The dust has settled down. This time which has not been good is coming to an end. I can see now how in the last few months new tests have come and exposed weaknesses which previously were not brought to the fore. [details omitted]
The way my friend has been treated has also laid heavily on my heart. I know this is devil's world, but to see a close person humiliated and mistreated as it has been the case here is always difficult. His situation has improved now and in fact he has just responded positively to my message in which I included 1 Corinthians 10:13, a verse which he said he believed to be true. His heart is still not fully open, but should this change and should he come to the faith, all these other issues will be completely meaningless. He acknowledged that all these self-help books he read never helped him fully overcome all the difficult problems he carries in him. Everything points to the truth, but it always is a matter of choice. We will see.
Also, despite the boss being a very humble, kind-hearted and honest person, the organisation itself is the same as any earthly organisation - corrupt. On the one hand I didn't think my expectations were unrealistic, on the other dealing with all these people hardened against the truth, some of whom simply set their hearts on doing evil, lie and attack with craft is a test. Even in earthly matters, where divine truth is not at the heart, one can still be honest and dishonest, one can decide for what one knows is true or choose political correctness in which truth is always lost. Most people, here also, choose the latter and I have been growing more and more isolated. And the hardship lies in all these things occupying one's thoughts.
There have been other things, but they all amount to this - reading the scripture, believing it and living according to it needs to be put above all else in every hour of every day. The word of God has to come first and it has been a cure which restored order. What I have also learnt is how there always seems to be some love for this world left deep in one's heart. Our Lord said that we must hate our lives here and with this perspective everything changes.
I know that difficult times lie ahead and new tests await tomorrow, but this chapter has finally come to an end. It took way too long and the time is short now. Thank you for all your prayers, looking back at all that happened things are clear. And now, having finally stood up, I will have to fight the spiritual battle, every hour.
14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
In our Lord - perfect in all these things,
Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm happy to hear that the recent troubles are abating, although sorry to hear that your friend's situation is still problematic. Yes, the world is a terrible place, from the Christian perspective – and that is true whether things are presently going well for us personally or not. So we rejoice in all the good things God does for us, and we have faith and hope that He will lead us through whatever troubles we are given to face in this life, knowing that He is working everything out together for our absolute good, if we truly do love Him. Jesus is the reason why we are here. The better we can remember that and keep it constantly in mind the happier we shall be, not because of the things of this life but even in spite of them.
It's always a pleasure to see you negotiate these trials and tests successfully, even now that they are becoming somewhat more subtle. You do seem to me to be a bit too hard on yourself. It's good to keep ourselves to the highest standard, but not particularly profitable to be down on ourselves after the fact as that can only lead to casting at least a half-glance backward when the real fight is always in front of us. Nevertheless, you are a wonderful witness to the power of the truth of God's Word, and your faithfulness to it and our dear Lord Jesus is a constant encouragement to me.
Here are some links which you might find encouraging:
Mutual Encouragement in Christ II
In Need of Guidance and Encouragement.
All about Ichthys: Mutual encouragement in the Lord
Mutual Encouragement in Christ.
Christian Trials and Testing
On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.
Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.
Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.
In need of encouragement.
Waiting on God.
Apologies for only being about half way your list questions. Many things going on here at present. I would blame myself but I fear it would contradict what I just said to you!
Hoping for all things good you, my friend, and praying for them too.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I have been writing to you with all that has been going on in the last months, as I have found myself in this new test. There are times when we have to spiritually finally leave certain things behind and I feel that time has come for me. Enough damage has now been done - and only because I allowed it. Time has been wasted.
It is not as it used to be - when I was living far away from the worldly things with which I have now been flooded, studying in relative peace, even if in poverty. But my task here hasn't changed. It is sometimes difficult to leave something behind. But it was the right thing to do. I know I still have to be in the world, but time is ripe, and has been for a while, to die to these things and not allocate them any more time and space than is absolutely necessary. Yes, there has been progress since this terrible time in the summer, but it's all not enough, I know it.
I wanted to ask you for prayer. I want to start again and, under these new circumstances, live every hour for the Lord. Sometimes some things have to be cut off for us to move forward (Matthew 5:29-30).
In our Lord,
Be encouraged, my friend. Your reward is great in heaven. You serve Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He loves you and will recompense you for everything you are suffering through. Times change, circumstances change, the outward things are all temporary and fail to hold their shape. But whatever suffering we have to undergo to get through this world, doing what our Lord would have us to do is working out for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all (2Cor.4:17 NIV). I am continuing to pray for you. We knew when we embarked on this road that there would be tribulations. But the evil one attacks in all manner of subtle ways so that the trouble we expect is often manifested in ways we wouldn't have anticipated. It's important for us to "stay the same" on the inside, even as we have to adapt our tactics day by day to the kaleidoscopic challenges we are facing on the outside. Our Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8), and we must strive to be of the same resolve inside to grow closer to Him and walk closer to Him day by day. This is what you are in fact doing, and you have reason to feel good about it, even if the world is scratching at you. On that great day we will rejoice as one, even as we are all one in Christ even now. Take time out to rejoice in Christ today, and to know His peace. Everything behind us is fixed and done with. Everything before us is wonderful beyond estimation. I have confidence that our Lord will not forget the good things we have done, even as He forgives everything else. So we can justly enjoy the progress we make this day, as long as it is called today, whether that progress be small or great, whether we have to push forward slowly against the storm or are enjoying fair weather.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NKJV
Keeping you in my prayers to the Lord day by day, my dear friend.
In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,
Thanks for the email.
I am in SA but am flying back to Canada before Christmas.
Really having a battle spiritually at the moment. God feels so far away. I know that He is near and it is I that have probably moved away but life is even harder when one feels like this.
Thank you for your prayers.
I'm happy to hear back from you, though sad to learn that things are troubling you at present. I know that you are coping with a great deal, and I have been praying for your spiritual strength. It's often hard under pressure to remember that the Lord is in command of everything and that we are merely entering into the work He has for us one day at a time. And we all have our ups and downs. Here's wishing, hoping and praying that this battle is short, sweet and highly successful, bringing the Lord's deliverance in every way.
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 20:5 NASB
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hi Dr. Luginbill,
Thank you so much for letting me know - a while ago! I actually read it as soon as you posted it, before Christmas. I should read it again, soon. Tonight, I am reading "Imitating Christ: Peter's Epistles #17." As always, the Holy Spirit lead me to the Bible teaching I need to hear right now.
How have you been? How is your family? I hope the holidays were relaxing for you! I have been concentrating on prayers for your ministry and family, Curtis Omo's ministry and family, as well as [others on the prayer list]. I hope they are doing OK. Do you know of anyone else that needs extra attention when I pray?
I am still working on my questions for you. I have SO many - I am trying to prioritize what I need to ask first. Some of them are about my Walk with Christ, some come from my Bible reading, and some are about the Hebrew language and how it is used in God's Word. I have a lot of questions about Adam and Eve, but I am trying to make sure you haven't already answered them on Ichthys.
Also, the Holy Spirit is starting to lead me into ministry and making major changes in my life. It's exciting when I don't let anxiety and worry claw at my heart. I am trying to keep up with Him, as always, but never do enough.
Very good to hear from you again, my friend! I have been wondering about you and have been keeping you in my prayers day by day. I'm happy to hear that you are persevering in you personal spiritual growth and application in wonderful ways, and also that you are beginning to minister – to this we have all been called according to our various gifts.
Thanks much for your prayers! My 95 year old mom is doing pretty well at the moment, as is the rest of my family. Haven't heard from Curt for a bit, but his online ministry seems to be growing apace (he is trying to figure out a search function for the audio files). [One friend] seems to still be experiencing hard times (I only hear from him occasionally); [The other] recently got some very encouraging news and a reprieve from the disaster that was hanging over him and his family; I'm hoping and praying that it will be a complete deliverance and that right soon. If you would like to add [another friend] and his family to your list, that would be great. He is in better touch with [ ] than I am, but he has been having a hard time of late as well, both with his job and other issues he has.
I know the feeling of "not doing enough"; we have to keep a proper balance of not getting too comfortable on the one hand and of not being too hard on ourselves on the other. The right level of pressure is where we are actually generating the best sustainable level of output.
Please do feel free to write with your questions any time, my friend.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr. Luginbill!
I hope you had a great summer! How has everything been with you? I am sure you are getting geared up for another the fall semester.
Thank you for sending me an update, back in June, on your new addition to the Bible Basics Series: Eschatology 2B. I am on your site nearly every day and I took a look when you posted it. It is a really handy overview of everything in the Coming Tribulation series, which I have read. I know it will be very helpful to me. Since we are so close to the Tribulation I come back to that series often on Ichthys. Right now I am on Lesson 48 in Curt's study on the book of Daniel and I have your part 3B: The Antichrist and his Kingdom pulled up on my browser too to cross reference. I am really trying to understand the book of Daniel, especially all of the symbolism. As for the New Testament, the Holy Spirit has lead me to start Curt's study on the Book of Romans and I am about to start the 6th lesson. In my daily Bible reading I just finished 1 and 2 Kings and have now moved into 1 Chronicles. Daniel, Romans and Chronicles are about all I can handle right now without burning out my brain.
