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Question #1:

[question about isolating children from negative sexual influences and other worldly things through alternative education or Christian schooling]

Response #1:

Bringing up children is certainly something to be taken seriously.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

There are two schools of thought on how to carry out the above in practical terms today. The first says to separate the child from the influences of the world as much as possible until he/she is out on their own (home school, no TV, no smart phone or computer access, limited contact with friends who have such things, etc.); the second says to allow the child all such things. In my opinion, the two really critical factors are 1) the example set by the parents in putting spiritual growth and their walk with the Lord in first place; and 2) the choices the child makes. No amount of separation will make up for parents not leading by example and sharing their enthusiasm for the Lord and His truth with their children – because, after all, embracing the positive side is more potent and important than fending off the negative side; both are important, but most people have the emphasis exactly backward. And nothing parents can do will ever change the fact that their kids have free will. Even with near total separation and even with a great positive example, there will be children who want no part of the Lord or who pull a "prodigal son" no matter what and go far off – just as soon as they have the chance – before returning to the Lord. Parents need to give their children a rich spiritual heritage of truth and the example of loving it. That is "training up" in the true and important sense. In most cases, if that is done, the end will be a good one. Dealing with the minutiae of "do this / don't do that" is never a good substitute for this key and fundamental principle.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hey Bob,

I have a sensitive Christian application question that I was wondering about: I am interested in applying to OCS after I graduate university. However, the background application asks some sensitive questions. Also, I don't know whether or not applying is the right thing to do.

Applying a Christian walk in the trenches is hard work. Thank you for your guidance.

In Christ,

Response #2:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend.

When it comes to application, that's the main place where advice is not necessarily helpful – because only the person concerned has all the facts. One important set: "Where am I spiritually? What is my true motivation? What does the Lord want from me personally?"

On the one hand, it's possible to be "overly righteous" in reporting (Eccl.7:16), e.g., medical history in gray areas like allergies or blood pressure, for example, where yes/no might not be absolutely correct either way because of not telling the whole story. On the other hand, if you've had your appendix out and the question is "have you ever had an operation?", I'm not sure there's any way to rationalize around what saying "no" would be. How important is it? That is between you and the Lord in the Holy Spirit.

But here's some perspective. There's really no way for you to know for certain if the Lord wants you to go to OCS and be an officer in the Army/Air Force/or? I can guarantee you that if He doesn't, and if He's determined to prevent it, it wouldn't matter how you approached things, you wouldn't get in. And there's the flip side to that as well: if He DOES want you in, then even being honest to the point of self-detriment won't keep you from getting in. And it's always a mistake to force things either way, because if you force your way in against His will, you'll regret it, and if you successfully avoid doing what He wants, the same is true. I know that is not the way the world looks at it, but that is the way it is. I have found in my life – that while the Lord has bailed me out more times than I can remember when I've not done things absolutely "the right way" – nevertheless I've always felt better when I did what I thought was right. And in such cases it has always worked out for good. Rather, HE has worked it out for good. By "what is right", I do NOT mean worst-case guilt-induced overly-self-destructive behavior of a legalistic sort. Where is that line? It's one you have to figure out for your situation in consultation with the Spirit and the truth. I admitted that I had hay fever and related allergies – because I do. The sergeant who was processing my application told me I wouldn't get in because of it – "What would you do if you were leading your platoon through a field of ragweed?" – but they took me anyway.

On a practical note, here's an observation that may be helpful when combined with the above. I'm not really in the loop at present, but my sense of where things are today is that the armed forces in this country have become both very small and highly professional – much more so than in my day when there was still the last vestiges of a draft. In terms of the professional officer corps, that is even more so the case – and from what I have heard, things are incredibly competitive. My family has chronic high blood pressure and I have had it all my life. I almost didn't get into the USMC because of that as well. I had to report to the school nurse every afternoon for about a month to have it read. So I used to run about six miles or so before I went. I still don't understand the numbers and what they really mean, but I remember that they were erratic on the form even then. But I got in. Today, I'm not so sure I would have. And that is just the medical side of things. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you just recently told me that you have a condition that is going to require an operation. I wonder if this wouldn't be more of an issue in getting in than what you're worried about here.

On OCS, please be very careful about the conditions of signing on. The USMC OCS route used to work as follows: if you are accepted, then you go to OCS, but if you don't make it, you are still in the Corps . . . as an enlisted man. There's nothing wrong with that! But if you have a college degree and are looking for the professional experience of leadership that being an officer brings, six years as an enlisted man is not what you are really aiming for. And there are lots of reasons why you might not graduate OCS. In my PLC class (which was essentially the same thing as OCS except that we were NOT obligated to continue), we lost about 50-60% for various reasons. We had a number of very gung-ho individuals who got injured and were thus unable to continue despite their good performance. I myself developed what I now think was a minor stress fracture of the tibia (or at the very least a world class case of "shin splints") with about a week and a half to go. As a result, I was not able run fast enough to max out the PFT (which otherwise I had done and was sure to do) – but I was in good enough shape to be able to gut it out and finish. If it had happened half way through, I don't think I would have made it.

This is the first I've heard from you of this intention. I can tell you that the military is excellent preparation for a pastor-teacher, and I will never regret it myself – but it's not for everyone. What I tell my students who express interest in the military is that they need to consider that for a lot of folks who join up, it becomes VERY clear about 72 hours after joining that they have a HUGE mistake – and then they have six years to regret it.

So rather than sweat the application form too much, I would recommend you trust the Lord on the one hand, and spend rather more time examining your personal motivations and what you think God intends for you in your life on the other. These are the two things that make for clarity, a clean conscience, and follow-through.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

Your advice on the military here is very insightful and helpful. From your advice, my key takeaway is to not force things and to trust God's plan. The military was always interesting to me as a way to grow as a leader and I feel that I could mentally and physically handle it. You and Pastor Omo's experience in the military and both of your tremendous success in spreading the Gospel also added to my positive feelings of its benefits. Finally, the job is a bit isolated so getting a shade apart from our current inverted clown world in combination with being away from places like college campuses would relieve some spiritual pressures.

All in all, I will not sweat the app and answer the question straight up. if its not meant to be then its not meant to be. In addition, I will make sure to pay a close eye to the contract conditions if the recruiter lets me apply in the first place.

Your shin splint experience sounds horrible. I can relate as I had nasty shin splints during cross country and winter track in high school but did not have to push through 1.5 weeks of unrestricted marine training like you had. I am happy that you were able to push through and find those tapes that set you on your inspiring journey. As to your blood pressure issues, this corroborates what you said about the Lord helping one get through a life-situation that He wants them to enter.

I really have no idea what God intends for me except to read/study/and apply your teaching, watch Pastor Omo's teaching and read the Bible. I finished my finance internship and am able to focus intently and that is the one activity that truly seems "right" these days. During the finance internship, the Holy Spirit made me realize that I hated the actual work and that buzz of pride-euphoria stemmed from the possibility of making a ton of money and bragging about it but nothing else. Not good motivating factors! Now I don't know what to do which makes me think that I am leaving an obligation unfulfilled to my parents since they pay for my degree while I do not have a concrete job plan. This has caused me to brainstorm different paths that could work and led to my military question.

The daily testing keeps coming, especially mentally. [omitted].

Is it okay for one to feel pride in growth of their Christian walk? Pride is a dangerous trait and I wonder if this is the right way to apply it if at all.

