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Question #1:

Dear Robert,

I thank you for your answer. I was raised as a Catholic and used to attend mass on Sunday until my Mum passed away in 2018. Some parts of me wishes to return but to be honest I am skeptical about some of their teachings. As a non-denominational Christian what is your view or stance on birth control? Now I understand that the Catholic Church teaches people to abstain from sex until marriage which I can sympathise with. However the Church also tells married couples not to use birth control (the pill or condom). I have never understood the logic behind this teaching and I find it very dangerous. In my view married couples should have the right to determine how many children they should or should not have. Am I right in this view or do you agree with the Catholic stance on birth control? Any help in this would be appreciated.

Thank you

Response #1:

That religion always seems to mess people up. I've not known any RC ex-pats who've not had serious issues, so I do sympathize with the residual negative effects you're dealing with.

As to the issue of birth control, scripture says nothing about it, and that is not only because of the times in which the Bible was written. There were abortifacients in antiquity but scripture assumes that godly couples want children. And of course abstaining from relations will work too, but that is prohibited (except temporarily for the purpose of having time for prayer: 1Cor.7:3-5). I note that the RC church has historically been supportive of the "rhythm" method. They have no problem with that although it runs counter to scripture just as much as any other method since it has the same goal of preventing pregnancy.

It has ever been impossible to live in this world outside of Eden without making use of some technological means (even if as simple as the plow and the loom). Christians thus must make use of all manner of natural and scientific means to do all manner of things to survive in this world. With some things we have no problem, but others may make us uneasy, and perhaps rightly so. Especially in our present time of technological explosion, it seems that some things are clearly wrong to do/use, some clearly innocuous, some debatable.

This issue you ask about is no exception and is just one of hundreds of other such "ethical questions" believers face every day. Where scripture does not weigh in directly, it seems best to leave these things to the consciences of individual Christians to decide because, after all, they are "relative" matters which depend more on the level of spiritual maturity of the individual Christians in question than on the issue itself. We have to have confidence in the Holy Spirit that what we are doing is right. If we do, then we do it courageously; if we do not, then we refrain.

For whatever is not from faith is sin.
Romans 14:23b NKJV

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
James 4:17 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

We are making good progress, as it seems to me. Thanks for sticking with me -- this particular exchange has been very helpful in figuring out some of these ministry-related things. Hopefully we're nearing the end on most of these matters.

An unrelated note on writing levels

You may have come across my explanation of "higher level writing" and "lower level writing" on the site -- how I was going to to duplicate most of the site's content at two different levels of writing. I thought this might be worth it to benefit certain people who might otherwise struggle with the prose on the site (children, non-native English speakers, people without a lot of education), but as I've set out to write the lower level versions of several of my initial pages (I naturally write at the higher level), it has very quickly become apparent to me exactly how much time this takes. I thought I might be able to hammer out the lower level versions quickly, but it seems more like sticking with this original idea will double my production time... for everything.

As I've thought about it more, that's not a trade-off I'm willing to make. I'm in the stages of figuring out exactly what I'm going to do instead, but the answer is going to be along the lines of simplifying all writing on the site, adding more in-line definitions (e.g., for theological terms being used), and reducing complexity anywhere it is not strictly necessary.

I don't think the idea of making the writing more accessible is bad, but I think I'm going to have to limit myself to "one version" otherwise I'll kneecap my production speed greatly. This will be a rather significant difference between Ichthys and my site once I've ironed this out more -- my site will be written at a much lower academic level overall.

On the concept of fellowship, you wrote:

"So I tend to see "socializing" as a potentially dangerous virus. If you let it out of the lab (or "into" the assembly's primary function), nothing good is going to happen. So when you say "The fact that there is a lot of pointless social interaction in face-to-face contexts that have open communication channels does not mean that the second we establish open communication channels via the internet (and by this I mean forums, voice chat, and video chat) everything will turn solely social and unfocused", I don't take comfort from that because it usually DOES happen (if not "this second", then by next Tuesday) – and that has been the history of Laodicea. Playing with fire is playing with fire and it is dangerous to deceive oneself into thinking otherwise."

I see now. The virus analogy helps a lot. I guess where I was getting hung up is thinking that it would be possible to enable socializing (something not presently possible in the online context) without it metastasizing, as it were. But now I can see that while I might have the purest intent, it still might not work out in a safe way, with effective focus on Bible teaching as the casualty. (And such a great casualty that is... as that's the whole point of actual fellowship!).

I suppose some of where I was coming from is first establishing that what we have presently does not in fact allow for the open communication and socialization present in physical churches; not sweeping this observation under the rug or pretending like it is not so. (Some people have accused me in the past of redefining what "community" means).

In cheerleading for Ichthys and the online Bible teaching model in general (that I am now following with my own site), I've had many people in my personal life weigh in heavily against the idea of "online church" specifically because the approach that Ichthys and others have adopted lacks these communication channels. "Sure, these sites have Bible teaching that I can read, but we're all supposed to support one another in the body of Christ à la 1 Corinthians 12, so how do we support each other as the body if we can't even talk to each other and stuff?"

I suppose I got so tired of hearing this particular excuse for clinging to Laodicea rather than making use of online ministries that the impulse was to go "Well, here you go, forums and audio chat and video chat, those precious socialization options you wanted... now you don't have any excuse to not start taking in real Bible teaching online!"