I also want to apologize again, for not writing you back sooner. I just came back from summer leave a few weeks ago, frustrated I hadn’t sent an email back to you yet. I had more free time on my hands than ever, but it seemed like I was busier than ever, too. I stopped and started my email response back to you a few times, but the thoughts and words I wanted to say never came together. One of the main reasons why it has been so difficult for me to write back this spring and summer is a lack of energy and focus due to some physical challenges I will get around to telling you about in another email, but, really, that is not a good excuse.
Thank you for responding to me so quickly, always. Your feedback about the role art and creativity can play in the life of a Christian was very helpful and supportive. I am definitely saving these wise words of yours in particular:
"On the question of art and creativity, it seems to me that you have the basic principles well in hand. A world without art is impossible; but art is not the truth. Then again, nothing is the truth besides the truth. There is art and creativity in just about everything we do; believers need to understand as you do that the particulars of this life and how we live it are of vastly less importance than the real reason we are here and how we respond to the Lord. That is to say, a person can write a piece of music without that being sinful; idolizing the process or the result, or letting either take control of one's life and priorities is another story. There is also the issue of content. No art can be perfect from a spiritual point of view; but lack of perfection is not the same thing as outright anti-truth."
I know I will need to come back to your email and re-read it often. Since I last wrote to you, the Holy Spirit has given me solid encouragement to be hopeful that God will use my artistic talent somehow. As my ministry comes into focus, I think He is going to use my creativity and art-making to support my efforts in evangelizing, but I am not quite sure how. The Holy Spirit has guided me to make a lot of changes in my life recently and He has been preparing me to take a big leap of faith soon. I think it will a career change and moving to a different city. I am hopeful that He will lead me into a situation where I get to be creative in some way, but if He doesn’t I will not be disappointed. God is The Creator and His creativity is boundless, so I am extremely excited to see how He works out this aspect of my life.
Also, thank you so much for your response to my story of how God guided me to give up a career as an author and my plans to write a novel. Without getting into too much detail now, I can say, I am not regretting that decision at all. I know you mentioned that our mutual friend was coming up to a similar place in his walk with Christ and if he ever needs some encouragement you are welcome to give him my email address.
Since I made that decision two summers ago, and even since I last wrote to you, the Holy Spirit has lead me to an even deeper relationship with Christ and has tested my faith in more ways. The Holy Spirit has guided me to give up even more of my plans and control of my life to Him, and the changes He is making in my life are such a blessing. God has given me so much to work on for Him and my ministry and it fills up all of the time I would have spent pursing that career and writing the novel. Looking back at that summer, I was filled with so much doubt and anxiety over who God was creating me to be. I feel like a completely different person today and, ironically, I feel like I am more "myself" than I would have been if I were still in control. I have a greater appreciation for the meaning of Psalm 37:4: "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." I thought I knew my own heart and I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do in life, but, of course, God knows my heart better than me. Every day I grow closer to Him completely affirms my choice to abandon the plans I was clinging to. Even though the details are being revealed to me little by little, having an actual mission/ministry given to me by God and being able to serve Him is so exciting and fulfilling – it completely blows away any kind of satisfaction I would have had writing a book. Curt said this in his 2nd lesson of intermediate Bible training:
"Out of God’s mercy and goodness He gives us this gift to use for HIS GLORY. There is no excuse for a Christian not to have a dynamic and abundant life that glorifies God in ways unimaginable. God is too great and His resources are too abundant for a believer to miss out."
Curt put into words what the Holy Spirit has lead me to understand about my choice to work for God instead of myself. Any art I could have or would have created is dust compared to the Art (with a capital "A") God is creating with my life.
In addition to all of your writings about personal ministry and the emails you answer on this subject, this specific lesson on Bible Academy Online was very motivating and key in helping me to understand how important our ministries are to God. I am around so much unbelief and "lukewarm-ness" in my life I need constant reminding and encouragement just to keep my head above water when it comes to my spiritual growth. I am just so thankful I had the mustard seed of faith to follow Him when He called me to my ministry. I am always thankful for your Bible teaching on Ichthys and Curt’s Bible teaching at Bible Academy Online. I would have never been able to grow to the point of being able to take that leap of faith if I did not have such knowledgeable Bible teachers dedicated to their ministries.
And thank you so much for adding my ministry to the Ichthys prayer list. I know God is answering everyone's prayers in my life. Besides working out some physical/health related problems for me, the Holy Spirit has lead me to get much more devoted and detailed in my Bible studies. Before I was reading your studies and listening to Curt's studies, but not giving myself much time to "digest" and assimilate what I am learning. Now I am taking more detailed notes and working everything that I learn into what I know God is leading me to do through my ministry of evangelism. I have been reading your studies and email responses, listening to Curt's studies and reading God’s Word for past few years, soaking up all of the truth, but I wish I had been more detailed about my studies from the beginning. At the beginning I didn’t know what to focus on when taking notes, but now I do (I hope!).
Every day, it seems, the Spirit brings my ministry into greater focus and He is definitely helping me grow closer to Christ through the time spent in His Word, but I let so many unimportant things in my life get in the way of the time I spend studying. Anxiety and worry, especially, are big stumbling blocks for me. The Holy Spirit wants me to get up very early and spend time in God’s Word for a couple of hours before I start my day. This does not always happen because I give into my anxiety at night, distractions and weaknesses. I try to do too much in the evening and don’t go to bed at the right time. I was actually getting up earlier over the summer and now that I am back at work it has been more of a struggle to adjust to a different schedule.
I need to be better about corresponding with you too, because I have many questions and understanding to work out for my spiritual growth and for my ministry. I have a lot of ideas on how to evangelize, how to approach the hardness of heart and unbelief I am encountering in people, but knowing God’s truth, walking in that truth and living the way Christ wants me to live as well as being able to explain truth to others is the only way I am going to be able to battle the lies so many people believe about my God and my Savior. I think battling all of that un-truth is key to evangelizing and getting people to the point where their hearts are ready to hear and believe the Gospel.
Dr. Luginbill, because you are so knowledgeable in God’s Word and also because you teach for a living, would you be willing to give me some feedback about my notes and study habits? I have attached a couple of pages of notes to this email. You don't have to read them in detail. One set is from Curt’s first lesson in the book of Romans and the other I took while reading 1 and 2 Kings for the first time. I now take detailed notes when I listen to Curt’s studies, that way I can go back and find information without having to search through the .mov file again. When it comes to studying the Bible, I retype the important information from the introduction to each book in my NIV study bible (the one you recommend) and then summarize it. Then as I read each book, I write down anything that seems important to me and highlight questions I have or verses/parts I need clarification on, as well as my thoughts on what I am reading. I have been focusing a lot more on French this past year, but have now started back up with my studies in Biblical Hebrew and, hopefully, will be able to read my Tanakh on a daily basis too. Right now, I just want to see if you have any advice or input on how I am approaching studying God’s Word. It takes me a lot longer to get through a lesson from Ichthys, Bible Academy Online or a book in the Bible, but once I have these notes down I think they will be helpful when I start to pull resources together and organize my approach to evangelizing.
Also, thank you SO MUCH for putting my cousin on the prayer list. I can’t say that things have improved for him, but I don’t think they are getting worse, which is good. I have not been very consistent about praying these last few weeks, but am determined to get back into better habits. Are there specific prayers I can say for you and your family? And is there anyone on the Ichthys prayer list that need extra prayers?
I can feel it: life is accelerating for all of us towards the end and every moment I spend in God’s Word and prayer counts! Thank you again for reading an extremely long email from me. Maybe, if I wrote back more often, the emails wouldn’t be so long!
In Christ’s love,
It's wonderful to hear from you! Thank you so much for this encouraging and informative email. I'm very happy to hear about your spiritual progress. I think your approach to things is excellent, and it should stand you in very good stead for ministry in the future. I'm also very happy to hear that in terms of creative talents you are not "throwing the baby out with the bath-water". I don't pretend to have a clue how the Lord plans to have you use these wonderful gifts He has given you, but I am very relieved to hear that you are also looking at this in a prudent and godly way.
I thank you so much for your prayers! I am hanging in there with my modest health issues, and my mother, who had a very rough summer, is doing some better (though she's not that happy with her situation, from what I can tell). God is good. He works it all out for the good . . . for those who love Him (Rom.8:28).
As to your notes, let me say that I am very impressed. I think that if you continue to adopt this method with all of your studies of scripture, you'll be an expert in no time at all (you seem to be well on the road to that already!). Your notes are very well-organized and substantive. They're far better the ones I used to take when listening to tapes by my old pastor and mentor Col. Thieme, so I don't think I have much to teach you on this score. I did notice a questions you had highlighted. Why our Lord chose Paul to be the 12th apostle is something I don't believe can be answered apart from the fact that God knows the hearts of us all better than we know ourselves. Paul was chosen to be what he became because that was what he wanted in his heart of hearts and that was what he was willing to be as well. Since he was willing to dedicate himself to the Lord beyond perhaps any other human being, he was given that unique opportunity – and the proof is in the pudding in what he accomplished and in what he suffered (1Cor.4:8-13; 2Cor.4:7-12; 6:3-10; 11:16-33; Phil.3:7-11).
