lord not answer such a prayer from someone like me?
Blaise Pascal argued that faith in God was a win/win proposition. He said that those who have faith will be rewarded if God indeed exists, and if God doesn't exist, it doesn't matter much what you believe. That argument doesn't work for me because I may one day face threats to my life because of my faith. It seems that a "Well, I have nothing to lose by believing..." faith would not help much in such a situation.
I read my Bible A LOT (per your suggestion), and my faith only seems to become shakier. When I try to remove all the baggage of the culture in which I have been raised, the things I have been taught to believe, etc., and simply READ the words of the Bible, the doubts come pouring in. Jesus' words in the so-called Sermon on the Mount, for instance, make attaining salvation seem to hinge more upon how I live than what I believe.
How on earth did we get from "Live in fear of God by behaving the way you should." to "Just ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved."?
As always, I look forward to your response.
It's always good to
hear from you. I want to encourage you not to give up. It is very clear
to me that you do have faith. No one, and I mean no one, I have ever had
any contact with or even heard about would continue to seek God and
God's will and God's help as you are doing without faith. The father in
Mark 9:24 was "conflicted" in the small amount of faith he had. As I say
in that response, he "gives us an example, a negative one, of the type
of unnecessary self-torture that people put themselves through, even
when they feel God's call (in matters great and small), when they refuse
to give in to Him entirely and take what He says with complete trust and
act on what He says in complete faith". None of us is perfect in this
respect. Abraham is perhaps the greatest believer of all time precisely
because of the great faith he demonstrated, and even he was not perfect
in that regard (e.g., "operation Hagar"; and cf. Is.43:27). Jesus also
tells us famously that if we but have faith the size of a mustard seed,
that this will suffice. Surely you have that, and more. And faith grows
as we learn more about the mercy, love, grace and goodness of God, as we
learn more about Him from the Bible, as we see His promises fulfilled in
the course of our own lives, and as we experience His deliverances,
forgiveness and blessings. But all this requires decisions on our part
to make a conscious, continual, and deliberate habit of putting things
in His hands and trusting Him in all matters great and small.
Reading the Bible is key to this, but so also is biblical teaching. I learn a lot from reading the Bible. I learn a lot too from putting things together in expositional form. There are many gifts in the Church of Jesus Christ and we are all gifted by the Spirit, but as to this issue everyone of us should either be putting things together for others or learning from the things that others have put together for them. As far as I can tell, you are doing this too. The next step is to put your own gifts to work for Jesus in the manner and place He calls you to do so, for this too produces greater faith and confidence (1Tim.3:13). This, in essence, is the proper Christian life for which there is great and eternal reward: "learning the truth, believing the truth, applying/living the truth, then helping others to do the same". Seeking God is what you are doing, and I have to believe that He will answer to your knocking and give you peace, confidence, and the strength of faith necessary to serve Him as He wants you to do if you but continue to persevere. Yes, I do think that a "help" prayer from you on your behalf is going to be answered since it is asked in faith and in trust. No one really knows the heart of the father in Mark 9:24 and I say at the end of that response that we can only wonder whether he profited from Jesus' miracle and learned to trust God as a result of what his eyes saw in the deliverance of his son. But we can certainly learn from it, for in that miracle the power, goodness, mercy and grace of our Savior is very clear to see. He loves us, more than we can know this side of heaven. He died for us while we were His enemies – what more could He do for us than what He has already in fact done? How will He not therefore give us all things if we but ask in faith (Rom.8:32)? We have to appreciate something of His and His Father's character to understand that He is right here right now loving us with an eternal love and very much wanting us to trust Him and love Him back in response, putting our hope in Him and not in the things of this world of dust, lust and rust. All we have to do is let go and give in to Him. All we have to do is just not say "no!" to Him. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, God and man in one person forever, and that He died on the cross and so wiped away your sins? I know you do, and that means that you do have faith. As long as you believe the truth, then the truth lives in you; and as long as the truth lives in you, you have eternal life. Future bad behavior, "what you may do", can only affect this if by continually undermining faith it comes to the point that the person in question stops believing in Jesus altogether (essentially because they don't want to face up to what they are doing). On the other hand, those who are persons of true faith find that the truth within them will not let them rest after times of turbulence until they are once more moving along the high road to Zion in the way that Jesus would have them to move. That is what I see in you, a desire, a determination, a need to keep seeking God and drawing closer to Him, resolving and putting away the old leaven of the past so as to worship Him in newness of life (Eph.4:22-24; cf. 1Cor.5:7-8). This is mark of faith. No one who worries about their faith could, by definition, possibly fail to have faith.