But the problem is that this communication ability business was never their issue to begin with. Their real issue is with not wanting to hear the truth. So if we "solve" the communication excuse, more people won't really get the truth as a result of it... but now we've shot ourselves in the foot, as the socializing virus spreads itself throughout the ministry and infects everything.

So, claims to the effect "But this online ministry model doesn't allow for completely open communication and socializing like my in-person church" are all absolutely true. Your point is simply that this is a feature not a bug.

Have I understood things correctly this time around?

Your brother in Christ,

Response #2:

I'm happy you've found this helpful.

On writing levels, I deliberately didn't say anything about this because I've not been able to ever do that myself. When teaching a class, that is a different story. From the feedback one can tell whether or not the material is registering and if not get more simple or go back to more basic things. Hard to anticipate in writing what will or will not be understood. The feedback loop for that at Ichthys are the Q/As.

Re: "Sure, these sites have Bible teaching that I can read, but we're all supposed to support one another in the body of Christ à la 1 Corinthians 12, so how do we support each other as the body if we can't even talk to each other and stuff?": I agree with everything you've written here (nice job!). Also, I don't have any problem with believers socializing with other believers. My issue, as you see precisely, is with the Laodicean church substituting such activities for the primary purpose of assembly – which is spiritual growth and encouragement through the Word of God and its ministry.

(24) And let us give careful attention to one another['s ministries] as motivation for [our own] love and good works, (25) not abandoning your mutual assembling as some have made it their practice to do [and which makes this impossible], but rather encouraging each other [to persevere in this work of the Lord], and doing so to an ever greater degree to the extent that you see the day [of the Lord] drawing [ever] closer.
Hebrews 10:24-25

In regard to ministry (the quibble in the quote), we know very well that God gives us plenty of opportunity to use our gifts – if we've been willing to grow to the point of being prepared to do so. They don't have to be used with those believers we're learning with (especially if we don't even know who they are as is the case for most readers of Ichthys). The Holy Spirit is the One who determines the gifts, the Lord Jesus the ministry, and the Father the effects (1Cor.12:4-6).

So the author of the quote doesn't take into account that God is big enough and smart enough to find just the RIGHT way for us to be employing our gifts. The fact that it may not be the way we assumed it would happen does not make it wrong – in fact it probably makes it all the more right. The fact that how we end up employing our gifts may not be what we wanted is even more a sign that when we were thinking like that we were not yet prepared. And until we do get prepared, going to coffee hour every Sunday and eating donuts with others who are NOT prepared until the cows come home won't advance the kingdom of God one iota. And we will not get prepared to minister by attending a social-church where there is no substantive Bible teaching. And if we go to such a church with the intent of ministering the Word we will be disappointed since the people there are there because they are not interested in that. If we try to teach the truth and minister through the truth, we will likely be kicked out.

"Their real issue is with not wanting to hear the truth." Amen! That says it all.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

I figure I'll keep us in this chain, so that in the future specific ministry questions will all show up here in the same place.

On the concept of me making myself available to site readers via calling, texting, etc. What do you think about the idea of me making myself available to site readers over phone calls, texting, and other such things (Zoom, WhatsApp, etc. -- whatever works for them)? Both you and Curt communicate with those you teach strictly via email, as far as I am aware of. [omitted] The short version of what we decided is that unlike a public online community which is a bad idea period (like we discussed above), this is just something that is dependent upon the teacher in question.

There are definite advantages to keeping things email-only (such as the fact that conversations can be revisited any time by site readers, and we as teachers can respond on our own terms), but there are also advantages to being able to talk directly with people, especially for them.

I am pretty quick on my feet in spoken conversations, and also quite extroverted. As points of comparison, __ has said that he likes taking his time in digesting what is being said and doesn't do so well in rapid-fire spoken conversations, and while __ is quick on his feet in spoken conversations like myself, he doesn't think the phone-call thing is right for him, as he does not at all do well having his schedule disrupted and finds that calls take more energy out of him than writing.

By way of contrast, I think this idea is a good fit for me and my personality and that I'd be able to offer this for my site readers without seriously shooting myself in the foot. For people who would rather just talk directly rather than deal with long walls of text, I think it might prove to be immensely beneficial.

I'm pretty gung-ho about this idea and have put some thought in how to mitigate some of the potential problems (many are discussed in the exchange __ and I had), but before getting too ahead of myself, I wanted to see what you thought. So what do you think?

Your brother in Christ,

Response #3:

I've looked over the three examples and this seems fine to me. Good stuff, by the way!

On the other question, it's not just a matter of being quick on one's feet. Often, taking time to reflect is a very good thing to do. The tongue is deceitful, and once we've let something fly, there is no taking it back. That is true of, e.g., an email as well, but at least there we can consider our response at whatever length is necessary – and also edit our remarks before we hit "send". This is no small matter when we are addressing a single person as opposed to our entire flock.

And that brings me to the second point. My mentor, Col. Thieme, almost never did anything or said anything "one on one". That was an extreme, but the rationale was a good one, and one born out of his following the other typical evangelical extreme in earlier years. If I say something to the entire congregation, it's easier for them to be objective about it and not take it personally – as if I were criticizing or complimenting or generally critiquing them individually. But personal conversations of every sort put a strain on the objectivity factor, even for the most spiritual of individuals.