Our friend writes that he would be most happy to correspond with you. One interesting thing I noticed from both of your recent emails is the growing realization of the power of the Spirit as elucidated from brother Curt's teachings at Bible Academy.
Thanks again for all of your good words and prayers! Please do feel free to write any time. It's always a pleasure to hear from you.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Your continuous prayer at this time will be much appreciated. I wrote to you a number of times now how very disappointed I am about allowing all that has been going on draw me away from God. I knew what I had to do, but I didn't do it. Yes, this has been a new battleground, but not one which I didn't know how to navigate - indeed I knew and failed.
I want to commit my heart fully to the Lord and am putting effort to come back to our Lord and be as productive for Him as I can, but this come back is also suffering through me being far from where I should be. Cracks reappeared in my armor which have not been there for a long time and through these cracks I have made myself subject to old failings.
When one loses a battle which hasn't been lost for a year or one which hasn't been lost for more than 2 years, when one comes back like a dog to its vomit having stayed away from this vomit for a long time, it is hard to deal with the disappointment. One may consider himself immune to weaknesses which have been overcome, one may think that old foes are now defeated, but with spiritual decline they come back and strike. By straying away from the Lord one allows the evil one to attack.
I feel genuine sadness that after some difficult trials I have allowed trivial worldly problems to draw me so far from the Lord and now ended up in old battlefields and, what's even worse, losing some battles. To use a parallel close to you heart - it is debilitating when an army which is picking itself up suffers a completely unexpected defeat when it was seemingly already picking itself up. And, to you use a parallel close to mine - when a team or athlete which seems to be regaining momentum loses it through slackness.
It is time to come back to full commitment and vigilance, the damage has been great and defeats registered for the first time literally in years hurt a lot, but I know that I need to keep pushing forward in the Lord.
I'm sorry for this long series of depressing messages, I can hardly believe how I let myself get drawn so far from our Lord Jesus. I'm disappointed and still in a state of shock. New start has to take place now and that's why I ask you for prayer. Your spiritual leadership and teaching has brought me to faith and you have guided me on my path and overseen my growth, you know the test I have been through since I have come to the faith and you are a true friend in Christ. This is why I ask you for this prayer. There is no need for everyone, even our brothers and sisters in faith, to know about all the hardships and defeats we experience, but you know mine, because I am your child in faith and I owe you my very self.
Some trials have been completely new, some have lasted for a long time, some have hit me in my weak spots, but now I've only got myself to blame. It is not the loss of someone dear, not an illness befalling me unexpectedly and making me weak, not poverty and increasing debt without prospects for things to change - it's my own failings, my own entanglement in empty things, my own detestable lukewarmness, my own lack of spiritual vigilance, my own failure to put truth above all else which have resulted in this horrible time and defeats.
In our Lord,
Please be encouraged, my friend. Remember how much the Lord has accomplished with you and through you, and in how short a time. Turn your back on past failure, even if it is recent. The past is the past, long or short time ago. We can't change what we have done. But we can change what we are doing right now and will be doing in the future. Runners need to be looking straight ahead, intent on the goal, if they want to gain the victory. That is how we run to win. Not by looking back, or down or side to side. If you have stumbled, there is only one thing for it: get back up and start running again. Instead of being disappointed with yourself for being tripped up, rejoice in the Lord that He has given you the means and the motivation to get back on the course and begin to make progress again.
It's not about us. It's about Jesus Christ and His Church. Therefore we can't afford to let our egos get involved in this in any way. For those who are little tempted to take credit for things going well, the opposite temptation of getting overly fixated on what WE have done in stumbling can be equally debilitating. Succinctly put, it doesn't matter. There are others in the Body counting on us – and the Lord expects us to make good on the commitments we have undertaken. If we have let down, let ourselves down, let others down, well, that happens from time to time, sinners and human beings that we are. What we shouldn't let happen, what we can't afford to let happen, is to allow some failure to pin us down in an unhealthy inertia whereby it all just gets worse and worse. As I've said before, we have to develop short memories about the past, except for what the Lord has done for us. This doesn't mean passing on the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, but it does mean not allowing any sort of neurotic fixation on our past errors so that a bad performance yesterday keeps us from a good one today. In all this I also think I "have the Spirit of God":
(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Even Paul made mistakes. And for sure David did. But believers who really want to please the Lord and to pull their weight in this fight we fight don't allow past failures to negatively affect future outcomes. I think everyone knows intellectually that this it is mistake to let that happen. The problem lies in our emotions. We have built a good relationship with the Lord, and we are happy in Him as we plow forward. Falling down throws us emotionally off-balance and then the evil one in alliance with our sin nature and the guilt it happily stokes can much more easily attack our sense of self-worth, ego, and pride, and turn things inside out. But just as we cannot afford to take the attacks of the evil one personally when we are doing what is right, so we also can't afford to think that our actions are so terribly important in the Plan of God that we overreact and take ourselves out of the fight as if it all depended on us. It all depends on the Lord.
I write you this my friend knowing that you are going to pull yourself back together in a good and righteous way and begin the process, however slow it needs to be, of regaining your spiritual momentum. When we lose that momentum, there is only one way to get it back: the painstaking day by day, moment by moment rest and walk with the Lord that got us where we were before we fell down in the first place.
Of David. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, my soul.
Psalm 103:1-22 NIV
Please read the psalm above – really read it slowly, and let it sink in. Then read it again, and consider that these words, these promises, these assurances are for you – and for all of us who love Christ's appearance. Believe these words; for they are true; they are the words of God given by the Spirit for your comfort and encouragement in the Lord who made us and who then came into the world to save us and purchase us for Himself at a cost beyond our understanding.
The Lord has great things in store for you, my friend. Of that I am certain. None of us are worthy. But we are all responsible to Jesus Christ for doing what He has for us to do.
"Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee."
1st Chronicles 22:16 KJV
Your fellow worker in the vineyard of the dear Lord who bought us with His blood, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your wishes, they mean a lot. As you know, this has been a testing few months and through all that I experienced I feel deep in my heart that I will need to distance myself from worldly commitments. This separation has to happen in the heart first and it has been a daily battle to redirect the thoughts to things eternal amidst all that went on.
There has been progress here and I believe that such separation will have to be implemented in the visible realm now also, even if at this time I don't know how exactly this should happen. I hope and pray that in the coming months this will become clear. God has miraculously made all the provisions for me, but with worldly accomplishments trials inevitably come also and from not having sustenance, but having ample time to study, I have found myself professionally doing much better, but being attacked by weeds every hour and having to cut through them in order to do what really matters. Through all this I know that my path lies in between the two, where there is enough provisions to live independently and yet spiritual production is not hindered by putting oneself in the middle of the turmoil, as I have done in my naivety.
Christmas here with my family is always a peculiar time when normal study routine is unsustainable and spiritual conversations are few and far between. It is a break before starting things anew in a few days. I have been however encouraged by meeting one person who turned out to hold the word of God in very high regard. Your prayer for him would be much appreciated. As we were speaking in the car, it turned out he is an open-hearted person who studies the scriptures. Both me and him have no doubt that this meeting was no accident. It only increased my desire to write at least some resources for him, even though I'm not sure if it be my role.
One thing is for sure - since your ministry changed my life these few years ago, things have been changing dramatically and there is a growing conviction in my heart that maybe in not so distant a future I will be able, God guiding me, to put things into such an order, that not only progress will continue and increase, but production will commence also. I also think that the worst period - a period of being flooded with earthly matters - is behind me, that the day by day battle to put these things back to where they belong has not been unfruitful and I have no doubt that your prayers have played a big part in this. I may be wrong, but I feel on the cusp of a new chapter.
You are in my prayers every day, that our God may give you with all the spiritual and material provisions you need. To have a teacher and a friend in you has been the most wonderful and life-changing blessing for me.
Your student in the word,
I will most certainly add your friend to my prayer list. I rejoice in all the good things that the Lord is doing in your life. It comes as no great surprise because of the obvious love and dedication you have for Him. There is nothing more important in this life. You are one of the few people I have ever met who really "gets" that, and the spiritual dividends are very clear.
I always counsel believers to maintain an even keel in these things, though it is clear that you are capable of a higher cruising speed than most. I'll also continue to keep you in prayer for guidance and an unmistakable opening for the next step forward.
I greatly appreciate your prayers, and your friendship, my friend. They have both been wonderfully helpful to me as well, more than you probably know.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I'm returning to the UK on Monday to resume my normal study rhythm. My time at home is a time of testing and testifying rather than growing, sadly. Nevertheless, I have had a few meaningful conversations here during the Christmas period and it seems there are a few people with open hearts who could be interested in learning the truth. There have been more such conversations this time than before and it serves as a great motivation to study in order to be able to start ministering as soon as it is possible. I know I've got a long way to go, but now it is clearer to see the cost of every wasted opportunity, of every wasted day - there are people who have not even got access to a good bible teaching.