In Christ,

Response #3:

It is a bit unnerving to be wondering about "direction forward" when it comes to careers. The Lord is with us in this process, however, if we are walking with Him. When I went off to seminary, I had intended, just because it seemed the natural path, to become ordained in the Presbyterian Church of which my dad was a pastor and in which I had grown up. But a year in seminary and beginning the "care" process and interning with a church made it very clear to me that this was not going to work. The group with which I was really associated had no system and nothing more than a loose association of small churches which were deliberately not connected to it in a denominational way. So it was clear, once I couldn't go the way I first considered that another way would have to be found. I had enjoyed the Classics B.A. I got after the USMC and had given up a graduate slot to go to seminary in the first place. So I applied to a graduate program in the area – the only one. And it was the only application I put in. And I didn't spend much time about it or give it much thought. But I got in. And not only that: I got a scholarship which supported me through teaching pretty much all the way through. That was definitely the Lord all the way (and I'm a little embarrassed now about my somewhat cavalier approach to something so important), but God worked it out.

So I have no doubt that He's working it out for you too. The what and the where and the how and many other questions may be up in the air at the moment, but they will become clear soon enough. It's a blessing that He's already rescued you FROM a career that would have killed your soul; in due time He'll bring you INTO what's next and what's right. That lag between the two is where the test that builds muscle on our faith comes in.

On "pride", there's nothing wrong with feeling good about things that are worth feeling good about. As long as we are rejoicing in the Lord that He provided them, and have no doubt about that fact and accept that in all humility that it is Him and not us, by all means "rejoice always" (1Thes.5:16; Phil.4:3).

On the mental battle, from the way you've addressed this I assume you've already bumped into the numerous, pertinent files on this important topic at Ichthys (let me know if you need links). The main things I would want to point out are that 1) the Lord is well aware of what you are going through – it's all in the plan, after all; 2) He has provided you with everything you need for victory – the Holy Spirit within you is God . . . and nothing is more powerful than God (of course, we have to acquiesce to His leadership); 3) it's hard to beat something with nothing – which is why scripture gives clear guidance on this issue that aggressive spiritual growth and the application of truth are the keys:

(1) Therefore since you have been resurrected [positionally] with Christ, keep seeking after the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Keep thinking on the things above, and not the things on the earth.
Colossians 3:1-2

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

When you are doing Bible study, this is probably no problem; when you are praying – and concentrating – this is probably no problem. But whenever you are mentally drifting, that can be a problem. We all have different internals but we are all tempted and we – as advancing believers – are all being observed and attacked by the forces of evil. So when not directly involved in things which are inherently good (like Bible study, Bible reading, and prayer), then it's important to do what these verses tell us to do. David did not have the permanent indwelling of the Spirit, but it's obvious from his psalms that he was very focused on the Lord and the glories of the truth probably most of the time (I can think of one time when he was not and it had long-lasting negative consequences). This is a good habit worthy of cultivating. If nothing else, memorizing key and favorite passages of scripture and calling them to mind when there's a vacuum is a good thing. In time, one finds oneself walking closer with the Lord Jesus Christ and being more and more occupied with Him. But it will always be a fight this side of the resurrection. So we have to learn how to fight this fight (there is a great deal about all this in BB 6A in additional to many posted email responses).

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend. Please do let me know how it goes.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Good morning,

I was hoping to ask you a question: In the NT it says not to do coarse jesting and similar things. By itself, I would put satire and sarcasm under that. But there are some places in the OT where God seems to use both. I suppose this is one of those things that are not absolute (absolute meaning to never use either), but instead to be circumspect about it and that it is not for every situation. For example, maybe you wouldn't be sarcastic at someone's funeral, but maybe in an article to get a point across. What do you think?

Did you know that at one point the entrance requirement for getting into Harvard was knowing Latin and Greek. This was BEFORE getting in. I always admired the founder's education. Some of them walked miles for A book. Some of them taught themselves languages. I mean I don't know how many were true believers, but I do admire that part.

Response #4:

The Greek word at Ephesians 5:4 refers to joking in an inappropriate way (scatological, sexual, etc.). There are certainly many other ways to "sin with the tongue", however, so the things you mention are not to be considered "OK" just because this word does not address them (cf. Jas.3:2ff.). See the link: "eutrapelia".

Yes, we've gone from the point of Greek and Latin being required to me being "the last man standing" at our entire university, and having to be ready to jump into a foxhole at a moment's notice. Just another sign of the "interesting" times we live in.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:


Response #5:

First, let me assure you that you are under NO obligation to "report" to me. We are all accountable to the Lord, not to any human being. And we are all forgiven when we confess to Him (1Jn.1:9); confessing to human beings doesn't accomplish anything positive but can be very negative for a great variety of reason.

Second, some perspective on this would be good. I have been doing this ministry a long time and have been in contact with many young man over the years, some preparing for ministry as you are doing, most merely trying to grow spiritually and please the Lord. It's fair to say that almost every one of them who has shared items of a personal nature with me has had to deal with this particular "problem" – being unmarried. This, of course, is why Paul counsels marriage for most people (1Cor.7:2-9). As I've mentioned before, in Paul's day, this was also generally less of a problem because of arranged marriages, even in the case of believers. It's also the case that our society has pushed back the "normal" age for marriage far past the point where it used to be, past not only high school and four years of college but also sometimes past graduate school or the equivalent – this has become a common pattern. So it's not unusual to find men of your age who would like to get married not being married in our society today, but that was not the case in Paul's day nor even in this society until relatively recent times. Add to that the fact that our culture is awash with porneia in all of its media and we have a toxic cocktail that makes if very difficult for young people to stay chaste (or anyone else who's not married, for that matter). So in terms of this particular testing, you should not view it "as though something strange were happening to you" (1Pet.4:12). Temptation related to porneia is one of the devil's favorite and most effective ways of rendering otherwise fine and upstanding Christians hors de combat. It's not surprising that you are having to fight this fight.

That said, just because it's more difficult perhaps than at any time in history doesn't mean that it's not a fight that has to be fought . . . and won.

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."
Genesis 4:7 NIV

We have the Holy Spirit within us and we are under no obligation whatsoever to respond to the temptations to sin that beset us. So if we are not having success resisting, we need to take responsibility for that and then take the next step of doing whatever is necessary to win the fight. I think in your case this may be especially important to consider. Since you are on the cusp of having more free time and more energy, one can expect this fight to get harder, not easier. That is just the way the sin nature operates, taking advantage whenever there is slack in the system, so to speak. So you might want to consider a rigorous system of exercise as part of your daily routine. It would also be good to take measures to avoid anything that contributes to weakening your resolve. Most importantly, however, is the principle of spiritual offense vs. defense. Resisting alone will usually mean eventual defeat. What we all need to be doing is advancing more aggressively day by day. If you are in the process of doing "good things" you will be less likely to be tempted effectively while doing so.

I do understand that this is difficult for you. But nothing is impossible for the Spirit who dwells in you. Remember that. I am praying for the Lord to work this out for you. I have no inside information about His plans for your life (aside from general things: growth, progress and production). But I do know that He loves you and has good things in store for you (Jer.29:11; Rom.8:28). If that includes the right spouse, it will happen in His perfect time. We know for certain that we can trust Him, no matter what. Please take pains to walk in that complete trust.

Finally, I'm no medical doctor nor therapist, so I can't give any specific advice on this. I would be surprised if medication is the answer. In my life experience, everyone I've ever met seems to have had some "issues"; psych departments are still in the process of giving all these issues names. Fixation on the past is, as I've said before, never a good idea. So once we have confessed, we need to move on from sin and failure, ever looking to the glorious future in Jesus Christ, and striving to do what He has for us in the meantime, one day at a time.

Keeping you in my prayers day by day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:


Response #6:

Yes, I was talking about physical exercise which most people feel is very helpful in this regard.