Emails mitigate this complication somewhat, but not entirely. I won't go into examples where this problem of "taking it personally" has created rifts and misunderstandings, but it is not an uncommon event. Were I to take phone calls, I'm sure it would be much worse and for lots of reasons having to do with the medium and also with familiarity. Pastor-teachers always have to remember that this is NOT about "personal relationships" – this is about the truth of the Word of God. Personal relationships, wonderful as they can be, complicate things. They most certainly strain objectivity – on both sides. We all want people to "like us", but the spiritual welfare of those under our charge is what is really important.

To use a loose analogy, military commanders who get too close emotionally to those under their command are apt to make worse decisions than those who have maintained their objectivity. Sometimes a course of action which will surely result in casualties is actually the best one, not only for achieving the objective but also in the long run for the safety of the unit over all – even though some favored individuals are going to be killed or wounded. In a somewhat similar way, a pastor-teacher has to tell his flock what they need to hear – the truth. And sometimes, often times, the truth not only hurts but is detrimental to personal relations – since everyone, it seems, from time to time has some areas of the truth they really don't want to hear. It takes spiritual courage to be truthful, because no matter how tactful a person may be, wielding the sword of truth always creates divisions sooner or later. The stronger the emotional bond, the more difficult it is to do what is right – and the greater the potential pain when you do. This being the case, putting oneself in a situation where this has to be dealt with instantaneously and with no prior warning at possibly a really bad time . . . when the phone rings . . . is problematic.

Then there is also the issue of time. No small point! I guarantee you that if you go this route, most people won't call you; some really good people will call you occasionally, treating you with respect and will have important questions which can be answered helpfully and efficiently. But there will be a group which calls you incessantly, some wanting to hash out the same things over and over and over again – but never actually "hearing" what you say so as to be able to put the good things you tell them into practice; some of these will have mental problems . . . of all sorts; some will be hard to characterize but will be thorns in your side. You had better have a strategy and a policy for dealing with "the abusers" ahead of time. If you don't, they will monopolize all of your time, energy and patience . . . and to no good purpose in the end. There is a reason why therapists charge $100 an hour or more. But if your time is free and unlimited from the point of view of these callers, well, why NOT just give you a call?

Lastly, you may have noticed from reading the email exchanges at Ichthys that MANY people 1) don't bother to read the materials already posted which would have answered their question; 2) don't bother to spend enough time on the specific responses I give them (so that I have to keep responding when they should have "gotten it" the first time); and 3) all too often aren't willing to accept what I tell them – often because they're not really "listening". Since that is true of written correspondence which can be mulled over (if a person is willing to really listen), how much more is that not the case over the telephone?

When you have a thriving mega-church, it might be a good idea to have counselors or pastors who do this sort of thing. There are many out there who would love to take advantage of such free services. Counseling people takes a great deal of time, patience and emotional energy – and it doesn't leave much for any sort of studying and teaching the Word. So make sure you pay these individuals well: if they are good, they will definitely be earning it. But for you personally, with a full time job and just starting out with a teaching ministry, I think this could cause problems.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dear Teacher

I'm sorry for failing to clarify, Sir. Yes, that is correct. The job that __ told me about is the UK opportunity.


Thank you very much, Sir, for those prayers. I am very grateful for that support especially.

Your student in Jesus Christ

Response #4:

Thanks for the clarification.

As to particular career paths and choosing the right one, when I was just getting started in graduate school in Classics, I got "fired up" about doing analytical linguistics. The idea appealed to me as a way to be able to do the research I knew would be necessary to make a go of the career track I was on. But before I had wasted too much time on this false path I figured out that it was "not for me". Doing ancient history is hard, but I don't hate it (as I would have hated that other track), so I can do it (enough of it to stay employed). I'm very thankful to the Lord that I was wise enough not to waste too much time on this false path (or just lazy and dumb enough to see early on that it wasn't for me).

So this is what I'm concerned about for you, and I'm a little reluctant to say anything about it because of how little I know about the field and since it is of course your decision and not mine. You're going to have to learn an entirely new field. Not that this is a bad thing. Anything one learns pays benefits. But we have limited time and energy. [omitted] I'm hoping (and praying) for you for conviction on this – one way or another.

It goes without saying that you have my friendship and encouragement and prayers regardless.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Dr Luginbill,

Do you remember when I told you I used to feel guilty for doing normal everyday things? Sometimes for no reason? That is no exaggeration. I know most people don't feel that. I still do sometimes, but it is rarer and rarer. And we have talk before about that thing that I struggled with because it didn't mean much to say I felt guilty over it when I also felt guilty for existing, but I do think that guilt is a tad different and there is a strong argument to be made that it is in the Bible as a sin-but anyway...I had said that my go to is my general default now is that if the Bible does not forbid, it is not a sin. Why do I bring this up?

Well, there is a song I recently found that I kind of like kind of don't that I have been listening to here and there. The thing is I think most people would say (if they took it seriously) that it is dark. But that is the way life is for a lot of people. And it is really something to discover some art that describes the darkness you are familiar with and could not put into words. I know from my default it isn't a sin. But I wanted to know what you think?

The question is: Can you tell me what you think of listening to music with lyrics that many would take as dark if it is partly just a legit description of reality for some or for yourself (at least at one point)?

I really am conflicted. Part of me says that it is easier to focus on God without that stuff, but the other part of me says that you need understanding of even some of these dark things for healing, the problems don't magically go away without effort at understanding. I wouldn't understand it was wrong, but would instead still be in contact with my abusive family feeling guilty for existing.