As for other things - all that happened in the past half a year has been a clear signal to draw away from the world. All the worldly hopes have failed and now there is another failure to deal with. [details omitted]
And yet I'm angry with how I haven't prepared myself and how the evil one uses every single opportunity to attack, to occupy the thoughts with things that eventually don't matter - I've been getting over this nearly a fortnight now and I will need some more time. All that went on in the past half a year has been a test and it took effort in the application of the truth to focus on the word of God amidst all the worldly problems. And now, when finally this trial has been finished, I have put myself in trouble again. I haven't done anything evil in and of itself, I think many people may not have even considered what I said inelegant and out of place, and yet I know I could have and should have done better. There are failures about which not even our close ones will know and there are also those which are spectacular and this certainly qualifies as the latter - do I not realise that I live in Satan's world?
It is clear that all that has happened has happened for me to clearly see that although we need to live in the world, we also need to keep ourselves unstained by the world and live in separation from it. And whenever a situation arises like the one I described to you above, one has to be so very careful and it is perhaps best and safest to assume that one is going to be attacked - and anticipate where the next hit can come from, rather than turning up in naivety, as I have done. I will do my best to progress as much as possible, but I'm really looking forward to finally putting all these worldly matters to rest in my heart and to finding a calmer place to live too.
In our Lord,
There is no need for you to beat yourself up about being unprepared for a question that never should have been asked. As you clearly see, money is no issue to the Lord in any case. You understand that and didn't give the impression that things were otherwise, so you need not feel bad in a spiritual sense (and I can see in your text that you understand this as well). These sorts of things have a tendency to throw us off our stride. Whenever we get embarrassed about something that we feel is significant, it tends to take on an importance out of all proportion to the reality. The devil knows this as well, so that this is one of many tactics in his arsenal for tripping up those who are truly walking with Christ.
So I would encourage you to "forget it and move on" (Phil.3:13) – even if that is easier said than done. I occasionally catch myself looking back and, believe me, I have plenty of worse things to be embarrassed about. But if we let ourselves dwell on these things, we are likely going to be putting ourselves out of action for as long as we do so and to no good purpose.
One thing to guard against in situations like this is overreaction. It may be that this incident is pointing toward withdrawal (could be); it may be, however, that it demonstrates how a person in the limelight to a certain degree might be able to reach many for the Lord once a good strategy is developed (maybe); or it could be just a blip and something that is not meant to be determinative of anything (in my life most things have fallen into this third category).
In any case, while this is a reminder about our Lord's counsel to be innocent as doves (as you were – which is why you got "caught out" being honest and forthcoming) but also wise as serpents (so as to realize that someone like this is not your friend nor can he be counted on to be decent and fair). But you can and, I believe, should feel good about the circumstances of this event even so. After all, you have actually accomplished a lot in your secular profession; and you have certainly accomplished quite a lot in your spiritual growth and progress, setting you up for a very bountiful life of production for the Lord. No doubt the evil one is well aware of this, and that has something to do with all this as well. We usually don't feel that getting shelled by the enemy is a compliment – but it is. Job didn't realize that; but blessedly we have the book a Job a good deal more in the Bible on spiritual warfare to be able to put all this into the correct and godly perspective.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your prompt reply, encouragement and insight. I wanted to write back straight away (and these things have been on my mind constantly), but shortly after receiving your message I flew back to the UK and started work the next day.
But there is a purpose in this. A couple of years ago, during the period when it was difficult for me to sustain myself, I had a small accident. I was reversing quickly from my driveway rushing to a training session and hit a bus. I lived on a very quiet street and the chance that I should coincide with a bus was just so small. Yet not only did that happen, but I also failed to hit the break early enough, despite attempting it three times. Until today I have no explanation for this, it had not happened to me before nor has it happened since. I believe God gave me the ability to keep composure in situations such as this, but on that occasion, when it was needed badly, I seem to have been deprived of it. It was hard not to ask - why God? I was devoting my life to the study of the scripture, I was in fact listening to one of Paul's epistles on my phone as I was driving out, I was also poor, hardly able to pay my bills despite having a lot to offer in professional terms (before God delivered me a year and a half ago, my debt was steadily increasing) and it all seem clearly difficult enough to me as it was without any additional burdens. And yet God didn't prevent this unlikely coincidence and didn't in that key moment didn't help me stay calm. This contributed to the trial becoming more difficult, as not being able to pay for the basic needs I now had to pay for the damages too. When I look back now, I think that was the purpose - for God to show me that I need to trust Him even in those circumstances and that He is capable of delivering me from this deep pit even though I cannot climb out of it myself. In fact, when the deliverance came, the material problems which have been present for years have ceased almost instantly, as God showed me He can turn things around in an instant and make the previous difficulty look insignificant compared with the blessing He gives.
I believe the parallel is that often during a certain trial, when to us things look bad enough as they are, God, who knows better what we can take, allows some things to happen, which increase the burden and may even include some temporary removal of God's protection in certain situations. Here also, God could have prevented this rude question from being asked. He could have also granted me a greater clarity of mind, so that I could respond in wisdom, rather than leaving me to my own devices and exposing to embarrassment (and that's how I have certainly felt regardless of how others saw it). But God didn't do it. Often the purpose of things such as this is clearer when one looks back at them after a longer while with the benefit of retrospection, but here I think the purpose seems clear. In my messages from the past few months I described to you how, almost without exception, every earthly hope I set failed. Instead of the long awaited new start in my life I have, in my naivety, put myself write in the midst of much earthly trouble and exposed to some new trials. I wrote to you how each of these failures has been laying heavily on my heart, which made separating from worldly matters and focusing on study often difficult. As I was leaving to home, my Christmas break was beginning and I was finally finding some peace after a spiritual offensive to overcome all these worries. Only for this to happen almost immediately upon my arrival. And why? Probably because I have again expected too much from an earthly matter and didn't prepare as I ought to have done - as for an attack from unbelievers. And what is the result? That now I had another issue that I had to find peace with. These things need finally to be put aside, because I've been thrown off my stride many enough times and for long enough. I agree, it is a strategy that Satan uses and that I need to learn to be immune through the application of the truth, but that is indeed hard to do. Philippians 3:13 is the truth and I know it, but it requires effort in faith to let this truth purge all these earthly worries and embarrassment that I have exposed myself too.
I believe this incident, at least to a degree, does point to withdrawal. I believe that all that has happened points to that. On the one hand I know I have to stay in the world (John 17:15), on the other separation from earthly matters and problems has been much needed - first of all, in the heart. And this is what I have been working on to achieve, learning to implement the scriptural truth in these new circumstances which make it hard to bridge the gap between knowing what the Bible says and living according to it. I know, however, that outward separation will help too. It now seems quite clear that reducing some professional commitments and moving away from London will help, even if at this point I don't know how specifically to go about either of these two questions. What I do know is that whatever outward separation does happen, it should only follow a true change in the heart whereby I have acquired the ability to leave the problems of this satanic world aside and focus on preparation to the ministry, rather than allowing all them to occupy my thoughts. There are options I'm considering there and your prayers will be greatly appreciated. In worldly matters I have clearly lacked good discernment and although I recognise some of the spiritual reasons behind certain wrong judgements, I know that only if I follow God's path will things change for the better. It seemed to me, for example, that moving to London, although I knew it would considerably increase the cost of living, was a good choice, as the motivation behind was to reduce the time spent on driving. Increasing the time available for the study by reducing the driving looked like a good investment of the resources that God has given me. It turned out, however, that living in a place like London is a mental challenge, particularly as one is very close to the place of work where all the things that I wrote to you happen and ever since moving here it has been much harder to focus and a considerable amount of many has been lost in the process too. I am in fact really looking forward to getting out of here.
Testimony to the truth and reaching out to the Lord by getting some time in the limelight seems a very unlikely possibility after my few years experience in this profession. It's a terrible, false environment where opportunities to testify to the truth arise very seldom, if at all. I do think that apart from the spiritual conclusions to be drawn from it, this event could be a "blip" in the sense that my involvement in the media is unlikely to be very frequent.
I agree and while I have to apply our Lord's counsel about being both innocent and shrewd from now on, I certainly wish I had kept it mind these two weeks ago, it's a big opportunity missed. But it's gone now and I know I cannot allow it to cause me to limp spiritually for weeks to come.
I also wanted to ask you a question about the study - I have just finished reading the New Testament (I think it's the third or fourth time since I have come to the faith) and I was wondering whether there are any refinements I could apply before restarting. Currently while reading a chapter I go through all questions on it that have come up in our correspondence and I also use the Barker's study Bible (it's the second time I've read the New Testament using it). There are a couple of considerations I wanted to consult with you. Firstly, do you think I should switch to Greek, or should I keep English for my daily reading? At the moment I do the morning Bible reading in English (both Old and New Testament) and then proceed to the language study slot during which I go through one chapter from each Testament in original language. I'm not sure if it's a good idea (or a good idea yet) to combine the two.
Secondly, as I would like to be able to produce at least some teaching in my native language, I have been thinking about reading a given chapter in both languages. There is not much theological study I'm able to do in my mother tongue and it has recently occurred to me that the most obvious thing to do (and one which I have somehow not thought about) was to read the scripture in my native language. I have not done it for three years now after my disappointment with the Catholic rendering, but there are others too and maybe it would be a valuable addition, particularly in the context of future ministry to fellow countrymen.