Application of the truth is necessary both to ward off what is wrong and embrace what is right. The most powerful thing we are given as human being is our image of God, our free will. We have the right to say "yes"; we also have the right to say "no". This is life in a nutshell from the divine point of view. As believers, we make the big yes/no decision when we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior. After that, our lives are all about how much and how often we say "yes" to the good things God wants us to do and how often we say "no" to the bad things God doesn't want us to do. There is a lot of middle ground too, especially in the early going, but the farther along the road believers get, the more everything begins to boil down to "yes" or "no". To the extent that we reverse the "right answer" (and we always know what that is through the Spirit), to that extent we hinder our growth and minimize our reward; but to the extent that we keep saying "yes" to the good and "no" to the bad, we maximize our growth and build up a wonderful eternal reward that glorifies our Lord.

On specifics, I certainly wouldn't want to weigh in on this beyond reminding you of what you already know. If the Lord has someone in mind for you, I'm quite sure He will have no problem bringing you together: He brought Eve to Adam, after all. If you know for a fact that person X is not the right one, could not be the right one, and will only mean trouble, then you know very well that it would be much better to have nothing to do with person X. Exercise is great (I've suggested more of it); situations that torment you are something else again. If a person can learn to "drink one glass of wine" and never get drunk, no problem. If a person has proven over and over again that for him or her there is no stopping at one, then not starting in the first place is a better approach (if you see what I mean). Basic principle: if you can't handle it, don't get close to it; if you can handle it, go ahead, but that doesn't mean you don't have to be careful.

The Lord has a plan for you, and it seems to me that it involves teaching the Word of God to others. That is an awesome responsibility. One reason for that is that, like it or not, it makes you a role model to those you teach (e.g., 1Tim.3:2-6; Tit.1:5-9).

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.
Titus 2:7 NIV

We are not unaware of the devil's schemes (2Cor.2:11). He always seeks to discredit the leaders first. If he can discredit, compromise, or otherwise throw off track prospective teachers at an early stage, he need not even worry later about discrediting their teaching (since they may never get to that point). So this is serious business. I can't tell you whether or not the Lord's will for you is to have a wife or to stay single. You are the only one who can figure that out. But it is abundantly clear how a man is supposed to behave before that point. Through plenty of life observation, the percentage of men who fall into this trap is large. As with all sin, there can be recovery. But as with all deadly traps, sometimes that hard road is successfully negotiated, sometimes not, but it is never easy. So it's much better not to fall off the main road and over the cliff in the first place. And if a person is wandering off the road and smashing through the brush instead, he/she may very well find themselves going over the hidden cliff sooner than expected. Better to stick the main road. It's narrow and steep – but it leads to all things good.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend. I'm excited to see how the Lord prepares you and makes use of you for the edification of the Bride He loves so much.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Good evening Sir,

How is work, how is the family and how are you? I trust everything and everyone is okay to the Glory of our Lord.

I pray for you everyday. I thank Our Lord for you everyday. If not for __ and you I don’t know where I would have been today. Thank you Sir for ichthys. Thank you for your commitment, dedication and diligence. Thank you for sharing free of charge the most important information in the world. Our Lord will continue to bless you and fill you with all wisdom and discernment.

Thank you Sir.

Response #7:

Delightful to hear from you, my friend!

Thanks for your good words and wishes, and prayers most of all.

I'm very happy to have heard __'s good news, and am continuing to pray for you both for things to work for you blessedly in all matters (and for you families too).

In my experience, it's very rare for someone who loves the Lord to be blessed with a life partner who has the same zeal for the truth, so the two of you are extremely blessed indeed! And I thank the Lord for it.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Bob, hello brother, how are you?

I can't help but shoot you an email to ask your perspective on a matter. What do you believe about celebrating these "holidays" Christmas and Easter? All I was able to find on your site was a statement that said something along the lines of if people wish to celebrate worldly holidays fine.

When I was saved I thought that holidays shouldn't be celebrated; now the lines are blurred. There's a lot of information on them all having deep pagan roots, which I believe, but don't know to which extent because general info. found on google these days is shady.

I'm sure Jesus wasn't born on December 25th and the idea of Santa Claus is blasphemous. Also whether eggs and bunnies are truly in honor of a sex goddess or not, they have nothing to due with our Messiah or the Bible.

Though i know that the Crucifixion and Resurrection were more or less around this time, is it wrong to celebrate "Easter" as the Resurrection day in honor of this?

Any insight or information on this stuff would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, God bless!

Response #8:

For me, everyday is Easter – the day of the resurrection – because I look forward to ours every day. More to the point, every day is Good Friday, because remembering what Jesus did for us in dying for all of our sins when we were incapable of paying for a single one is the key to everything and the reason why we are here.

If others want to make some days special, I try not to throw a stumbling block in their way (Rom.14:1ff.); but I'm also not going to bullied into seeing things differently from the way I see them or saying that things are other than they are (Gal.4:9-11). Some links:

Christmas and Easter

Celebration of Christmas

Is it Valid to Celebrate Christmas?

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

I think maybe I have been failing the Laodicea test (of plentiful lifestyle). I mean, of course, by general standards (obviously if one compares oneself to Bill Gates, but that would not make sense). I will try to do better.

Response #9:

Having plenty is no sin in and of itself. What we do with what God has blessed us with may be a temptation; it was for Solomon, it seems (not as much so for David).

Last I heard, you were not exactly rivaling Bill Gates (read maximum understatement here).

As my maternal grandmother was fond of saying, "blessed be [having] nothing!" That does simplify things, at least.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:


Response #10:

I'm sorry to hear this.

One often doesn't know about the departed. Sometimes the Lord gives us indications of reassurance in the case of loved ones. But we're all here to make "the decision" (and then all of the others that follow in train if we choose the right path). Sometimes believers do make this mistake of taking their own lives. The Bible tells us of Saul, for example. So we can pray for those who are still here, still fighting the fight, and pray for the loved ones and friends of those who have departed. But once we are on the other side, there is no more intervention from those here below. Rather, those above are cheering us on, basking in the glory of the Father and the Son. I certainly hope that such is the case with your ___'s friend. I will say a prayer for friends and family.

In Jesus our merciful Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:


Response #11:

You are right this is all about the choice, the race – we are here to show we love and appreciate the Lord . . . or ourselves.

This the main prism through which I see this issue that is exercising you. It's very clear what the Bible states on the issue. So what? That only matters to people who care what the Bible says – who care what the Lord thinks. As with any pattern of gross sinfulness, being involved in this behavior is enormously self-destructive. As far as I am concerned, I try to love everyone, and I also try to be straight with everyone – everyone who is asking me about the truth. But it is not our job, in my opinion, to go out there and ram truth down the throats of those who have already rejected it (Matt.7:6). And if we do meet someone who seems to be open to the truth, the truth they need to hear is that Jesus died for them and that life eternal is open to them if only they accept the Gift of Him. If they do that, everything else will eventually fall into place – because if we really do love Him, sooner or later we will be led to do what He wants us to do and throw overboard everything that is displeasing to Him. And it has to go that way, not the other way around. We can't save people by having them whitewash the tomb first. First they have to rise from the dead; then they can abandon the tomb altogether.

In an earlier generation in my country the issue that was exercising church goers was that of alcohol. Alcohol was a terrible problem that was ruining lives and marriages and turning people away from Christ. If only we could get rid of alcohol, things would be so much better for everyone! This crusade led to Prohibition – which did not get rid of alcohol, or drunks, or save marriages, or lead people to Christ . . . but it did ruin many legitimate businesses and gave us organized crime instead.