Response #5:

We do live in QUITE a culture, and it's getting edgier and more problematic with every passing day. With the need to interface with technology nowadays just to earn a living, it's virtually impossible to stay ignorant of or completely separated from negative influences (unless one jumps into a hole and pulls it in afterwards). But to one degree or another that has been true of all cultures since Adam and Eve departed from Eden – it's just a matter of type and of degrees.

For Christians who love the Lord and are doing their best to follow Him, less of "bad stuff" is always better than more. Take TV, video and movies, for example. Not having anything to do with them whatsoever would probably not kill us, and we could use the time profitably doing other things. But staying away from some of it (as disturbingly negative) and limiting our contact with the rest of it (as not the best use of our time) seems to me to be a good middle ground. Having some idea of "what's happening" is not without its value (though there are other ways to achieve this).

I will say that from my perspective it's a mistake to justify, e.g., watching cable news (especially a LOT of it) as "needing to be informed". It's better to admit to oneself that this is something one wants to do, and also to keep it at arms length emotionally even while indulging (it IS an indulgence). The same would be true of all manner of cultural activities, in my opinion, music included. If we are wrestling with our consciences about any particular such cultural activity, then we need to take that into consideration: if we can't relegate it in our hearts to the insignificant place it should occupy, then perhaps we should leave it alone – for a bit, at least – whatever it is.

As to guilt, that is a problem, and more of a problem for some than for others, and more of a problem in area X for person A than for person B or C who have the issue in areas Y and Z. Guilt is one of the devil's main weapons. Clearly, we should NOT do things that are wrong and sinful – and if we do we are right to feel bad about it (and the Lord is certainly able to make us feel bad through divine discipline if we're not willing to reform). But the evil one loves to make us feel guilty about past wrongs (when we know we are forgiven) and about things which now cannot be changed (Christians need to learn to live with the status quo and not try to change the past out of guilt). Satan is also adept at making us feel guilty about things which are not actually sinful or are not our fault (as in your case). The antidote for that is 1) viscerally rejecting all such lies, and 2) joyously embracing the truth. Staying away from things and from people who upset us, however, is also not a bad idea – and that includes not dwelling on things in our hearts that are making us upset when instead we should be thinking of "the things above" (Col.3:1-2) . . .

. . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:7 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

But you would agree that we should watch or read at least some news, I am sure. And that is a mainstream example (easier to understand). The other thing I thought of is some of the stuff in Lamentations. Some parts of that, if it were not the Bible and were out of it speaking of something else and the language made a little more modern, may even be comparable (for ex: filthiness clinging to the skirt, statements that those in authority [religious and kingly] lied to them to their destruction, being swallowed up, women eating their children, etc-yet all of this is in the Bible for people to read permanently). I have also been reading the Psalms, and some of them are similar-more poetic and pure, but similar. But if it were a person on the street singing something like some of those things about their life, some would consider it dark.

On a more positive side, I would also say the Song of Solomon doesn't really mention God much, but is like an ancient love song, right? But if that were sung before written down or made part of the Bible, how many would say that it distracts us from God? I don't know, the more I read and live and learn, the more I feel there is something not quite right with that line of thinking. I can imagine what people who think like this (having been one of them myself for a long time) would have said when alcohol or music or many other things were first discovered if they had been there.

I have found that reading the Bible and knowing what it says, and using that when I feel guilty for things I shouldn't does help (like what you said about countering strongly with the Truth). For example, the above.


Response #6:

"I have found that reading the Bible and knowing what it says, and using that when I feel guilty for things I shouldn't does help" - Amen! That is exactly the right approach, my friend!

There are of course certain things in scripture which are hard to understand. The Song of Solomon is, essentially, a parable about Christ and the Church, looking forward to the consummation of our blessed relationship with Him. Lamentations has some wonderful things in it (Lam.3:21-36); there are certainly a good many disturbing things that book relates, all of which are the result of judgment for turning away from the Lord – so these are also salutary for us to hear because they remind us that sticking close to Him is the only safe course (and that is the case with most of the other prophetic writings as well).

I do watch and read news. Sometimes more than I should. Sometimes less than I probably should. That's a matter of individual application. It may not be good to go to either extreme, but I would be hard pressed to proclaim it absolutely "sin" if a person watched/read none or a great deal. These are matters of personal application which can only really be addressed by the person in question in the Spirit – and as always it also depends on "us", who and where we are . . . especially in terms of spiritual maturity.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Dr L,

As a Christian woman am I obligated to smiley all the time out of politeness/civility? Because I get that impression now and again. But it is weird to me, because it isn't like certain words or actions, but that I am being dictated what my feelings must be ALL THE TIME. At the dentist, I was asked why I wasn't smiling. On the street also, Etc.

I remember my grandmother who was a pastor's wife and I don't remember her smiling much, so maybe the answer is just to ignore those people who say that.

Response #7:

Believers in Jesus Christ belong to Him, and He loves us regardless. We set ourselves, therefore, to be pleasing TO HIM, and not to other human beings.

That does not mean that we cannot or should not reasonably accommodate to societal expectations – to a degree. Bathing regularly and keeping up an acceptable appearance that does not draw negative attention is both respectful of others and salutary in avoiding unwanted negative scrutiny.