Finally, having read the New Testament these few times, I feel I have some grounding in it, something I lacked a few years ago. I think the time could be ripe for me not only to write down questions, but also to start taking some notes as a preparation to teaching (categorising some useful cross-references, writing down verses which could be used in some of the resources I have already begun to prepare, such as the "verses for testing" or the study on general and special revelation, etc.). Since you have been through all these processes yourself, your guidance would be much appreciated. You know what is likely to be useful in the ministry and what could potentially turn out not to be a good use of time.
All three considerations above (and I'm of course open to any suggestions you have on the subject) would contribute to the pace of the reading potentially being slower and consequently it could perhaps at times be difficult to go through the entire chapter daily. Here also your insight would be valuable, because although I know that it might be a time to increase the depth of the study by implementing any of the ideas above, it is also quite possible to immerse oneself so much in each verse that each book could take months to complete and that, at least at my current stage, could also be counterproductive. There are always new things I pick up as I reread the scriptures and I noticed that it's not a linear process, whereby one understands one book from the beginning to the end and then starts a new one, but it's rather like a mosaic in which often very distant elements begin to work together as one progresses through the books. For this process to continue, one has to maintain at least a certain pace, as each time a book is reread a new piece of puzzle can be put into its place, even if not everything is yet clear.
In our Lord,
I'm happy to hear that you are back in the UK and are putting this behind you. Keeping one's spiritual bearings under pressure is not easy. So it's a mark of your growing spiritual maturity that you are putting these things into the right perspective and seeing God's plan for you behind everything that happens. He truly is working everything out for you for the good, my friend, even as you love Him and His Son our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
I will be keeping you in prayer for just the right door opening up for you for just the right combination of work and service to the Lord. In the meantime, I would only wish to remind you of two things. First, whatever happens, we can be joyful in the Lord, because we realize that this life is very short, and that we have a body, a home, and a reward all imperishable in the heavens in the presence of the One we love more than this life. So even on the bad days we know that these are only one at a time, that tomorrow we will be with Him, and that, despite everything, we have the opportunity "today" to put something into our eternal store of treasure to our benefit and His good pleasure. Even if we are sowing with tears today, we will reap with great rejoicing on that wonderful day to come (Ps.126:5), and that should always be a source of inner happiness regardless of present day problems.
Second, the Christian life is more like engaging in combat than playing a piece of music. In the latter example we strive for a perfect performance, and are upset with ourselves when we make tiny mistakes; in the former example we are bombarded by all manner of attacks we cannot anticipate and about which we can do nothing – except to strive to survive and to fight as best we can no matter what. In the latter, mistakes are less common; in the former, no soldier of whatever rank has ever experienced a perfect day of battle. Blood is always spilled. We are in the midst of a fierce spiritual warfare where the consequences are even greater than physical life and death – the consequences are eternal ones. And we are being opposed in every good thing we try to do, not just by the sin dwelling in our bodies but by the evil one and all his forces. If it were not for the support we receive from the Lord, we would not survive for an instant. And while it is possible to remain in emotional equilibrium when playing music, the same is much more difficult when engaged in warfare with all of its surprises, lulls, intense attacks, etc. But the best soldiers learn to keep an even keel regardless of the state of the battle, calmly and coolly continuing to do their job under fire in spite of all the noise and fury going on around them – and in spite of the mistakes they are going to be making every day. This is what we strive to accomplish as well. We are going to make mistakes. Even if we were to make no mistakes there would still be casualties, pain, and loss, and there would still be embarrassment. But whatever the opposition, whatever the trouble, whether from within or without, whether totally our fault or not our fault at all, nothing changes the fact that we are soldiers in the battle line with a job to do. If we persist through faith in doing that job day in and day out regardless of circumstances, that is the victory. We can take pride in that, we can take pleasure in that, and we can have confidence that such is the way to win a good reward, please our Commanding Officer, and help our fellow Christian soldiers to do likewise.
As to your question on procedure, everything you propose seems reasonable to me. I read the Bible in English every day as well as reading it in Greek and Hebrew. Reading it in your native tongue may also be helpful (difficult for me to say as I don't have the same experience of learning a second spoken language as well as you have done). Hearing the same things from a different perspective often is illuminating. In terms of specific preparation for future study, this also seems reasonable to me, but as I have probably shared with you before in my experience it's difficult to anticipate how to structure material without an actual situation since adapting the mode of presentation to the actual audience (not the truth of the message) is always critical – and it's nigh on impossible for us to know what the Lord is bringing our way before the fact. When I was in seminary and anticipating these things, about the only thing I did know about all this (as I too was fixing up sheaves of notes for this purpose, index cards and the like) was that I wasn't interested in "preaching sermons". When I did get the opportunity to teach others face to face, it turned out that there was never a problem with material – the problem was the lack of time to present it. So it became necessary to keep the main points of teaching in mind and do my best to get them across. I also found that for face to face teaching what I had solidly in my mind and heart "ready to go" was what was most useful. In other words, to get back to the combat analogy, "no plan ever survives contact with the enemy", but if one keeps to the objective, the battle can be won – for those who are so well-trained that proper action and reaction are reflexes. So the more scripture and the more principles of truth you retain in your heart and mind, and deeply so – so as to be able to express these verbally and immediately with the help of the Spirit – the better prepared you will be to help a group of people who are really interested in learning the Word of God. As a ministry stabilizes and formalizes, no doubt some of these approaches will as well, but it's hard, it seems to me, to accomplish this inside out.
Keeping you in my prayers day by day, my friend.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Just last couple of questions. Would you say it's a good idea for me to commence with Meyer's commentary now? If so, is it a type of resource you've been reading alongside the scripture (as, for example, going through all the notes in a study bible), or is it a resource similar to Keil and Delitzsch - rather to be consulted every now and then?
You are exactly right about both things. It has been one of the most difficult truths for me to apply in my life - to forget what lies behind, stay fully focused on the opportunity granted by the Lord in the present and reach forward to what lies ahead, particularly when I know I'm at fault. And in this situation there was the issue of embarrassment and disappointment at a big missed opportunity too.
And I have allowed the earthly problems to overly distract me from the things eternal. It has been a new test. Before my professional life changed a year and a half ago, I didn't have to cut through the worries, issues and all the weeds to make space and time for the truth. There have been tests, but of a different nature.
I agree, faith and patience will be critical with the ministry as with other things. God does direct our paths through the opportunities presented to us and perhaps even now there are some indications of what direction I could take. It may be early to say with full confidence, but I feel that I would like to write, as you are doing. I can speak in front of an audience, but I like to have the time to think, to structure the content and take time in producing anything. But I know that here also, at least to a degree, the parallel of the battle holds also.
A lot of bad things happened in recent months. Last period has been a new test. But I have to say, in hope and excitement I look at the coming months. I know what I've got to do, grow spiritually and put the truth first every day. I've been battle-hardened in some new areas through what went on.
In our Lord,
It's good to hear that you are putting all these life-issues into a good spiritual perspective. Until we trust the Lord that He is working all this out in His perfect plan for us, we can easily be swamped by the ins and outs of life, whether good, bad or indifferent. I know that Jesus has a ministry for you. What and how and where we will both be more than a little interested to find out. In the meantime, your godly arranging of your life and your consistent efforts to become prepared for that day are things with which you should be satisfied. As I often say, we can always do better; being consistent with "good" is the first job, however, and getting frustrated with "not perfect" is a trap – because we live in the world, after all.
As to procedures, I always suggest spending most of one's time on the primary source rather than the secondary material. What I suggest is having the secondary tools handy for times when you do have questions and want to dig into them. We will never be through with reading the Bible until the Lord comes back, and there will always be questions and if we keep reading and digging also always answers – often when we didn't even know we had a question.
Your fellow student of the Word of God.
Hello, Dr. Luginbill
It's good to hear from. I've been going through some tough times in my life, and it seems as if it gets more difficult the harder I try to get closer to God. I know I wouldn't be able to go through these hard trials in my life on my own. I greatly appreciate having the Lord on my side, otherwise I would fail. I am also grateful to have someone like you praying for me, someone who understands that life can be hard at times. Now my older brother is not speaking with my parents and hangs up on them when my parents try to call him on the phone. Please pray with me that my brother will reconcile with my Mom and Dad. My parents are at that age where they don't have too much time here on earth. My mom is emaciated from not eating because she's always sick and the doctors don't seem to have an answer for her. I hope you have a blessed Christmas and New Year. God Bless you and your ministry. God Bless,
Sorry to hear about your troubles and family issues. I will keep these things in prayer (and have put them on the Ichthys list). I hope that you will persevere in your good walk with the Lord and in your spiritual growth. As we do become stronger in our faith and Christian character through the Word, the trials might not get easier (in fact they may get harder) but we also become more capable of bearing up under them and also better at seeing things from the divine perspective: God has this all thought out and all under control. We are merely entering into the works He has for us to do to glorify Him and to earn wonderful eternal rewards.