People are saved, one person at a time. And they are saved not because of what we do – though we may be blessed to have a share in their salvation; they are saved because they respond from the heart to the gracious message of the gospel presented perhaps by us but made clear in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They are saved by saying "yes!" to God – or as I sometimes put it, by not saying "no!" to His offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

There are many positions, political and social and philosophical and even "theological" and religious, which bespeak hardness of heart. And there are many behaviors – not only this one but also any gross sexual misconduct, substance abuse, and of course lustful ambition for wealth, power, fame – which likewise bespeak hearts which have already rejected the truth. God can break through any hardened heart and shine the light of the truth therein, but the person him/herself has to choose to respond. For those who do, there is life eternal in Jesus Christ. For those who reject the Gift of gifts, finding some sort of drug (literal or metaphorical) to "get through" his life without having to deal with the uncomfortable reality of what happens to those for whom an eternity with the Lord is not a preferred option is exactly what we should expect. So when it comes to many socially conservative crusaders in this country, I can say with a great degree of certainty that many of them are looking at an eternal destiny no different from those involved in the behaviors they abhor – even if the Lord's Name is often on their lips. Why? Because in many cases they are also not born again / born from above, but are harboring in their hearts the same sort of selfish arrogance which cannot abide subordination to the Son of God. They have merely chosen a works route to getting through life rather than a self-indulgent one. But it's all abominable to the Lord.

So I don't "preach against alcohol", for example. I tell people who are interested what the Bible has to say about it, not papering over the warnings about abusing it or dismissing legitimate concerns a person should have. And as you point out, anyone involved in this issue that concerns you likewise knows very well in their heart the damage it's doing, knows very well what the Bible has to say, and knows very well that by indulging they are flouting God's authority. That is never a good idea. He never warns us off of good things, only bad ones. He didn't tell Adam and Eve to stay away from the tree of knowing good and evil to deprive them . . . but out of love. He loves us all. Jesus died for us all. He died for all these sins we fret about and all the ones we don't even notice – any one of which would be enough to cast us into the lake of fire forever if He hadn't died for every single one of them.

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4 NKJV

So in a way, it's a good thing that these opportunities for loving the world exist. Jesus died that all might be saved and the Father wants all to be saved. But to be saved, we have to respond to Him instead of to the world; we have to love Him, not the world (1Jn.2:15-17; cf. Matt.16:24). These temptations – everyone of them out there in the world and whatever tempts us personally – present the other side of the choice in an analogous manner to Adam and Eve. We can choose to reenter paradise, or we can choose to stay out here in this nasty, evil, ugly, temporary world which is nothing in the end but lust, rust and dust. It's not much of a choice, especially with a universal mortality rate, so it is for that reason the most merciful choice of all: if a person can choose death, darkness and damnation over life, light and redemption – all because of an unwillingness to submit to the Lord's Way and a desire instead to hew to their own way – then their eternal fate is hardly an accident.

Naturally, if I had a magic wand I would remove this particular sin and temptation completely – and others too. But I think we'd find in that case that people would discover other ways to choose self over Jesus Christ. We all have to choose how to use this god-like image of God we've been given. We can use it to give ourselves over to the Lord in gratitude for what He's done for us, returning it to Him, so to speak; or we can greedily use it entirely for ourselves with no appreciation for His death on our behalf and with no intention of ever bowing the knee to Him unless forced to do so. In the end, this latter is the choice made by the vast majority of the human race, so that a prim and proper church-going crusader who decries obvious and gross sinful conduct (but is a self-righteous unbeliever in his/her heart of hearts) is no better off than the conflicted self-destructive wretch addicted to sex or substance or ambition abuse, pursuing a myth-happiness never to be grasped through this disastrous course – and, you know, the latter might even be a little bit closer to being saved than the former, if only because of the undeniable and utterly obvious futility of the course upon which they have embarked. God knows just how to bring the sinner to the Savior . . . for all who are willing in the end to be saved.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:


Response #12:

Good to hear back from you, my friend. Thank you for your thoughtful essay.

I certainly didn't mean to give you the impression that I took offense. I appreciate you sharing these concerns. My job as a teacher of the Word, one part of it anyway, is to try and protect anyone in this flock who seems to be in any sort of danger. And one of the most dangerous things in our current world is taking up for the truth in a social or political way instead of in a personal and biblical way. Some verses I quote frequently on this point:

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
Psalm 12:8 NIV85

Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
Isaiah 59:15a NIV

Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
Amos 5:13 NIV

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
Proverbs 22:3 NIV

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
Matthew 7:6 NKJV

So in terms of how dangerous this behavior is, how contrary to scripture, how spiritually destructive, how bad for all and sundry, we have no disagreement. The question is "what to do about it", and it was here that I was focusing (apologies if I wasn't able to make that clear enough). Someone who is engaging is this behavior or, worse, justifying it or, worse, attacking those who don't join in justifying it, is likely already so hardened of heart that nothing short of divine intervention is likely to be able to break through that shell of defense against the truth (this is the very example of hardness Paul uses in Romans chapter one, after all). And if there isn't going to be a response, one can see why the Lord may not choose to break through this hardening of choice. It's impossible to live in this world and not know and know of many individual who are clearly confirmed unbelievers, whether engaging in dangerous behaviors or acting as "model citizens". In either case, since they have self-hardened out of choice (see the link), nothing we can say or do is likely to have the slightest impact. What we might be able to do, however, is anger them, and that might have unnecessary repercussions for us – which is why the Lord told us not to cast pearls before those whose "swine-or-not" status was not in any doubt: "lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces" (Matt.7:6 NKJV).

So I'm actually only trying to protect you. How we negotiate these things is always difficult. In my experience it's not too difficult to let people know which side you are on in terms of standing with the Lord or not, without at the same time preaching to them at length and to no effect (except to irritate them). As it says in Proverbs, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Prov.25:11). With a little spiritual common sense – and the help of the Holy Spirit, if we listen to Him – we will find a way to insert the truth at strategic times where we not only make it clear where we stand but also perhaps land a blow for the truth that is actually helpful. It does take practice and no one ever gets it completely right, but we do need to remember that the truth is for those who love the truth and want the truth, "but to those on the outside everything is said in parables" (Mar.4:11 NIV).

Keeping you and yours in my prayers every day.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Thank you brother. Sorry for the late response. I want to reach out to you on some topics soon, I just feel like I need to try and understand some stuff on my own right now.

I do have a question that I've wondered about though and I think you're the perfect person to answer it. I have no doubt that fornication is a sin, but I've read in multiple places that where it is used in the Bible it comes from the Greek word "porneia" which means prostitution or sexual immorality, so I wonder why the liberty was taken to translate it to fornication if that is correct?

Blessing in Jesus' name

Response #13:

Good to hear back from you.

On your question, porneia is a generic word in the NT, used almost as a euphemism at times in order not to have to spell out multitudinous varieties of sexual sin. Sometimes it is used with the specialized meaning "prostitution", but more often the generic meaning applies. So "sexual immorality" would be correct. As to the translation, "fornication", this word in English while likewise having a specialized meaning is – or was – also very often used in a generalized sense, so my guess is that this is what the (e.g.) KJV translators had in mind when they used it. If they had translated "prostitution" in every case where porneia occurs, that would have been incorrect and dangerously misleading (inasmuch as there are obviously all manner of acts of sexual immorality which do not necessarily involve prostitution). Also, of course, the KJV was done hundreds of years ago, and while the vocabulary for the most part is recognizable, the nuances of words are ever in flux – one of the reasons why translation is a challenging business which is never going to be perfect.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Interesting, thank you for that explanation. So let me ask you this, why do you think that nowhere is it directly stated that sex outside of marriage is prohibited? I believe that 1 Corinthians 7:2 basically tells us that, yet this seems to be a very important matter yet it is not spelled out, I could say the same about a man having multiple wives?