When it comes to behavior and our personalities, however, there are certainly limits to what we can or should do. We are "us", and that is important. A good deal of the "us" is how God made us. We certainly should refrain from sinful behavior and also do our best to walk in this world in the godly way which scripture lays out everywhere (just for example, Col.3:12-17). But when it comes to things like "smiling", or laughing or other very personal behaviors, I would be averse to try to "re-write" my personality to make it sync with the expectations of others. We are striving to be pleasing to the Lord in thought, word and deed – not to the world (e.g., 1Cor.7:33-34).

Wishing you a great week ahead! Classes start here tomorrow for me.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

How was your day? Any developments on the work front? I'm back focusing on my exercise again after Christmas.

Thanks for your prayers for me last week. It was a very tough week and a big test but the Lord helped me through.

I had a good talk with __ on the phone about the whole situation. __ was saying he thinks __ has a severe personality disorder (I'm not sure what your thoughts are on this kind of thing,?).


I was reading the emails this week and I found encouragement and could relate to numbers 15, 16 and 17 about suffering abuse. I understand what your correspondent was saying about dealing with favouritism.

We don't have to adjust to bad treatment or try to get used to it. If it doesn't seem to bother anyone else but it's hurting you then it is a big deal, it's still important that you look after your own health. People who say things like, "Oh that's just the way they are, they've always been that way so we just have to accept it and put up with it" are just minimizing or excusing the bad behaviour and allowing them to continue to hurt others. I did that for years until you helped me to realise I didn't have to take the abuse anymore. I could still obey the Lord and love and honour from afar.

I'm happy that even though I went through what I did as a child, when it came to having my own children I was determined to give them all the love, care, support and security that I never had. That they would have a happy childhood with happy memories to look back on. I did and still do the best I can for them and to hear them say they love me and they wouldn't want anyone else for their mom makes everything I went through worthwhile.

I'm blessed and really happy that the Lord has brought me safely through another week of testing and flak! I'm loving learning and growing and being a part of the good fight! I wouldn't want to fill my time or my heart and mind or life with anything else but the Lord. We haven't got time to waste it on anything else!

Your friend in Jesus

Response #8:

Terrific to hear that you weathered this storm and that the Lord brought you safe through to the other side. I'm very pleased to hear that instead of "blow back" you got some gracious understanding from your family. You passed this test with colors flying, my friend! You held your ground in a godly way and He brought you through!

As to "personality disorders" and the like, I tend to think that we are ALL a little messed up (the old sin nature, after all), just in different ways. Then we make decisions to cope in reasonable ways (and in godly ways for those who come to Christ) . . . or not (in which case these ticks may get worse). What good it does to acknowledge and characterize and analyze and diagnose such "disorders", I'm not sure. If it only ends up giving people an excuse to do what they are doing rather than encouraging them to learn to cope and do better, then I'm not for it. But I have known of people who have been noticeably helped by "therapy" so I'm not willing to throw the baby out with the bath water. I will say that even in such cases I still am of the opinion that a solid dose of Bible truth and trusting the Lord would have been better – and had better results.

"I'm happy that even though I went through what I did as a child, when it came to having my own children I was determined to give them all the love, care, support and security that I never had." – Amen! Doesn't this prove beyond any doubt that it's what we choose that matters? People from good environments go bad and people from bad ones go good – if they choose to do so.

Thanks for being such a good witness for the Lord!

Things going OK here. Just got back into work today (not on campus until next week). So far, so good – but lots of uncertainty with the coming semester – especially if we go into some sort of "national lockdown" after the inauguration.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Dr Luginbill,

How are doing? Let me know!

I am doing alright. Getting a bit better at accomplishing goals. I am trying for 2 hours of Greek again, hopefully I can get it (trying it in a bit different way). I finished Homer and started on Euripides' Electra. It seems very different in language at first feel. Also I am trying a bit of Acts (remember how I said I figured it was easier in the language and you were like 'no' lol). And I am still doing Bible reading and the other things (right now one of the 3 portions I do is going through the priestly duties in Lev, so that is interesting). You know I sometimes think there is something to those types of rituals, because humans seem to seek them out in one form or another.

I met up with a friend that was a teacher of mine in high school, and she and I are both believers, so it was really nice (not needing to have a guard up).

One more thing! I do like reading and watching leaders that I like doing their thing. And I definitely like work and pushing myself and rushing to my goals. But I wouldn't want to lead. I like the support position, is that weird? Our society wants everyone to be a leader. But if everyone is the captain, who will do the actual mechanics on the ship's equipment?

You know like they always say "are you a leader or a follower" and they mean you are supposed to answer that you are a leader. But I am a follower, however I am picky about who I follow. There's One, who is THE BEST. And any others. Following doesn't mean brainless or no-free-will.

Response #9:

Good to hear that you're getting out and meeting people in spite of this craziness. I think the enforced isolation is having a lot more negative consequences than the bug itself (and it's cutting down on the natural building up of immune systems in the process).

Also good to hear that you are working away at your Greek and Bible study.

You are right, it seems EVERYONE wants to be "the boss". It seems all and sundry want the power and the status and the position and all the perks. But how many want to do the really hard work to get to the place of being qualified to be a good leader, or the hard work of doing what is right if one does get that chance? Very few.

In the Church of Jesus Christ, well, we know that things work a little differently:

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:25-28 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior who died for us all.