Looking forward to cheering you on that great day to come.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I do hope you are doing well. I just wanted to say thank you for your ministry and the excellent resources you have provided at Ichthys. I have downloaded all of your books and I'm in the process of making hard copies of them; computers are great but I still like to hold a book in my hand. The emails you have posted are a great help as well, so far the questions that I've had during my studies have already been answered. I'm also following pastor Omo's teachings at Bible Academy, again, an excellent resource. The two of you are truly men who accurately handle the Word of God, much needed, much appreciated, and worthy of all respect. I know you are a grace ministry and do not accept gifts but if you are ever in need do not hesitate to ask.
Praying for you
Always great to hear from you!
Thanks so much for these encouraging words – they are greatly appreciated. And thanks especially for your prayers.
I get what you are saying about books. It's just that publishing these materials would involve having to do some things I'm not comfortable with (link: FAQ #1).
As to your kind offer, Pastor Omo's website does accept donations (see the link), and it is most worthy in my opinion.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and very happy New Year.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Need a little prayer for our brother. He was upset today, as his children seem to have ASD. Its tough on his wife (though she is very patient).
He is a brave brother of ours (very brave) and very talented. I do not know much about ASD (only whatever I have learnt from Wikipedia). All I know is that he loves our Lord a lot. I haven't seen him so frustrated.
Please sir, pray for our brother.
The rest is fine at my end. You are in my prayers. Signing off before my BlackBerry starts acting up (no one uses them these days, 5 years old it is, and I can't find a genuine battery for it, money is a different problem, we are all broke after all).
Love you sir,
Always good to hear from you, my dear friend. I have been and will continue to be praying for our brother, and also for you. Being a husband and a father is no easy task under any circumstances, as you yourself know very well, so these additional problems load on the stress. At such times, it is so important to lean on the Lord and not on ourselves. Life and this world always bring us to the end of ourselves – so that we may better appreciate and rely on the Lord who is our everything (for believers who are willing to accept the truth).
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
I'm very encouraged to hear that you are hanging in there, my friend! Please continue to do so. I know that your life is no "bed of roses" either. Sometimes the road ahead is easy, but more often than not for Christians who have truly committed themselves to following and serving Jesus Christ, the road is rocky and precipitous. Add some bad weather and it is easy to stop or turn back. But those who persevere, whether the progress is fast or slow, are never disappointed in the end. We know what Jesus did for us, after all – and we must never forget what He is about to do for us in the near future.
In the Name of the One who died to take away all of our sins that we might have life eternal in Him, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Will I ever be able to earn a good living, sir?
Hello my friend.
You are in the process of earning eternal rewards that will put all the wealth of this world into the shade. The smallest reward in eternity will be worth more than the wealth of the entire present day material universe – and we will enjoy the rewards we are earning now forevermore.
So do be of good cheer, my friend. There is tribulation in this world, for all who believe in Christ and especially for all who really do take their faith seriously as you do, who try to honor Jesus in this life by growing spiritually, walking with Him as He would have us do, and helping others do the same: we come in for even more opposition. But whatever the opposition is, our Lord is greater than the one who is in the world (1Jn.4:4), and He will bring us through it, if only we continue to have faith and do the things we know we should be doing.
The Lord knows your needs, and He has planned for their provision since before the world was made. What we need to do when we are feeling the pinch (whatever that pinch is) is to remember that and to keep trusting Him to bring about our deliverance – which He always does, and at just the right time.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV
You are in my prayers everyday, my friend.
Be pleased to have joy in Jesus Christ for all that is soon to come.
And I am very Thankful for you! I am doing fine. I am at peace. Slowly growing in the Lord. Things are going to get pretty difficult soon so I need to get my act together.
I am sorry I couldn't reply to your previous emails, I didn't have any internet access. I have a few enemies who know to "use" the evil spirits quiet well. They were back on the attack so, I was little busy.
My only source of reading ICHTHYS is dying. That is why the delays. I am behind by one year, at least. I am still your brother, longing to learn more about my Lord. Its just a matter of time. I will catch up soon. Just don't count me out.
Thanks for your concerns and for always remembering me. You are in my prayers.
Always wonderful to hear from you, my friend. I am sorry to learn that your access to Ichthys is problematic. I do hope you will be able to resolve this. I would be happy to send you anything you wish as an email attachment (but I understand that these problems may well be connected so I won't do anything without your say-so).
I certainly won't "count you out", my friend! Indeed, I am most definitely "counting on you".
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
1st Thessalonians 2:19-20 NIV
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend, in fair weather and foul.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
How are you?
Things are interesting here as always. Our situation has come to a place where we're no longer to help our landlady like her disease(s) demand and I'm not certain how it'll work out.
It's amazing how we get tested, brother. Although she is a believer, she has resisted much biblical knowledge and, now that her disease is bad, is demanding that I change my and my family's behavior to worldly standards to make her comfortable. All she can do is wake up each day and questions everyone's motives and suppose we're all "up to something" which is all par for the course and I'm simply unable to continue.
Blessedly, my wife and I may be in a position to buy a house (a cheap one) so as to get out of this situation; your prayers are always appreciated.
On the brighter side, The Lord really has blessed me in my new job. I am seeing great success and I pray so hard that this leads to some sort of ministry because I'm learning Greek AND Hebrew and I'm not stopping until it's accomplished.
I truly "hate" my life and it feels right, I really hope I'm on some sort of right track. Little, random things that shouldn't get messed with are constantly so, everyone is against me.. Do I sound crazy? I don't feel crazy, and I'm not fretting anything like before. Is this "rejoicing under suffering"?
Maybe soon I'll be able to afford to bring our friend and his family here to this country so he can work, The Lord knows.
Your brother In Christ,
I'm thrilled to hear about your new job! I have been praying for you about this for some time.
As to the home situation, I'll be keeping that on my list now too.
Good for you too, my friend, for all you are doing for our brother. I had written to him last week or so and it took him a minute to get back to me because he doesn't have regular internet access.
I'm also very pleased by the obvious spiritual growth you are exhibiting, my friend.
Keep up your good efforts to prepare for ministry – it's not easy to do Greek and Hebrew on one's own (believe me, I know). But God does honor preparation, and He does use prepared people. Nothing you are doing is in vain or wasted – it will all be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ. So please stay encouraged and "in the fight". We learn to hate the world but love this battle for the Lord . . . if we stick with it.
You are an encouragement to me, my friend.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Same to you as well. I can never get into the "spirit" of things though, never really have been able to.
I'm sorry for my silence lately. A constant state of embarrassment over pretty much everything I say and do is always nagging. Like how you wish me a happy new year; I know full well this day means nothing to you as it does me, but it's near impossible for "normal" minded people to not try to inspire emotion in others even if only to make them feel better. I'm the driest of crackers, and perfectly built to tell the truth and be rejected for it.
Yes, they reject the message and use me as an excuse as the Word makes clear many times over, but I can't even get along marginally with marginal believers.
Also, this work thing is near impossible to fathom; statistically, someone in my place has an 85-90% chance of being unemployed, so I'm "normal" for being handicapped in this way. My family is expanding again and the job situation is as unstable as ever. The last job fell through again and I can't do what I'm doing now and make a decent living.
I'm left feeling like my only options are to be living like an outlaw or societal outcast. I'm almost at my wits end and feeling trapped, again. That being said, I haven't had a major episode in a long time and my self awareness, especially being emotionally challenged is seemingly higher than most by a lot, so it's not completely a loss, I would just LOVE a break.
I don't know what else to do..
I really hope you are better off than me, brother.
I really appreciate you trying to cheer me up and praying for me, I'm just stuck in a position where I can't lie or distort my situation. I'm sorry I can't sound more optimistic; I know The Lord is with me, I just can't understand anything that's been going on and am constantly struggling to be any kind of sufficient for my family.
I'm sorry to hear about your continuing struggles. "Understanding" the whys and wherefores of the difficulties we face as believers is not the stuff of spiritual immaturity. You are in possession of the truth and can fight that fight – but it is a very difficult fight to fight (just ask Job). What I do know is that what you say is right: the Lord is with you. Since He is with you, who can be against you? That doesn't pay the bills, but the Lord does always make a way through the impenetrable sea, doesn't He? Isn't that the whole testimony of your life thus far? You are still standing, despite the best shots of the evil one.
A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:1-8 NIV
When we are under the gun and it looks to all the world as if we are going to fall down never to rise again, it does test our faith. But the Lord is always faithful, as we know. How many times have you ALMOST fallen irreparably down, yet the Lord sustained you and delivered you? He will do so again. He is always faithful.
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Proverbs 24:16 NIV
It's a very human thing to pass a test and then be tripped up after things are going well later on if pressure reemerges. And it's very easy to ask "Why?!" Better is to accept that the Lord knows what He is doing, and find our courage in Him and His love and faithfulness. Whatever small troubles we have in this life – and they are all small, even unto death – we know that we have an inheritance in the heavens that exceeds by untold orders of magnitude anything we could possible gain in this world, even if everything always went our way. And the rewards that come for those who are preparing themselves diligently for service as you have been doing and follow through to the end will be even greater. The evil one knows this too, and no doubt that has a lot to do with the setbacks you are experiencing. But the Lord Jesus will never let the devil do more than you can actually bear (1Cor.10:13), and He will always work out for the good whatever does happen – it's all been written up in the plan for your life just that way (Rom.8:28). My advice: The Lord is preparing you; let Him prepare you. And be ready when the call comes.