With love in our Lord Jesus

Response #14:

Some things that are clearly wrong, it is true, are not spelled out in scripture, usually because there is no need (as in the case of abortion) or because it was not an issue at the time the NT was written (as in the case of drug abuse). But that's surely not the case in terms of sexual promiscuity – all sexual activity outside of marriage is immoral and condemned by scripture, e.g.:

Flee from sexual immorality (porneia). All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
1st Corinthians 6:18 NIV

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (porneia); that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1st Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV

As to polygamy, this institution, as with slavery, is something which the Bible through case study shows is "a bad idea", but it was allowed in the OT no doubt in part because it was widely practiced and not sinful per se. It's a moot point for us today since it's illegal almost everywhere. Here are a couple of links on that:

Marriage in the Bible

Polygamy 1

Polygamy 2

Husband of but one wife

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Teacher,

First and foremost I want to thank you for your in-depth, free teachings on the Christian faith as I sincerely appreciate them. They have brought me closer to Christ.

Recently, I have had internal doubts about my career path as I have learned more about the truth of the scriptures. I am a university student who has pursued a finance career, garnering a well-paid internship with an investment fund this summer. However, this hedge fund speculates in community bank stocks, capitalizing on the consolidation of this sector. My primary concern is on the sin of usury, and the passive way this fund promotes this sin by trading in banking stocks. Community banks usually do not engage in consumer lending to the poor but my vocation worries me because I am afraid of upsetting Him. The benefits to this job are obvious: I will be able to maintain a traditional Christian home by allowing my future wife to stay at home and teach the children. Also, I will have more free time and resources to deepen my faith and help other Christians. I was wondering what you thought about the upsides and downsides to this morally-suspect career.

This question also applies too many other morally-suspect jobs in the commercial sector such as working for a tech company that promotes homosexuality etc... The commercial world has become very anti-Christ and anti-God in its ways. Is working for a company that does not share our values a sin?

Thank you.

Response #15:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your encouraging words about this ministry. Apologies for the delay. Saturday is "posting day" so I usually on catch up on Sunday.

As to your question, first, as I always try to remember to point out, when it comes to points of application such as this one, that is to say, questions and issues which are tied inextricably to a person's individual circumstances, only the person in question – guided by the Spirit – is really in a position to know what's right and / or what's best. Second, the Spirit really is the Person to consult on this, and as you probably know from reading into this ministry, just because I may feel worried about something or guilty about something doesn't mean that this is the Spirit speaking. His small, still voice speaks to our spirits but does so by utilizing the truth we have learned and committed to our hearts by faith. So whenever we have application questions like this, consulting the scriptures and weighing things in terms of everything we know about the truth – as you are doing – is always a good idea.

Usury has to do with Mosaic Law, and Israel was told not to charge it in regard to personal loans to other members of Israel – but it was allowed in regard to the gentiles. In any case, we are not the nation of Israel (even if we happen to be Jewish Christians), and these points of the Law are no longer in force (even if in many cases they would be good standards to adopt).

One set of facts to keep in mind as you ponder this decision is that we are all responsible to work for a living on the one hand, and on the other hand in this day and age with the economy and the society structured as it is, it would be virtually impossible to find any job or profession where there is not some area which could not be said to be "compromised" in some small way. If I am a waiter, do I serve drinks to individuals I know or can see are being done no good by this? If I am a teacher, some of the material I am called upon to teach may have the potential to be abused or taken the wrong way by those I am teaching. One could go on and on (almost anything in media or entertainment would give me personal heartburn). Clearly, we want nothing to do with criminal enterprises, and there are also "legitimate" businesses and companies from which we might prefer to steer clear. But for the most part, honorable companies playing by the rules would seem to me to be worthy of consideration – since we have to have a job; and anyone who says or thinks that their particular business or profession or company is completely without blemish on this score clearly hasn't looked into things very closely.

It seems to me that charging interest is part and parcel of the way that this society works. Do I think that as a believer starting a "pay day lending" company which by design charges 400% is a dubious proposition? Yes indeed. Even the Mafia doesn't get that (though their default rate is probably lower). But when it comes to "reasonable" interest, well, that's pretty hard to avoid. I have a checking account and I need it to function and pay my bills. It pays interest. I earn about 15 cents a year. Not enough to bother about – but it is still interest. My university's retirement is a 403b system. Most of what I have is in stock funds – but every once in a while, checking the prospectuses, I see that even total stock funds always have a few percentage points of their holdings in bonds. Point being, getting charged and charging interest in this society is impossible to avoid.

Finally, there is the point of personal comfort – which has a spiritual dimension. There are many things in this life I could have done but have passed up because I just didn't feel comfortable with them – not passing judgment that they were quintessentially wrong but just not right for me. Something can be defensible to do as a Christian and still not something Christian A feels good about, even if Christian B has no problem with it. We are told in such instances not to pass judgment on our brothers in the case of such "disputable matters" (Rom.14:1; 15:1-2), and in terms of our own application and decisions, we have to act out of faith (Rom.14:23; cf. Jas.4:17). One aspect of that of course is indeed also the culture of the organization one is considering joining. If it's going to make us spiritually uncomfortable, then perhaps waiting for the next opportunity is not the worst idea.

I'm confident that the Lord can guide you to and give you confidence about the course that's right for you.

Congratulations on being offered this internship!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:


My apologies as well for the delay. My email did not work all week.

Thank you so much for your prompt response and thorough advice. This really clarifies my mind on this matter and brings me much inner peace and comfort. Ultimately, I think my misgivings might stem from placing too much thought on money/material possessions over God and not trusting him 100% to take care of me. I feel sometimes that I need an X amount of money to achieve an X amount of security. I know this is an irrational fear considering His power and grace, but I still need to work on this. How do you practice submitting to His holy will and trusting in him completely?

I really agree with you about the "clean" career comments. It really is hard to find companies or job paths without a blemish. We just have to do the best we can with what we feel comfortable with.

In addition, I will learn more about the Holy Spirit as I feel like my understanding about this is incomplete. I will be sure to continue using Ichthys.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

P.S: Is there a link where I can donate, I could not find one on the website.

Response #16:

You're most welcome, my friend. I don't think anyone "in the body" is exempt from the pressures of "sweat of the brow" issues. As we grow spiritually, we still feel them, but the reality we can't see becomes ever more important and ever more real to us than the one confronting our fleshly eyes daily. The answer is spiritual growth, so, yes, please do continue to keep on with Ichthys – or some other in-depth teaching ministry; I also recommend Bible Academy at the link.

As to donations, there are reasons why this ministry does not solicit them (see the link: FAQ #9: "Can I make a contribution?"); but Bible Academy is a very worthy substitute on that point as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I hope you are doing well! How are you and your family? I have been keeping you and your family in my prayers. I hope you are enjoying some vacation time this summer or at least a slower pace than during the school year.

Thank you so much for answering my questions about the role of women in the Bible back at the end of April. Before sending this I realized I had forgotten to send you a response letting you know that I received your email and thanking you at that time. I apologize! I am going to add your responses to my notes and I will write back if I need any clarification on anything (I probably will).

I do have a several questions about concubines in the ancient Middle East: How were concubines different from wives? Are concubines different from slave girls? I did a quick internet search and many sites said they were more like “slave wives.” And that in these polygamous families the wives had more rights and authority over the concubines. So, were women commonly sold into sexual slavery? I know this happened to men too in the pagan nations (the male shrine prostitutes the Hebrews called “dogs”). Were these men always having sex with the concubines? When the Bible says Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, was he carrying on sexual relations with all of them? That seems physically impossible…but maybe not if they are being totaled over the course of his entire lifetime. What was the point of “acquiring” them? What did they do for the king? Were there any other duties than to provide sex? What was their relationship to him?