Don't get discouraged about reading your Bible. It is helping even when the opposite seems true for it is building up a foundation of solid rock in your heart. Strive to put aside for now the things that you can't reconcile at present and then let the scriptures reinforce the things you know to be good and true. Let it ever be a positive and edifying experience. No one can fully live up to the words of the Sermon on the Mount, and that is a critical part of the gospel message which teaches us that we are all sinners in need of mercy, but that said mercy is infinitely available because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary. One of the things that truly helpful Bible teaching should do is to help Christians put individual passages into the entire context of God's entire message for us in just this way. It is true that we fall short. The "good news" is that we have God's righteousness by faith (Rom.4:5; 4:22-24; 9:30), so that by believing in Jesus all of our sins and imperfections are removed as impediments for an eternal life with Him. Therefore, avail yourself of good, solid, orthodox Bible teaching that helps to resolve difficulties of this sort and leads you into a deeper faith and a deeper understanding than can be gained purely from individual reading alone. You are certainly welcome to all the materials at Ichthys in this regard, but also just as certainly encouraged to partake of any such truly orthodox Bible teaching that may speak to you more directly. God has made you thousands of promises in scripture, all of which are summed up in Jesus Christ in whom we have put our faith for eternal life (2Cor.1:20). He is trustworthy and will deliver on all of His promises. Let yourself believe them. He wants to draw you closer to Himself. Let Him do it.
[The one who does what is right in vv.3-4] will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Psalm 24:4-5 NIV
You've been running a
good race. Don't let yourself get tripped up now. God will soon come to
your aid and refresh your heart. He is worthy of your trust and will
lead you where He wants you to go, the place in your heart of hearts you
also want to go, closer to Him in Jesus our Lord day by day.
In Him who demonstrated His so great love for us by dying for us while were yet His enemies, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My family and I do not
go to church per se, but do spend daily time in the Bible. We are not in
an area where we have found much Biblical teaching. One of my relatives
is going to have her first communion in a catholic church in two weeks.
Her mother is endlessly begging, hinting and trying to bribe us into
going. My husband would rather not go, and neither would I as we do not
believe much of any of what the catholic church teaches. However, we
want to be good examples to her, to show her that we support and lover
her. I know that there are Bible verses that say in essence to not even
allow false teachers into your home, and to stay away from false
teaching. His family says they are catholic but enjoy reading things
like stuff from the Dahli Lama, the "gospel of Judas" and the Da Vinci
code. ANYTHING but the Bible. They believe that if a person believes in
"a god" they go to heaven. So far, we have managed to state our beliefs
without causing a family fight. Jesus is more important to us than
family, OF COURSE, but is there a problem with going to a catholic
church for a first communion, would I be doing anything wrong? I just am
not happy either way and I don't know of many Christians to ask for help
in this. I feel if I go, I am compromising my beliefs, but I feel if I
don't go, we could end up upsetting them and losing a chance to be a
good witness for Christ with them. Are there any Bible verses that might
I certainly appreciate
your plight. I think that all true Christians who are definitely
committed to living as Jesus would truly have them to live and who are
equally reluctant and resistant to be offering themselves up to anything
false would share your concerns. I don't want to encourage you to do
anything that would violate your conscience. On the other hand, going to
a family ceremony is essentially giving support to one's family rather
than the institution or individuals who conduct it. A first communion
may be somewhat less important than, say, a wedding (and we have
probably all been to weddings in religious venues where we did not agree
with the doctrines taught) or a funeral, but to my way of thinking it is
somewhat along the same lines. I personally would not want to partake of
R.C. communion myself because I have strong feelings about its false
claims and symbolism (but I don't think they allow non-members to
participate in any case). There is a difference between being
uncomfortable and being wrong. In all such matters, one has to do what
you are doing now, namely, consult scripture and give careful
consideration to one's actions. Just because a person feels bad about
doing something doesn't necessarily make it wrong –
although that is
often a very clear signal that one really ought to take care to examine
the facts before proceeding –
just as it is not necessarily OK to do
something that doesn't bother the conscience as much or at all. We
always have to go with what we know for certain in our head and believe
with confidence in our heart (as opposed to "feelings"). Ideally, there
will be no conflict. Practically speaking, we have to rely on faith. As
Paul says at Romans 14:23, "whatever is not of faith is sin".