"No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.
Isaiah 54:17 NIV
I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers, my friend.
Keep fighting the good fight of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I have a question which has been in my mind for years and was afraid to ask. All my life I have felt an opposition to my professional and financial progress, regardless of how well qualified or how well "connected" I was/am with the person (s) who make the decision to give me job. I'm well aware of my excellent academic and professional qualifications, my friendly demeanor (I seem to be well liked, at last that is what I've heard all my life) and even then, nothing comes to fruition. Could it be that there is a generational curse on me, or some kind of satanic blockade that impedes my progress? I see no doors opening and an attack on my property and finances from people who I have done nothing to, God is my witness, but who want to take financial advantage of me.
It embarrasses me to have to say these things, as it makes me feel inadequate and unworthy, or weak or even give you the impression that I have some kind of conflictive personality and that nobody wants me. All I've done in my life is act honestly, worked hard, never cheated anyone, treat people nice, and turn away from my past sins and love of the world.
It is as something strange has been blocking my progress and the sense of having a full life always. Since I graduated from Grad School it has been an uphill struggle, professionally fluff accidents (either they close the business down, or the project ends, or business goes belly up, or I'm cancelled for political reasons, whatever).
Could it be that there is a need for deliverance from satanic oppression or generational curses because of the "things" my parents were into? Do you recommend deliverance, and where? Is there something in the spiritual realm that blocks me?
Please give me some guidance as this is something I don't even discuss with my friends, as it makes me feel ashamed for failures I have not caused. I have always stood for honesty, integrity, love and support of my fellow men and co-workers. Is there something intrinsically wrong with me?
I look forward to deliverance as I feel that some force has a "black list" to impede my happiness. Please help!
Don't panic, my friend. God deals with us all one on one. There is no "generational curse" for those who believe in Jesus Christ. All who want to live godly in Christ are persecuted by the world and the evil one (2Tim.3:12).
Last time I spoke with you, you reported moving forward spiritually and I was filled with confidence that you were beginning to pick up momentum in your growth and walk with the Lord. THAT is probably the reason for the new wave of opposition from the evil one. All of our good decisions get tested – to see how deeply committed we really are. And part of the test is the tendency we all have to either be sorry for ourselves on the one hand, or assume we have done something terrible on the other, or when we know that isn't the case to get us looking backward to old issues deep in the past or even to old associations such as you report now. That is what Job did:
"For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth".
Job 12:26 NIV
Guilt, whatever the underlying reason, is never a helpful emotion. And it is usually misplaced (as in this case). The proper attitude for a Christian moving forward in the Lord is to remember that these attacks are not personal – they are assaults on soldiers in Christ just as any soldier in any army moving forward as he should is going to get shelled and shot at. So it's really a compliment (even though getting shelled and shot at whether actually or figuratively is never enjoyable), and that is the spirit in which we really need to view these developments. You are running well; don't let yourself get bumped off the course.
As to the particulars, all I can say is that I can't count on my fingers and toes all the good Christians I know of who are now experiencing or who have experienced just this sort of thing you now report. Times are hard, but that doesn't explain everything. A person who is not a Christian or a Christian who is not doing what he/she should in devoting his/her primary effort to following the Lord is not generally going to experience this same rough treatment that you are experiencing.
Resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1st Peter 5:9
What can we do? We can commit our way to the Lord, do what He would have us to do, persevere in every correct course of action – and above all TRUST Him to work it all out for us for the good of those who love Him (Rom.8:28). This will usually require patience and long-suffering, and deliverance is generally not something that comes to us overnight, but we can be confident that He will never let us down, and that we will never be "begging bread" or forsaken by Him (Ps.37:25).
For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
1st Thessalonians 3:4 ESV
As I have tried to show in part four of the Satanic Rebellion series, "Strangers in the Devil's Realm", this sort of systematic attack is par for the course for those few believers on earth who really are doing things Jesus' way. We will thus always have opposition and tribulation in this world if we really do want to please our Lord . . . but He has overcome this world (Jn.16:33), and through Him we will overcome as well, to great reward.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2nd Corinthians 4:17 NIV
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend! I am keeping you in my prayers daily, and I have added a prayer request for you on the Ichthys prayer list.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Dear Brother Bob,
Thank you so much for your email. I wish to encourage and commend you for your recent postings especially Peter Series Lesson #31 and Matthew line by line. As you know, your weekly postings continue to be my major source of spiritual nourishment for the whole year.
I am grateful for your prayers and that of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please know that I keep you and your ministry in my prayers as well as those in Ichthys prayer request list. I also rejoiced and was encouraged when I learned of your great deliverance by the Lord.
During my fellowship with you in Ichthys I have been delivered by the Lord through numerous difficulties and I believe in my heart that such were on account of the prayers of our Ichthys family. Again I thank you as I praise God for leading me to your ministry.
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones my dear teacher and brother!
Yours in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,
Thanks much for your good words and encouraging testimony! I especially appreciate your faithfulness in praying for the folks on the Ichthys prayer list. I occasionally hear from some of them with updates, and while they sometimes report successes, well, we do have tribulation in this world and so I leave them on as long as I know that there is still pressure ongoing of a similar nature. I'm delighted to hear of your deliverance in the Lord! God is certainly good, and absolutely faithful! Our part is to hang in until the deliverance comes. Patience was never my personal strong suit, so it's always wonderfully encouraging to learn when one of my brothers or sisters in Christ has done it "the right way" and been rewarded with a timely deliverance worthy of praising the Lord for. Praise the Lord!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior in all ways.
It is so good to hear from you. With the holiday season so quickly approaching the speed of life gains a momentum that is hard to interfere with. Howbeit, you still find the time to send personal emails that are greatly encouraging, in-depth, and full of wisdom and knowledge. You definitely have many gifts and from my limited knowledge and understanding, you’re walking worthy of the manner by which you were called. The time and effort that you have put into your website, in regards to content and tremendous detail, is nearly unprecedented and the unusual thing about it is that you’re not selling the knowledge of truth nor have you made it into a business or money making scheme like most of the modern so called Evangelicals today.
I deeply admire your efforts, genuineness, sincerity, love, and concern for God’s people. You have obviously devoted your life to our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! To Him be the Glory, honor, and power forever and ever! Amen.
With all that being said, I would like to enter dialogue with you concerning God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will. Now I am aware that I am far inferior to your level concerning intellect, knowledge, and or wisdom, and have a great deal to learn from you, a process that has already begun and been very enlightening to me. However, if you and your valuable time would permit, I would like to discuss the desired topic with you. From what I gather from your teachings and my very limited knowledge, we seem to have opposing views here, and I would like to resolve this if possible. I definitely don’t mind being wrong at all. God’s word is the final and absolute infallible rule of faith for the Church and I strive to understand it in the context that God intended and this is exactly how I corrected my understanding and beliefs concerning water baptism through your teachings.
If this is good with you please let me know and in the mean time, I will continue to review your exegetical teachings that you have directed me to.
May the Love of Christ continue to abound in your life.
With great admiration,
Thanks so much very your exceptionally gracious and encouraging words!
As to your question, I would be delighted to discuss this issue with you (it might be a minute before I get to any new email since I'm a tad swamped at the moment, however). One thing I would like to point out in advance is that my position is not the standard one on either side of the issue (you can see it fully developed in the study BB 4B: Soteriology at the link). In a nutshell, God is sovereign and man has genuine free will. These two propositions have always seemed antithetical to human logic but God's truth is theo-logical, and not bound by human limitations. We genuinely choose; He genuinely decreed. What He decreed is what we chose; what we choose is what He decreed. Our free will is no less free for His decree; His decree is no less absolute for our genuine free will. We are not liberated of the need to choose because of the decree, and our continual, genuine choosing does not invalidate that decree.
As I say, it's mostly in the link above (there are other places where this is discussed too), and I wanted to make you aware of the above to save time and confusion.
Thanks again for your uplifting email, my friend!
Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas time in Jesus Christ our dear Lord, the Gift of gifts.
Thank you Dr for the quick response and as far as reading the email strings in the weekly postings that become too argumentative, I will take the Spirit lead to see if I should pass over them rather than reading for edification.
As far as my news, I will know more this week about what is going to happen. Needless to say it is going to be a very long day.
As far as myself, I just don't know what God has in store. When I first heard of the news in late October, it basically put a halt on all my plans. I just basically became immobile and put all life activity apart from going to work on hold because I did not know what God had in store and I still do not.
I was holding myself hostage because I was in a sense double minded as James 1:8 eloquently put it. That is why you received all those emails from me. I just did not know how to handle this test initially. I was becoming Job like in this test. Still studying, praying, praising the Lord, etc but I believe at the core do not "trust" him to take care of this matter. Not because he can't but because I just don't see how. I believe that is an area of spiritual growth I need. Basically to trust God not on a basic primordial level but on a deep abiding unmitigated faith level. It is something that doesn't come by but through tests like these.