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Dr Luginbill,

Well I am still getting 30 mn-1 hr daily, but the effort to do more consistently wipes out my mental energy. I will see.

On the boss. Well the person it takes to do it tends to live and breathe their work nearly every hour day and night (being married to the job/their work). Even if they are married to a person lol. I don't know if they are just wired that way or what. I read about characters doing it, and I try, and I do make progress, but at that level (and being aware of what people like that in real life can do day to day), I just don't have the energy after a certain point.

And it is different for us, yes. Not to mention He works differently than the world, doesn't He? The world doesn't value the same things. So our work is not the same. But it is certainly better and more precious.

Please take care,

Response #10:

Yes, there is a limit to how much and how long most people can focus on things that really are difficult – especially if it's not a question of one's livelihood. That necessity does make a difference:

The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.
Proverbs 16:26 NIV

So we just need to stay "hungry" for the Lord.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1st Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Master,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Good morning Dr Luginbill,

How have you been? Busy I am sure.


Response #11:

I'm getting through. How about you?

As to personality, the best thing is to be oneself and not to try and adapt to our perceptions of what other people prefer. Not to say that we can't be thoughtful and generous and accommodating etc. These are godly things to be. But I wouldn't worry overly about trying to change – since I doubt that is possible anyway.

When it comes to friendship or something more, anyone who really cares about us – anyone "worth their salt" – is going to esteem us for who we are, not for whom they might prefer us to be. If we take that attitude, God will provide. Otherwise, we risk falling into a trap.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you for your encouragement. Well, I am doing one day at a time. I am trying to work on my budget and schedule too. I am alright.


Please take care.

Response #12:

God made us – and He knew what He was doing when He did so. As long as what WE are doing is what the Lord wants, we don't have to worry at all about all the other stuff.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.
Acts 20:24 NIV

We know why we are here and who it is we are serving, looking forward to a "well done!" from Him.

Keep running your good race!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Dr Luginbill,

I had not thought of that reason before-that providing those miracles would have pushed Sodom and Gomorrah past the free will point [link]. I thought it meant that they may have repented temporarily, but backslid, but not backslid bad enough to be destroyed later. But I think your explanation fits better (because it seems like something special for them to last that long in the normal course of things).

Thanks for the teaching,

Response #13:


That's right.  There are no hypotheticals in the plan of God.  There is only what did actually happen.  Application for us:  looking backward is fruitless; looking forward is pointless; concentrating on doing what the Lord wants us to be doing right now is the best way to grow, to help others, to honor the Lord . . . and to earn a good reward.

I greatly appreciate your encouragement and support, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have this brother/friend that claims that one can be a Christian and still participate in homosexuality periodically. His claim is, well we all commit sin, and homosexuality is a sin, so what's the difference. I tried to explain but you probably know what happened, another believer to work with. So, I would appreciate your help so that I can adequately respond to him. Thanks so much, as always,

Here is the response that I sent to this man who made the comments about homosexuality. I had asked you to provide some comments but decided to respond to him myself.
Just wondering what your thoughts were on these comments I wrote to him.

Here are the brief comments:

In response to the brief discussion we had several days ago, I offer these scripture verses and comments: Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. If a person was a homosexual and then gets saved? , but periodically returns and commits it again and again, then what is that person classified as, according to Scripture? They are still homosexuals. A murderer who gets saved and then goes and murders other people are they still saved? Not according to the Word of God. They are still murderers. Notice 1 Corinthians 6 and verse 11.NASB It says, "Such were some of you; but you were washed but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God". When a person still goes back to their homosexual practice from time to time, what does that make them, but a practicing homosexual...o remain a believer, a person cannot go back to their old lifestyle and still be a Christian according to scripture. Read Romans 1:27-28. The question is, why did God single out those outlined in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10? If we take what you said in reply to my comment, well everybody sins, even after they are saved, then is what you're saying true that we can do whatever we want and still be a Christian? because everyone sins? What happened to true repentance for these folks?

God bless you and hope you are doing well after the Covid vaccines. My wife and I received both of them about a month or so ago, and had no side-effects whatsoever, not even a smidgen.

Thanks for your comments,

I know you are really busy because you always reply fast to my emails.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #14:

It's a particularly debilitating sin, that is for sure.

As to "who is saved?", believers in Jesus Christ are saved; unbelievers are not saved (Jn.3:18).

Can a believer in Jesus Christ do XYZ and still be saved? This is a common question, but it's very important to keep the issue of behavior on the one hand and of saved or unsaved status on the other separate in our evaluation of people – or at least exercise some care there since there is the chance that this behavior we may notice is not the enduring pattern.

It's very common to hear, "He/she could not be saved and do/have done that!" I'm sure David heard it . . . after committing adultery with Uriah's wife and then having him murdered. David committed adultery and murder. But David was not an adulterer nor a murderer – this horrific behavior was not a pattern which marked his status; it was a terrible anomaly . . . and he was disciplined VERY heavily for it.