The way the different cultures of the ancient middle east treat marriage, sexual relations, family and the laws regulating these things are so different from our culture even though people are the same and have all of the same sinful sexual behaviors. It helps to understand how much of the Mosaic Law was designed to “regulate” these practices.

Also, I am so excited about the Ichthys Fellowship Group. I have quite a few questions to send you soon about Genesis and the temptation of Adam and Eve that relate to some of the topics others have posted. As always, your email Q/A posting this week was so timely and relevant to what I am studying! It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit does that and I know it happens with your other sheep studying under you.

In Christ's Love,

Response #17:

Thanks for your prayers. Prayers for next semester would be greatly appreciated!

On your question, here's what I read in scripture:

When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.
Deuteronomy 17:14-17 NKJV

Solomon violated every one of these restrictions, and spectacularly so. And we know that it was his multiple liaisons with foreign women that had a great deal to do with his heart turning away from fully following the Lord (1Ki.11:1-10). This tells me all I need to know about polygamy and concubines. Even if "legal" as was the case in Israel, it was always a bad idea, even to have "only" two wives (cf. Hannah and her rival -- no happiness in that household).

I'm thrilled that the "group" is up and running and that you are benefiting from it!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for the quick response about the concubines and the reminder that God commanded the future kings of Israel to “not multiply wives” and directly connected that action with the danger of apostasy - and He commanded them long before they came possess the land. I will definitely continue to keep everyone in my prayers especially your position at the university.

What amazes me about Solomon is how much foolishness and wisdom could play out in the life of one believer. Was there a difference between the wisdom that God gave Solomon as a younger man and the wisdom we find in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes? Was one more like “general knowledge” about the world, how to rule, nature, etc but the other wisdom was the kind God gives through experience? I am making my way through Curt’s Proverbs study supplemented by Unger’s notes. So far in the beginning chapters there are so many verses warning about the dangers of adultery and sexual immorality, which is exactly what took Solomon’s heart away from the Lord.

Proverbs 31 especially contrasts the godly woman with the ones King Lemuel’s mother warned him about. Who was King Lemuel? He is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture as a king of Israel. Is it a symbolic name for Solomon or is he a fictitious literary construct?

In Christ's love.

Response #18:

You're most welcome.

Yes, Solomon is an interesting case indeed. His life experience is a great reminder that knowledge – even knowledge believed – is no guarantee that someone will make the right choices. Solomon made some wonderful decisions and was given to write magnificent scripture, but he clearly also made some horrible decisions and in spectacular fashion (no half measures in anything he did). To be fair, on the one hand, it's not as if any of us today is exempt from messing up from time to time; and on the other hand, Solomon had the means to exploit his lusts that few people before or since have possessed. Being an all-powerful king with no enemies to speak of and a wildly prosperous kingdom put him in a unique historical position. So I'm not sure any of us would have done so much differently (though we like to think so). He certainly is food for thought, and a verification of what my maternal grandmother is reputed to have often said: "Blessed be [having] nothin'!".

Lemuel is a family name for Solomon (cf. "Jack" for "John", etc.). This can be seen from the closeness in the sound and spelling, e.g., as well as from the context of Proverbs and what we know about Solomon's life. He received great advice from his mother as well as from scripture.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Professor

I pray for your well being in your family, your profession, personal life and in your Ministry.

I know I have bought up the topic of music in the past and I hope you will allow me to indulge a question or so. Is there any evidence from scripture in any passage that conversion or coming to Christ being immediately preceded or accompanied by music?

I am told at the Franklin Graham Crusade/Concert many “came to Christ”. (Accompanied by a band called something and the Planet Shakers) Huge sound effects. Subsequently, and more locally , 2 souls “came to Christ”. Accompanied by heart moving personal stories and music and singing.

I am not saying it is not possible for this to happen, but what of the scriptural evidence? I am sceptical at the moment but open to scriptural guidance. One negative example came to mind from our Bible study group from the book of Daniel of the golden image worship being preceded by pomp, ceremony and all sorts of music to promote obeisance to the image. The group did not seem to make the same connection as I did, to the music being a big factor.

From personal experience, I had many years ago, attended a “growth type seminar” where we were all hyped up on music, and told that we could do amazing things due to the stuff released in our brains (endorphins or something). Then barefooted, most of us walked across hot coals. With the “music heightening” we could believe almost anything was possible AND made us open to suggestion we otherwise would probably not contemplate.

For instance, at the day of Pentecost was music, and more particularly “rousing music” a factor? Acts 2:1-13 (v13 mockers said “they are filled with new wine” - - something akin to our “seminar feeling” - - new wine feeling, that is) (v2 has “a sound like a mighty rushing wind”. I do not see this sound related to music as such, or is it?). What about other conversions, did the band “heighten” any as a warmer up? The Ethiopian eunuch? My questions also remind me, that today I spoke with the woman who could not afford her tithing - she is not going to that church anymore - she just wants somewhere to sing songs in a group, when she feels a bit depressed and needs lifting up.

Plenty of time for this one. The cold/flu making it a bit hard to get to sleep and this has been on my mind from recent events.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior

Response #19:

Just seeing this email now. For some reason my server didn't forward it (but I've been having some trouble with the website; thanks in advance if you notice any problems such as non-responded to emails or site unavailability).

As usual, your spiritual instincts are correct. The example you thought of from Daniel is wonderful. I had never thought of that, but indeed it demonstrates that wild displays of music in "religious" contexts are not necessarily godly.

No, I know of no instance whatsoever where music accompanies the giving of the gospel in scripture. Instances of music even being mentioned in the NT are rare; in the OT it was a part of the temple worship and highly regulated.

Music has a great ability to stimulate the emotions, but emotions not directed to a good end or misdirected to a bad one are dangerous. One of the problems with the music-intensive proclivity of the present day church-visible is that it makes ALL spiritual experience music-dependent. In the USMC, "boom boxes" were all the rage among the enlisted when I was in service, and we used to joke about it and call them "life support systems", the idea being of course that certain individuals didn't manifest any confidence in survival without their "tunes". Similarly, if a Christian's walk with the Lord and any positive feeling about Him is tied absolutely to music, what happens when the music stops? As I have observed, many Christians who are wildly praising God on Sunday are often down in the dumps on Monday. Why? Because as you remark the high has worn off. This is not the way we have learned Christ (Eph.4:20). Only the truth can give a Christian the spiritual sticking power to endure Tribulation, and only if it is believed and applied in the Spirit. It's not an easy road to get to such spiritual maturity, but music does not contribute to the journey at all. It may – for believers who are already mature – produce moments of joy (but even here a person can easily over-indulge and develop a dependency). As I often say also, it's "the words" that matter in terms of Christian hymns, and because non-inspired individuals write hymns they are all always "off" to some degree (some MUCH more than others). So from my point of view using music for evangelism is even more dangerous because the music is likely to be sending an incomplete or slightly incorrect message – while if I give the gospel verbally I'm confident I can quote scripture correctly. For unbelievers to be attracted to the hoopla and the "wow factor" of a big musical production is not exactly the simple truth about Jesus Christ. If they are saved anyway, that is great; but if they are given the wrong impression about what following Him really ought to entail – or if a dependency is developed from the inception – that is all to the bad.

I am saddened by the example of a woman who is not able to go to church because of tithing. That speaks very poorly of the church-visible today. I pray she'll be led to the actual truth and can grow in the truth (Ichthys doesn't charge, as you know, and Bible Academy is free for the listening as well at the link).