So I can't tell you to go or stay home. What I can do is offer some guideposts that may be of help. If you feel that you would be violating your beliefs and compromising your faith by going, then you need to think twice. If, on the other hand, you feel that you can attend in support of your family without serious compromise to your faith and that the positive effects of demonstrating support and love for the future evangelism of your family outweigh your discomfort, then perhaps you should consider going. Since you are very solid in your Christian beliefs, and stand next to no chance of being influenced or persuaded by the falsity of the doctrines upon which much of this ceremony will be based, it doesn't appear to me that you are putting yourself in any personal spiritual danger by attending. And as long as the message is, "I love and support you in spite of your religious choices with which I personally disagree (or in spite of your parents' choices made for you"), your witness would also be unsullied. If you maintain a close relationship with this family member, she will probably understand over time that there is another way to look at all this, and will also come to appreciate that any participation in any R.C. ritual's on your part were on account of love for her and not out of any compromise with that organization – and certainly not a sign of approval. The key question is always, "what is the main issue here?" On the one hand you don't want to send a message to your godchild that you believe in that church; on the other hand you don't want to send a message that you don't care about her or don't love her. One ceremony such as this is unlikely to be a "make or break" incident as far as either side of the equation goes, but I would be examining the issue first and foremost along those lines.
I'm afraid I haven't been much help to you here. I can tell you that in similar situations I find that prayer is ever important and inevitably effective. Sometimes when we very deliberately turn such tough questions over to the Lord instead of insisting on agonizing about them ourselves, He gives us confidence and conviction in short order. As always, once we resolve to "do what is right" no matter what the consequences may be, it quickly becomes apparent what is right, wrong or indifferent, and our true motivations are revealed and unnecessary fears dissolved.
I will definitely say a prayer for you about this.
In our Lord Jesus who loves in spite of everything we get wrong and without whom we'd never get anything right.
I wanted to add a comment if I may to your response of general emails dated 05/27/06 ("Satanic Influence in Video Games and Television."). The one thing that was not mentioned in that email is music; the devil's fingerprints are all over that.
That is certainly true –
music is another area that, while potentially
blessed (cf. the Psalms), can also be very detrimental to a good
spiritual walk. I'm not much on musical theory; I can tell you that the
Greeks divided music up into "modes", each of which was considered to
have differing emotional effects on the listeners. I think there is no
question that music, possibly uniquely of all cultural manifestations,
has the ability to influence and control emotion and thence to influence
thought. When one combines the power of melody and rhythm with rhyming
words and poetic phrases, music can sometimes color what we think and
feel to a far greater degree than most people are probably willing to
admit. One of the things that concerns me about the contemporary church
visible is the pride of place that music has assumed. In many respects,
it seems to have replaced scripture to a large degree, and when a
sentiment is put in a song, especially if it becomes a popular
"Christian" song, it tends to be given deference as if it were
scripture. This would perhaps not be so bad if it were not the case that
the lyrics of "Christian music" at the very least are inevitably
somewhat off-center. Even when addressing biblical truths, such lyrics
almost always do so in a way that mis-state or wrongly emphasizes (or
de-emphasizes) what the Bible really has to say. In an environment where
there is little Bible teaching going on in the first place, the danger
is that many who are involved up to their necks in "Christianity light"
are getting their doctrinal information (viz. dis-information) from
lyrics that were coined by musicians with varying degrees of
spirituality and biblical mastery.
Personally, I tend to steer clear of most music as much as possible, but when everything these days has a sound-track (including elevators and grocery stores), that's pretty hard to do. All the more reason to make it a deliberate and constant practice to keep one's thought's focused on the Lord.
Therefore since you have been resurrected [positionally] with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Think on the things above, and not the things on the earth. For you are already [positionally] dead [to all that], and your [true] life has been hidden away with Christ in God. When Christ - our [true] life - is revealed [at the 2nd Advent], then you too will be revealed in glory (i.e. resurrection).
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever if pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV
In our Lord Jesus,
First, I'm happy
to report that the hurricane didn't cause anywhere near the anticipated
problems. Secondly, I appreciate your responses. The problem I have with
many ministries on the net (such as XXX) is that they simply don't
return emails. I admit that there is a lot to be gloomy about, if you
are not a Christian but Mr. XXX doesn't seem to have found anything to
be happy about in the last 30 years. I almost feel badly for him because
I believe the Lord does want us to be happy, as long as we are with him.