People who regularly commit murder or adultery without remorse, however, are doubtless NOT believers (1Jn.3:15). That is not because of the behavior (bad as it is), however. People are not saved because of good behavior, nor are they condemned because of bad behavior. That is a typical secular view, that is the RC view, but that is not the truth. People are saved by grace through faith in Christ, washed clean and redeemed and justified by His blood (i.e., His spiritual death on the cross; cf. 1Cor.6:11); and people stand condemned through their rejection of Jesus Christ and what He has done for them.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1st Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV

Anyone who IS a believer and engages in foul and sinful conduct of any kind WILL be disciplined by the Lord. If they persist instead of repenting, the discipline gets progressively worse . . . until things come to that most critical fork in the road. The Lord will not allow a genuine believer to persist in gross misbehavior forever. If said believer insists on continuing anyway, one of two things will happen. For those who refuse to let go of their faith OR their vile conduct, the Lord takes these believers home via the "sin unto death" – a horrible exit from this life and a shameful one as well (Saul is an example of this). For those who are unwilling to change their behavior but ARE willing to allow their sinful modus vivendi to continue to alienate them more and more from the Lord, eventually their faith weakens, and, eventually, their faith dies out altogether. That is apostasy. Once a believer apostatizes back into the status of an unbeliever, "the latter end is worse for them than the beginning" (2Pet.2:20) and " it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment [i.e., the gospel] delivered to them" (2Pet.2:21). The Lord is no longer concerned about these individuals because they no longer believe in Him and no longer belong to Him.

So if the question is, "can a believer in Jesus Christ engage in horrifically sinful conduct with impunity?", the answer is, not forever and generally not for very long . . . as long as they are really still believers.

Key Ichthys link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death" in BB 3B

Hope this helps, my friend. I spend Saturday's on weekly postings and must devote my time to that on "the seventh day", so emails that come in after I've stopped work on Friday are generally not responded to until Sunday evening.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Good morning Bob.

I hope this message finds you well. Much as I understand that there are times for everything, I struggle with outcomes that can be much different from, say, a prayer for healing or restoration. I also would rather dream of the Presence of Christ my Savior, and have my focus on Him while awake or asleep. Would you pray for me about this? Thanks Bob. If there is anything I can pray for you please let me know.

Response #15:

It's true that the Lord doesn't always answer our prayers in the way or at the time WE would prefer. At such times, it's very important to remember that the plan of God is absolutely perfect and that everything that happens is in accordance with that absolutely perfect plan. When we don't see it, that is the time when we need to trust Him even more – more, that is, than what we feel or hear or see.

It would be great to dream only about wonderful things. But we know that this is also a front on the battlefield. Job, for example, was harassed in his dreams too – even though he was a great believer doing everything right (Job 7:14).

It is also true that our "cares" influence what we dream (Eccl.5:3), so that the more we learn to trust the Lord when we are awake, the more likely we are to have "sweet dreams" when we are asleep.

See also: Dreams, Visions, Miracles, Exorcism, Tongues, and False Prophets

I do promise to say a prayer for you on this, however, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

What position do you hold concerning women preachers/teachers? Some women seem to be called in that ministry but it feels contrary to what the scripture says although the clear reasons are do not seem to be laid out.

Yours in the Lord Jesus

Response #16:

There is a good deal about this in BB 6B (at the link: "women in leadership"). In a nutshell, women believers have spiritual gifts just as men believers do, and many women are gifted as teachers. But neither women NOR men who are not gifted to be pastor-teachers. And EVEN men who are so gifted but are not yet properly prepared are authorized to teach the general congregation of women and adult men. So we all have had to learn to accept authority in the Church of Jesus Christ – if we want to get anywhere spiritually and earn an eternal reward.

(3) Endure hardship with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) No one on military campaign becomes involved in the affairs of normal life. [He avoids such things] that he may please the one who enlisted him. (5) Likewise if anyone engages in athletic competition, he does not win a crown if he fails to compete according to the rules.
2nd Timothy 2:3-5

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Do we have to abstain from pork and other meats that were considered unclean in the OT? A lot of people claim that Peter's vision in Acts of the animals was merely about the separation between Jew and Gentile, and that God wasn't actually commanding him to eat them, otherwise Peter would have understood the vision immediately.

Response #17:

The command to Peter was very clear (these people clearly have no idea what they are talking about), and I assure you that the dietary regulations of the Mosaic Law no longer apply (see the link). These were meant to demonstrate by a physical method the spiritual distinction between believers (Israel) and unbelievers (gentiles). But now the Law has been abrogated (e.g., Rom.10:4), and even in apostolic times (before these matters were as yet completely understood), even the Jerusalem council didn't require gentiles to observe these regulations (Acts 15:23-29). Scripture is very clear about this:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV

Of course, this is hardly the most important issue. I encourage you to be reading into this ministry and growing spiritually daily – that is the most important thing.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Turns out, I don’t know how to grieve. It feels wrong to be so down and sad, but I know not acknowledging the pain and void will surely catch up to me.

I’m not in denial, but there is some disbelief. I keep forgetting that __ is not just waiting to be discharged. These last few months were such a mess, in and out of facilities, it just feels like he’s still in one of those places and we’re waiting.

There were the few days following the heart attack that we were unsure he’d make it, but then he made a miraculous turn around. All __ can say during her down moments and times of disbelief is, “we were supposed to go home; we were supposed to go home.” And I think we all feel that way. Everything just feels so off right now. And empty.

Please pray for my strength…And I welcome any advice or links, only if you have time of course.
I feel like I’m back to when as a new believer I was fumbling around in prayer and in the Bible… unsure of what I’m looking for or how to stay focused. Having trouble sorting my feelings/emotions from real Truth. Then I beat myself up because I think, if I hadn’t wasted so much time in my youth, I’d be much further along in my spiritual growth and better equipped to handle this loss. And I’d better be able to help my family. (Again, I realize living in the past is not glorifying God or helpful to anyone, but here I am.)