Hope you feel better soon, my friend – and thanks so much for all your prayers.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

How are you doing? I am doing okay. I really liked your most recent post on ICHTHYS! (Not that I didn't like the previous ones of course).

I was hoping to ask a question of honorifics. I am certainly no Catholic, but I know they have titles that it is considered disrespectful for the laity not to use. The traditional side of me wants to be respectful and polite, but then the religious soul rears back from titles like 'your worship' and others that seem a bit much. I suppose it would be rude to simply address them as sir or ma'am. And this isn't including titles of those in charge of other religions. What do you think the correct thing for us to do it?

Anyway, I hope your are well. Please take care,

[omitted questions about women serving in the military]

Response #20:

Here's what I read in scripture on this:

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:7 NIV

So I have no problem calling a judge "your honor", because he/she is a "minister of God" (Rom.13:6), whose job it is to maintain order in His stead (and they are worthy of the honor even if they are not doing a particularly good job in our view).

However, when it comes to someone who is not part of legitimate government, while we certainly do not wish to offend anyone or go out of our way to disrespect anyone, just because some "pastor" calls him/herself "Grand Holy Apostle of the Lamb" does not mean that we have to address them in that fashion (or "pope" or "father" or "deacon" or whatever). Since most of the examples I can think of based on your question have to do with religious organizations that are mainly Christian in name only, the situations where a truly godly Christian would even be in a position to have to worry about this are probably few and far between. If it came up, being polite and respectful – which never hurts with anyone – ought to be enough.

As to your other question, the .45s we used in the USMC had about eight to ten pounds of trigger pull; I'm pretty sure most women with the oomph to join the military could handle that. Actual combat (of which I was blessedly spared) is more about enduring suffering of all types (cold, hunger, strain, stress, fear, general annoyance on a high level); many women are pretty good at that too. Whether or not women generally "should" be in the military is a political decision. Whether or not "a particular" woman should be in the military is a personal one. For a Christian, all such decisions ought to put following the Lord and what He wants us to do with our lives in the forefront.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

I am not sure on your view of women in the military. I mean every branch I am aware of has easier physical standards for women. I mean that is what happened both in the JROTC and ROTC (actual officer commissioning) that I was part of (though the latter was only a bit over a year, it looks like there was a double standard the whole way through). So, I just really struggle with the idea that women can do the same job as a man. Also with all the transgender women suddenly breaking all the records in women's sports...I mean I find it kind of funny in a dark and ironic way. But it is important, because my excessive reading (so that I do know the traditional idea and some of the reasons for it) is an outlier, so when my age looks at how to serve God, we see the older gen telling us women to do what the men do, and bashing taking care of men and family. So you see the double bind we are in? I mean there are some churches that have a bit of that, but we do get a double messaging. I want to serve God, and not in the wrong way. It is hard, though just to figure out what it proper and not because of the double messaging. I mean, reading what you said, I might think, well women can handle being in other male positions like being a pastor (after all there was a verse in the Bible about women not putting on a man's armor). When I stand before Him, I will beg for His mercy in any mistakes I made and say that the elders didn't want to explain to us women, and often told us the wrong thing, and we had to reinvent the wheel as we went. I mean no offense my dear sir and friend, but it does feel that way sometimes.

Response #21:

I'm not advocating for anything. If a kingdom wants to have women serve in the armed forces, that is its business; my kingdom is the heavenly one. If a woman wants to serve in the army, that is her business; I encourage every Christian to listen to the Spirit and find the right way to serve the Lord meant for them individually.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:


It isn't that the other stuff is bad, just that I am not sure about it (please don't be offended). Not that it is wrong, just that I need to study it more. I just am wary of automatically assuming, although I do think you know a lot and have wisdom and it may just be I am ignorant of some things. But I have to go by conscience, right?

Response #22:

On the other issue, I can only tell you that sin of any kind is very dangerous. We all have unique, personal "sins that easily beset" (Heb.12:1); this one and ones related to it are particularly dangerous (1Cor.6:18). Gaining victory is not easy – but please do NOT even consider harming yourself (it wouldn't do any good anyway if Augustine's experience is to be believed). Gaining victory requires getting deadly serious about it. Sin such as this never yields to half-hearted resistance. And if a believer is not motivated to be deadly serious in resisting habitual and dangerous sin, believe me when I say that the Lord has all manner of means to "help us" (Heb.12:1ff.). This sort of thing is particularly difficult for young people, but at least young people have the prospect of finding a good Christian partner – if they are patient. So I counsel patience, trusting the Lord, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, I think I've said all I could ever say on this issue.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

I'm really close to the end of my study abroad. Just have some study guides to do this weekend, then finals Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and the flight back on Thursday (prayers appreciated). I'm probably going to type up all the blog posts that I haven't yet once I get home. I just ran out of time on the actual program.

I've been thinking recently about two related concepts: owning and training to use handguns, and martial arts classes.

I recall that we've talked about hobbies before: how they fit into the Christian life, the prudence in taking the middle road in all things, and so on. However, I don't recall ever discussing the idea of guns or martial arts explicitly. I'm getting close to the point of being able to finance things on my own without relying on my parents' money for all my activities. These are two that are on my shortlist (among others more mundane like photography and reading more), but I wish to consider them prudently before jumping into anything rashly.

Just to give you an idea of things bouncing around my head in the present:

Self defense, even lethal self-defense, is a justified Biblical concept under appropriate circumstances.
Individual citizens owning guns is legal in the United States; there are no legal issues in our country with the concept. (As opposed to much of the rest of the world). Since Christians are to follow the laws of the places they live, this factor is relevant.

Armed resistance to the Beast and his regime will be futile (and even spiritually harmful due to warped priorities about the purpose and nature of the Tribulation), so decisions in this sphere should be viewed as mostly independent from the coming Tribulation.

Self defense is not just knowing how to use a gun. What if your gun get knocked away? What if your shooting hand gets injured? What if there are too many innocent parties nearby for firearms to be a safe option to incapacitate a threat? Martial arts (striking, grappling, armed combat) thus have their uses as well. From a statistical point of view, if you can do one thing, training to use a handgun is the most bang for your buck. If you have the time, money, and inclination to train multiple things, training martial arts (of the realistic, full-contact sparring variety) is complementary.

From a legal perspective, you are also not allowed to shoot someone who attacks you with their fists (the concept of the so-called "force-continuum"). Pepper spray is a better option than fighting back with one's fists for the same reasons that guns are a better option than fighting back with one's fists: it is an unfair advantage. But pepper spray can miss, run out, get knocked away from you, etc... just like guns. So martial arts still have their place. Moreover, both guns and pepper spray are not allowed in some situations.
A handgun, ammunition, and range-time cost money. Martial arts classes cumulatively cost even more (but provide other benefits like exercise and an opportunity for evangelism via the social aspect). Both also have a time and energy cost associated with them.

As to why I would want to consider these matters, I see nothing wrong with the noble sentiment of wanting to be prepared to defend yourself, the people you love, as well as other innocent parties from those willing and able to do unjust harm. In justified circumstances, resisting unlawful violence with equal force is a godly thing to do.

On the other hand, there are complications:

1) With an already-limited amount of time, money, and energy, are these things worth pursuing, perhaps at the cost of other important matters? Certainly it is a poor bargain to limit spiritual considerations like Bible reading and Bible study under qualified teaching ministries in lieu of these things, and also a poor bargain to neglect one's obligations to one's family, as applicable. But what about if the trade-off is between these things and other similar matters of application ("hobbies")?