At any rate, the reason I brought XXX up is that much of what he says is
very interesting but as of yet, he refuses to return my emails. To me,
that is a sign that someone is not practicing what they are preaching.
Busy, perhaps but no one is THAT busy! I appreciate you taking an
interest in me and helping me to better understand the Gospel, my point
is, more internet ministries (be it big or small) should take an
interest in the people that read their pages and ask polite questions.
Not to take shots at Mr. XXX but it's not right. IMHO I will say that I
have come across some ministries, such as your own, that take the time
to answer emails and do care about the people who read their websites.
Perhaps Mr. XXX has a policy of not answering emails, if that is the
case, it's his choice.
I have also seen a rise in ministries which warn kids about the dangers of certain (actually most) kinds of mainstream music. Unfortunately, many of the bands that they discuss as being evil are long gone, either broken up, dead or have been out of business for 20+years. One of the main sites that does this mostly discusses bands that I grew up with and even bands that were around before my time. Now, if you are attempting to reach out to teens and warn them about music you had better use bands that are a little more current. Mentioning Led Zeppelin might hold some weight because everyone knows their music but discussing Blue Oyster Cult (a very satanic band from the 70's and 80's) and Twisted Sister (a one hit wonder band from the 80's) is not something modern youth can relate to and it's modern youth that are most influenced by the devils music. I feel like the vast majority of music that comes out today is indeed driven by Satan and his demons but today music sounds much different. There is no longer blatant Satanic messages as there was during the heavy Metal era when bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and ACDC sang openly about the dark side of the spirit world. Even the Beatles put a pictures of Aleister Crowley on their Mystery Tour album and Paul said he admired him. Jimmy Page (Led Zeps guitarist) went much farther, buying Crowleys old demonic mansion on Lock Ness Lake and inscribing "Do what thou wilt, so mete it be" on one more than one of Zeps albums, famous words of Crowley and LaVey, a Satanic *commandment* of sorts. I can get winded sometimes. To the point, today's music does not use the same messages (so kids would never be able to relate to these websites as many of them don't listen to older music) it does however talk openly about sex, drugs and the love of money and many other evil things. If you are going to work with youth you have to be responsible enough to at least speak their language (not literally).
Thanks for your prayers and I am slowly but surely working my way through the Bible. I do feel closer to the Lord as a result, instead of reading history books every night, which are fine but the Bible is special. Don't feel the need to comment on my feelings towards other internet ministries, I know that you don't like commenting on these things and I respect that, you are a better person for it. Just some thoughts I wanted to convey. I would like to know what YOU think is the best way to reach out and work with youth because to me, that is important. If you look at our children today, they are lost, more so perhaps than even the counter-culture generation because they are more violent.
Good to hear from you.
I'm not familiar with this ministry you mention –
there are a zillion of
them out there in cyber-space. I do try to answer e-mails that ask
questions. Sometimes it can be a bit of a load when and if I go through
a period of being swamped, so I leave everyone else out there in the
internet ministry space to answer for themselves. I don't know what this
fellow's traffic is, but there is a limit to the number of e-mails I
could answer in week, what with having a full-time job.
Glad to hear the hurricane thing panned out. Prophetically speaking, there are certainly trends that apply to the current era related in the Bible, but those are exclusively behavioral. One of the problems with focusing on natural disasters is that when things calm down after the fact, one is left to return to what the Bible really has to say (come to think of it, that's the only place to be in the first place).