If you made it this far, thank you.. and sorry for the rambling. You’re the only person who gives me true encouragement (and/or tough truths). I’m tired of the people saying, “he’s in a better place now.” While I do hope that to be true, that doesn’t help my aching heart that is missing __. And I really have to watch my responses when someone says, “now you’ve got a guardian Angel with you.” Bah! No!

Parts of this email might be too many personal details to share on your site, but I’m sure you’d work around It if you ever needed to post it.

If I trust the Lord & I believe His timing to be perfect, what am I even doing? I say I believe it and I trust Him, but do I really? Is this grieving — to wrestle with emotions and question the plan while also trying to trust the plan?

Your friend in Christ who is a mess and apologizes for taking up so much of your time,

Response #18:

In a loss such as this, it really can be an extra load to have to put up with people who mean well but who are not very adroit at comforting others. This is one of those crosses mature believers have to bear.

As far as beating yourself up, well, we ALL could have "gotten to it" earlier and could have been more consistent and done more along the way, etc. etc. But the important thing is that we ARE in the fight now. So don't let anything take away your spiritual momentum. That is what makes all the difference in the long run.

Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
John 11:33-36 NKJV

Grief is normal. Grief is unavoidable when we've lost someone we love. Our Lord knew that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life, but that did not eliminate the emotion and the fact of the grief that He felt over his death and being temporarily deprived of His friend, or seeing and experiencing the pain of His other friends in their mutual grief.

Of course we know that those we love who are saved have eternal life – and from all you've shared I certainly do believe that __ was – or more to the point, IS saved. But even our perfect Lord wept in grief at the loss of Lazarus. True, we do not "grieve as those who have no hope" (1Thes.4:13). We absolutely do believe in the eternal life of those we love who are saved and departed. We absolutely do believe in their resurrection to come, that we will see them again, that this separation is only temporary. But that does NOT mean that losing them does not hurt – it hurts a great deal indeed.

We have a right to be emotionally distraught and to cry over our loss. We have a right to grieve. Indeed, it is a big mistake to assume that we are somehow above this because we are believers, because we do have hope. Our hope is a wonderful solace, but it does not take away the pain of loss which is often profound. And it is not meant to. But we believers have the ability to cope precisely because we have the solace of knowing that our believing loved ones are in the Lord's embrace, and that thus death does not mean the end, rather the beginning.

So please do not be down on yourself for being sorrowful about the loss of someone so dear to you. How could any normal person be otherwise? You are clearly "holding it together" and you also clearly know the truth which lies beyond the veil of tears which hides the coming light from our physical eyes at present. So you are "doing it right". Do not fail to grieve – as much as you need to and for as long as you need to. It is necessary. Just ask our Lord.

Here are some links:

Grief and bereavement

Sad news

I am keeping you in prayer about this my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hey Dr Luginbill,

I wanted to ask if you could give me a vague idea of what your schedule is like. Not to get personal, and if you feel like it is then you can of course decline. The reason is that I have so many things on my to do and there just isn't enough time. And I wondered if seeing how someone else does all their things (as you are someone who also does many things, a number of them similar to my own, though a higher level obviously) might help. Or maybe if you just have advice that has worked for you.


Response #19:

It does sound to me as if you are doing well with this. However, we can all afford to improve, it's true.

One thing I can tell you is that in order to be consistent on the things one finds of most importance, it's not the worst idea in the world to "front load" the time devoted to them. And if there's not enough time to get to top priorities before one has to go off to work, then getting up earlier to have the time is also not a bad idea. This is how I deal with a good part of my "must do" list. This is also what the ancient Roman aristocrats did – getting up in the dark to have time to devote to the things that mattered to them before having to go off to the forum for business of one sort or another ("lucubration" which literally means "working by lamp light").

Another important point is not to consider as a complete failure any day when not everything gets the time or energy one had planned to give it. Put the day "to bed" and thank the Lord for the good things that did get done and try harder tomorrow. Also, don't try to "make it up" tomorrow, or give yourself the excuse that you'll "make it up tomorrow". Do what you purpose to do today today, and don't burden yourself tomorrow with what you didn't get to (for whatever reason).

Time is the most valuable resource we've been given. The more we redeem for the Lord, the more treasure we're putting into our heavenly thesaurus (Matt.6:19-21).

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16 NKJV

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
Colossians 4:5 NKJV

Hope this helps.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

How are things with you? I hope all is well.

Thank you so much for all the time and energy you have given in getting Peter #36 out there for us. It has been written just at the right time for me and has given me lots of encouragement as with the Lord's help I'm still working through some tough testing of my own (that good old stuff!). I'm still hanging in there though and continuing to pray and study and remembering your advice to me which is helping a lot too.

I'm still praying for you, Bob and chuffed that I can see the Lord answering my prayers for you and your ministry!

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #20:

Good to hear that you are hanging in there, my friend! At times, that is the best we've got! I'm praying for you for a little relief.

And look how you're helping me and this ministry in spite of all you've got on your plate! I'm truly grateful. Thank you!

If we just "keep plugging away", ofttimes after a while we look back and see we've made it quite a ways forward.

But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:16

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.



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