2) Are these things important to consider if you live in a safe and relatively-affluent suburban area? It seems to me uncontroversial to say that people living in more dangerous circumstances would be wise to take more steps for their safety. But what about seemingly-safe areas with low violence? Do the opportunity costs of guns and martial arts (time, money, energy) then make them foolish to engage in?
At the same time, violence does occasionally occur in otherwise-safe areas, like mass-shootings in schools and churches, and seems to be occurring with ever increasing frequency and intensity. Not having to use these skills is different from not being able to use these skills.

3) Is there an argument to be made that an emphasis on self-reliance and self-defense will make proper Tribulational conduct more difficult, since it will be harder to squash the impulse to resist the gross injustice and persecution if you know that you have the skills to do so effectively?

4) Finally, how about the big one: does God want Christians to prepare ourselves in this way? Put differently, is owning firearms and training for self-defense appropriate, or betraying a lack of trust in God's ability to deliver us?

It seems to me that it is grossly naïve to believe that God will miraculously deliver us from all harm, as if things like firearms and applicable training were not ultimately provided by Him for our defense. Cf. Christians making use of medicine and doctors.

Luke 22:36, NIV11 -- "He [Jesus] said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'" This definitely seems on the face of it to support sentiments similar to those being discussed.

On the other hand, we also have Revelation 13:10, NIV11 -- "'If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.' This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God's people." This verse is definitely given in the context of the Tribulation and Great Persecution (cf. v.7 -- "[The beast] was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation"), but is the general sentiment still applicable for us even external to the Tribulation? If someone starts shooting at us, how far should we lean towards the side of God has all things under control, and accepting that our time has come? (Rather than training over time to be able to shoot back if faced with the same situation)?

Sorry for the length. If I get to the point of actually engaging in these activities, I think I'll want to spend some time getting a better grasp of exactly what the limits to resistance during the Tribulation are, and how to parse that line. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Your friend in Christ,

Response #23:

I'm much more skeptical of martial arts than firearms. One of my Basic School instructors who was a Vietnam hero was asked in class about the use in close combat of a Ka-Bar (famous USMC knife). His reply was that in combat he would much prefer to use his .45. This always made good sense to me. I suppose martial arts are better exercise, but they are also very time-consuming and expensive – to get to the point where they might even conceivably do you the least bit of good. On the other hand, you can become sufficiently competent to defend yourself with a handgun in less than a week – and be more effective too (the best karate chop in the world is not too effective from twenty feet away).

Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."
Luke 22:36 NKJV

This command is given to the disciples in the context of them carrying out their mission – one which it would take years for them to actually get to – of evangelizing the world. That would mean traveling in dangerous places where weapons for self-defense would be very needful (cf. 2Cor.11:26). Scripture also has this:

"I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame."
Psalm 44:6-7

And . . .

Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
Psalm 127:1 NIV

This doesn't mean we don't have to watch; this doesn't mean we don't have a sword and shield or train to use them. But in tandem these verses make the most important point on this issue, namely, it is a trap to rely in one's heart on anything other than on the Lord. So if circumstances warrant (e.g., you're going to dangerous places for the sake of the gospel and can tell ahead of time that there might be trouble), then you'd be irresponsible not to have the proper gear. However, I'm pretty sure that the Lord is not holding against me the fact that I'm not spending a good hunk of my precious time and a sizeable portion of my limited income for Kung-Fu lessons. On that point, the Romans had a saying, ne Hercules quidem contra duos. (i.e., "not even Hercules", who can beat anyone one-on-one, can handle two at once).  Only Jackie Chan can actually take out more than one assailant at a time (and only in the movies). So if I invest my personal security in martial arts, I have to hope that I'll only be attacked – if attacked – by one at a time without weapons. Not a very realistic expectation if you have reasons to worry about all this.

I've said many times that I had a .45 and that it was stolen in a break-in when I was at the university one day. I'd be happy to have it back. However, I've never been sufficiently motivated to spend the money to replace it. I'm not taking a stand here. I've just never felt the need. I don't think I'm being irresponsible. If somebody breaks into my house and wants to shoot it out with me, well, I would be at a disadvantage alright. I do have a crowbar. And a Ka-Bar look-a-like (don't tell my Basics School instructor please).

I do think you are right to focus on the motivational side of this question. I don't see anything morally superior in having firearms – and nothing morally superior in not having them. If a person is thinking that way, on either side of the question, then their thinking is not godly. If you want a pistol, I've got no problem with that. If you want to defend your family (I could pretty much care less if I personally get knocked off at this point), that is a good thing too. We are relying on the Lord for protection, however, whether we are armed or whether we are not. We know that He can protect us either way and in whatever circumstances may betide (and there are billions and trillions of variations we'd never figure out ahead of time). So our job is to do what He wants us to do. Since scripture makes this an area of application not a necessity (unless you're in the army or the police or evangelizing in lion country), each should do what he/she feels called by the Spirit to do. It is dangerous to overlook real threats and say "God will protect me" if He's given you plenty of notice in the Spirit that you'd better take measures (lion country); but it's also very spiritually dangerous to think that unless you are armed to the teeth you are not doing the will of God.

If you do arm yourself, do it responsibly, don't put any particular reliance on it – you still better be trusting in God and not your weapon. And by all means don't be looking for reasons to use it "now that I've got it". Quite the opposite: you should be grateful that you don't actually have to use it, even though you've got it.

They're probably going to take them away during the Tribulation anyhow (if not before, given what's presently afoot). It's one thing to fire a warning shot at a midnight home-invader (which nowadays might still land you in jail). It'll be another to do so at duly constituted authority – operating under the command of the beast's government. As I've written before, I don't see the latter as anything we believers are authorized to do. The second advent will happen on schedule, and we'll all be there. Whether we have been martyred ahead of time or are still living when it happens makes no difference . . . unless we've done something we shouldn't to be where we are (that could compromise our reward).

Happy to talk about any of the other ins and outs of the questions you've raised here, but the above reflects my essential thinking on this matter – in light of the Word of God.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Safe travels, my friend!  And here are some links:

Self-defense for Christians?

Turn the other cheek

Preemptive war?

The biblical view of self-defense

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

What are some things we can do in the world for enjoyment as Christians that are not sinful? To be honest with you, in this world, I can't think of many. Even the music I've loved for so many years is full of evil. Hope you are well my friend in Christ!

Response #24:

Bible study, Bible reading, and prayer can be pretty enjoyable!

Also, work isn't too bad. Exercise is fun and good for you. Socializing with other Christians and (some) family is very nice (though it's admittedly hard to find ones that are worthy of that). I enjoy eating (TOO much). I read non-fiction (mostly military history). Crossword puzzles are good for the noodle. I've been doing a lot of gardening this summer. Working on the house is also necessary and can be enjoyable – especially a job well done (personally, I specialize in "red-neck fixes"). Several of my friends enjoy shooting and hunting (the former is too expensive for my lights, and the latter is not really my thing). I'm sure I'm leaving out a million other things – this is just off of the top of my head.

If you're asking if the Lord begrudges watching sports and TV and movies and video games and etc., these are individual decisions. This is the devil's world so there is very little out there that is Simon pure and untainted. When it comes to some of the obviously more dangerous things where the human viewpoint and temptation level is potentially very high, discernment is a good idea, and less (if any) is usually better than more.

I do watch the news (preference is business news); I've learned that it's better for the blood pressure when the mute button is engaged, however. Amazing what you can learn from "the crawl".

Things here are "challenging" at work. My last help in teaching was fired today, and they're threatening to cancel my upper level Latin classes even though they contracted for me to teach them. So prayers appreciated! [n.b.: it did work out fine last year in fact – and I thank the Lord and also thank all you readers for your prayers on my behalf; and thanks in advance for prayers for the soon to start new school year!]

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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