I am not much on music of any sort. I wasted a good deal of time on it in my youth. Now I find it a distraction to concentration. I also dislike the emotional manipulation that it inevitably entails, even without words. As far as how this relates to working with youth, I am certainly no specialist on this. In my pedestrian view, young people are people. They have consciences too, and as long as their leadership is not setting a bad example by being enthusiastic for music which sets a bad example itself, I am confident that God is capable of working in them to learn to stay away from anything and everything harmful. As with one's own children, given that the world is an ever increasingly spiritually dangerous and evil place, with ever increasing opportunities to go astray, there is really no practical way for a parent (let alone a leader) to even hope to be able to steer a young person completely clear of all the bad influences. The better path is to show by way of example and by way of positive teaching what should be done from a positive standpoint to follow Christ the right way. As Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the lust of the flesh". In other words, while it is true that it is important to have definite boundaries and rules (and scripture is so clear on what the obvious ones are that it doesn't take much convincing or teaching to remind anyone of what the conscience already knows, i.e., that drugs and pre-marital sex and crime are both bad and wrong); what really matters is for any and every Christian to be motivated and dedicated to spiritual growth, getting closer to Jesus through His Word, and beginning to minister to others to help them do the same. Anyone who is truly convinced of the critical importance of this essential way of walking in the world is being led by the Spirit and is thus naturally resistant to everything negative. That doesn't mean we won't stumble, especially when we are young, but it does mean that our compass will be pointing the right way, so that when and if we do get tripped up we will be inclined and will be able to get back up on the high road, dust ourselves off, and head back out toward Zion.
Culture and art of every sort inevitable contains in its essence a bending of the truth, a representation of the world and of reality which is not only not entirely true (since imitation by definition is not the same as the reality it seeks to imitate or comment upon), but also proffers a point of view which must for that very reason be in some sense anti-God (even if only to a very small degree). Now it is impossible to isolate oneself from all cultural influences and paraphernalia altogether – indeed, it is probably a very bad idea to even try to do so. I think it is pretty clear from nearly two thousand years of Church history that every individual (i.e., cenobite monks of various stripes) and group (isolated communities) that has tried has not come a millimeter closer to avoiding "worldliness" by trying to institutionalize or formalize some sort of cultural isolation (indeed, in doing so they have inevitably created some sort of culture on their own). However, as Christians we need to be well aware that all the "noise" in the world has in common the fact that it is not from God, so that the degree to which such "noise" is anti-God is only a question of relativity. Given the fact that it is impossible (and a bad idea) to run off to the mountains to try and avoid it, the first step in a Christian coming to grips with the problem of satanic infiltration into everything secular is to recognize the fact of that infiltration and accept the reality of that fact it without at the same time giving in to it but rather very deliberately prioritizing the Lord and His Word and everything we have been called to do for Him above anything and everything else in life. Once we have this perspective, then step two comes naturally, not a laying down of very specific rules and regulations or legalistic prohibitions that could never hope to be consistent or comprehensive, but a determined policy to limit the attention one pays and the importance one gives to anything and everything that is not from God. Rather than attempting to take ourselves out of the world (the monk approach), we have to learn how to live in the world by taking the world out of ourselves. We have to learn not delight in the things with which we know our Lord is truly displeased, and not to become overly dependent for our happiness upon the very things which are clearly secular and therefore at least to some degree tainted, even if they are not out and out wrong and evil.
This is a general principle of spiritual growth, and not for the immature in Christ. Spiritual growth comes from growing closer to Jesus through the hearing, learning, believing, and application of His truth, not from quitting, say, smoking, drinking, dancing, movies, music, profanity, pornography, etc., etc. Some or all of these things may be included on any given believer's list of activities to avoid partially or totally (some clearly should be, e.g., pornography; some are more judgment calls), but it is not the giving up of secular activities that is the key. Rather it is the growing love and obedience that one has for Jesus that leads almost peripherally to dropping things that are felt to be hindering the relationship that has become the most important thing in one's life. For example, if a person who is a smoker falls in love with another person who is a non-smoker, we wouldn't be surprised to learn that this person kicked the habit – we would understand that now the new relationship is more important to him/her than this old habit. That is a very natural process and one that is at work in our relationship with Jesus as well. And if this love and motivation is not there, then forcing or pressuring people to give things up, especially if they are not clearly and grossly sinful, is getting the cart before the horse entirely, and can lead to resentment and rebellion, precisely the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. So to get back to the question of youth, I am of the opinion that feeding the natural hunger they have for the Word of God is the key to everything, just as it is for older adults. I would even go so far as to say that it is not just the most important thing; it is the only thing. Once we have committed to following Jesus, we need the spiritual food that causes us to grow. And as long as we are growing, everything else will take care of itself. The Bible has plenty to say about sin and sanctification and holy living. If one merely teaches a New Testament epistle, virtually any New Testament epistle, anyone listening with an open heart who is on the road to growth will be convicted of his/her failings. What is really problematic is getting on the road to growth in the first place, and finding the source of spiritual food that will make such growth possible.
Keep up your good work!
In our Lord Jesus