I know it sounds crazy but that is how I was feeling and what was causing all the angst. Then about two weeks ago, His Spirit, I believe spoke to me and told me "to stop it". In a loving way. Meaning, stop putting my life on hold to wait for the outcome and continue to move my life in faith and wait for him. So I asked for a raise and promotion in my job, not knowing if I will be there two months from now. I prayed many times before that decision and will continue to move my life forward how Christ would want me to and let Him handle the outcome.
That is what I have been doing. I am apprehensive about what will happen and the odds are not good but I am learning that trusting the Lord is not easy but is the most critical aspect of getting to know him and be like Christ and ultimately give him the glory. I don't mean trusting Him for your daily food, clothing, job, etc but really trusting him when you have no idea what He will do.
That is part of my spiritual growth and I thank you for helping me in that journey. I will keep you abreast of any news, good or not so good based on my perspective.
In Christ our Lord.
FYI, I do consider you a friend even as much as a brother in Christ.
Thank you for this heartfelt email. I am certainly praying for your victory in this and have placed your concern on the prayer list.
One thing I will share with you is that your attitude in all this seems to me to be exceptional. I have drawn encouragement both from the stalwartness of your faith and also from the fact that in spite of this incredible pressure you have not "shut down" spiritually but have been continuing your spiritual advance. So you have not been perfect in this? None of us is perfect even in good times of little or no pressure. In warfare it is often the case that the most heroic warriors are concerned about being afraid or about not doing enough – even when their exceptional courage and accomplishments have inspired others to carry on. So while I do appreciate your humility in all this and wish you to hold fast to that salutary attitude, I also want you to be encouraged so as not to despair. The Lord has some important purpose in all this for you, and you are passing the test. Please continue to do so. If you can do better, do better. But please understand that you are glorifying the Lord with your courage and trust of Him in this dark time. This is where the crown of life is won. Continue to fight this fight of faith well as you have been doing, my friend, and it will redound to your eternal reward and to the Lord's eternal glory – as well as inspiring your brother and sister Christian soldiers in the ranks to soldier on as you are doing so well.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for remembering me and keeping me in your prayers. I am still very ill. I wanted to ask you though. Do you believe that God truly does not allow or give to us more than we can handle or bear in this life? Because I used to believe that. I am not so sure now though because the pain I am experiencing is way beyond my threshold and I honestly feel as though sheer torture could not be worse than what I am experiencing although I am trying my best not to focus on the negative but it can be quite difficult. Thank you again and I wish you a very Happy Holiday season and may the best of health be yours.
I'm sorry to hear that you are still suffering so. I will continue to keep you in prayer on this and have placed a request for you on the prayer list. I think of that wonderful believer Job and all the trouble that came to him, including intense physical pain, simply because he was such a great witness to the Lord. His suffering was so severe that he did falter in the end when prompted by the cold comfort of his erstwhile friends – but only for a moment. And if he had endured a moment longer he would have passed the test perfectly. We are weak, and under such pressure as you are enduring it is not at all unusual to have to struggle with the principles of truth which tell us that God will deliver us in a timely fashion. That is what patience and perseverance is all about. If tests were easy, they wouldn't be tests. If it seemed like a test were bearable, it wouldn't be much of a "final exam". If we could easily see the way out, there wouldn't be much opportunity to place our faith in the Lord's rescuing us when it seems to the eyes of the world as if there is no hope:
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
But they were delivered as we know. And so we do have hope too, and that hope will never disappoint us if we stay true to it in faith, knowing that Jesus loves us and is here with us and will never abandon or forsake us. There are hard times ahead for the Church and entire world, and it seems to me that the intense suffering that so many of our brothers and sisters are enduring today is a preparation for what is to come. We have not / are not all suffering / have suffered in the same ways (God knows what we can and cannot endure and what will or will not test and strengthen our faith in the perfect way), but in this world we all have tribulation – and so much the more so it seems as we see the end approaching.
I want you to know and remember that God hears our prayers, that Jesus is concerned for you and your situation, and that your deliverance has already been entered into the plan of God from eternity past. Just how and when and where it will happen for you I cannot say. No one can. That is the essence of the test. But please do accept in faith that the Lord will deliver you in precisely the right way at precisely the right time. Our job is to believe in His words of truth and to do our best to be faithful in all we think and do and say. The more we are "in the Word" in reading our Bibles and learning the truth of the Word in Bible study from a good source, the more we will grow and the stronger our faith will become to endure all such pressures to the glory of Jesus Christ and also to our great eternal reward in glorifying Him with our faithful service here on earth.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB
Here are some links which may be helpful.
Mutual Encouragement in Christ II
In Need of Guidance and Encouragement.
All about Ichthys: Mutual encouragement in the Lord
Mutual Encouragement in Christ.
Christian Trials and Testing
On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.
Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.
Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.
In need of encouragement.
Waiting on God.
Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you so much for your words of inspiration and truth and they came exactly when I needed them the most. The only part of Job I can relate to is his severe pain and he was such an upright man while I am not. But you know what Bob? In spite of my sufferings the lesson is learned and I would rather suffer now with this and learn and be with our Lord in heaven than to have never learned at all. Thank you again and I appreciate all of the effort and many hours you put into the New Peter posting and all of your work. Take care and please keep in touch as I look forward to your emails. I have been praying for you today and thanking God for you Bob, Our Lord's faithful servant. God Bless You!
Yours in Christ,
Thanks for the prayers! I'm hoping and praying for your victory over this trial very soon. Keep moving forward spiritually, my friend. That's the only way to keep these things in perspective. No, we are not as great as Job or David or Elijah, but in spite of their greatness they all failed from time to time too. One of the things that sets them apart is that they didn't let their failures keep them down, and God quickly turned their cursing into blessing as a result. He does that for all of us in spite of past mistakes when we really are walking with Him (Rom.8:28).
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Greetings Mr. Luginbill,
I just wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Your work has been a blessing to me, and I know it has to others as well, I admire your zeal for the Master, Messiah Jesus the Lord. May He pour out upon you many gracious blessings this season, and may the coming year be a year filled with fruitful labor for the King of kings and Lord of lords, to Whom you belong, and to Who's glory you live, and move and have your being. Mr. Luginbill, thank so much for all the help you have given me over time, you have been a true Christian friend to me. I thank God that he put us in contact several years ago, your humility in even corresponding with me, as well as the kindness in which you have done so, is an inspiration to me. Though we haven't met in person, nor have we known each other for many years, even so I don't complain at all, for the fact that I have any type of relationship with you at all is more than I deserve anyway. The Lord Jesus has been so good to me, and I know that every good thing that has ever come to me, has always come from Him. I am a blessed man, and I am blessed to know you, I truly mean that. Keep serving the King my friend, to Him be the glory forever and ever, Amen! God bless you my friend, you are a blessing.
Your brother in Messiah Jesus, our Mighty GOD !!!
I very much appreciate this message of encouragement, I pray that you will become equipped for your own ministry, chosen by the Lord, for the fulfillment of your Christian purpose and a wonderful reward on that great day of days.
Here's wishing you and yours also a blessed Christmas, and a truly wonderful 2016!
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Your friend in Him,
I hope you and your family are doing well. I thank God that He bought your ministry to each one of your readers footsteps this year. I believe you have been a blessing to most even while you are humble not to recognize it.
I need prayer because I believe I am failing this test because of lack of faith. I just do no see how God will deliver me from this trial. I have apprehension about going away, not that God will not be with me but the prospect of leaving my family. This reminds me of Luke 14:26 where I am paraphrasing, that if you love your family more than Him, then you can not be a disciple. I think it applies to me in this situation because I do not want to leave them.
I have not gone yet but I can not see how God can deliver. It is a lack of faith but I tend to think it is more of setting myself up so I will not have false hope. I believe having false hope is the fastest way to either become disinterested in the following God or the extreme of apostasy. I don't want to do any of that so therefore I am preparing myself for the inevitable, even while hoping for the best.
Is my approach a symptom of little faith? I believe so because this is not a Moses moment or any other moments in the bible. I can not fathom for a second how a just and loving God will allow sin to not be accounted for. This is no different even though it happened years ago.
I trust the Lord. He has been faithful to me. He has graciously bought me to Christ and made me have a thirst and yearning for His Word. He has renewed my marriage to a faithful wife, subordinate kids and provided me with the opportunity to take care of them. I do trust Him to take care of us and never leave us but that doesn't mean this won't happen.
Am I being prudent to think of it this way to gauge against false hope or am I looking at it from a different prism?
Thank you and I apologize for being a burden to you. I have prayed and continue to study for strength and wisdom.
In our Lord Christ.
I thank you warmly for your good encouraging words to me, my friend, and I sincerely wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas. What the new year brings, none of us can know. I think your way of thinking about these matters is mostly the same way I would think about them. We have faith in God's deliverance. However, it is not our part to dictate to Him the manner or the means or the timing of it. In my own life I have mostly been surprised by how things have worked out. What has been a constant, however, is the grace, the mercy, the love, and the deliverance of the Lord. I am confident that such will be the case with you as well. As to the proper procedure going forward, I have already weighed in on that. I am confident that in the Spirit you can come to discern what is best. I will certainly be keeping you in prayer on this issue to the end, my friend, regardless of what you decide or what happens. God is good in every case.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord – for whom nothing is impossible,