You're always most welcome, my friend.
The evil one puts all manner of traps into our path. It's the rare individual who can sniff them all out and so avoid them all – and I have yet to meet that person (or to read about him in the Bible – Daniel, maybe . . .). I'm sorry about the loss. One thing I can certainly identify with is that it is very common for us to be emotionally rocked by something or other and to then let that dis-ease which results color everything else. In fact it's typical human behavior. But we believers understand that none of this peripheral stuff down here really makes any eternal difference. Only what we are doing for the Lord in growing, progressing and producing is of any lasting consequence. The rest of life is laughably insignificant.
That, of course, is not how it FEELS down here on planet earth. But our departed loved ones and other believers watching from above are certainly rooting for us to realize that truth more and more. The Lord has it all planned out, including making up for all losses, including recovery from all stumbles, including abundant joy and peace right here at hand, if only we are willing to pick it up when things go sour in the world. And that is what we need to do. Pick it up. No failure or disaster or loss has any real weight compared to the least reward we will be receiving for the least thing we have done in this life in response to our Lord. It's not even close. And nothing that happens on this earth can take away from us that least reward – or anything we've earned by faithful service to the Lord. As long was we make it to the other side, all the treasures in our heavenly treasure chest are safe and sound, and will delight us for all eternity. Even if we failed today. Even if we suffered loss or disaster today. Even if it really was ALL our fault. The only thing letting ourselves get upset about these things which genuinely are upsetting, especially to those who have no hope, can do is to keep us from adding more treasure to the chest until we get around to picking back up the peace that is our heritage as those who belong to Christ, rekindling the joy that all He has done for us and all that is to come demands, and refocusing on the hope of resurrection and reward that is the point of this race we are running.
Keeping you in my prayers always, my friend.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior – who is our peace, our joy, and entire hope.
I'm very sorry to see that this is eating at you so ferociously, my friend. I read back over your initial email on this, and for the life of me I can't see that you've done anything wrong. You made what was in retrospect a bad decision. We all make mistakes. As I often tell my students, "Even I occasionally make a mistake. There was that one time back in 1967 . . ."
You didn't murder anyone. You didn't commit adultery. David comes to mind there. You didn't put yourself in terrible physical jeopardy even though the Spirit told you in no uncertain terms not to do so on many occasions. Paul comes to mind there. You didn't violate a direct order from the Lord in front of the entire nation of Israel because you were angry. Moses comes to mind there. You didn't turn tail and run, giving the worst possible witness of lack of courage in the face of the devil's threats. Elijah comes to mind there. What did you do? You made a bad decision which cost you a lot of money.
Let me ask you something. What if this bad decision had cost you only a fraction of what it actually did. Would you feel as bad as you do now? Would you be upbraiding yourself like you are now? Would you still be so upset with yourself? Would that be a reason to throw in the towel? If it had only cost you pennies?
If this is about the amount, I think you need to reconsider your reaction. Sure, it's a lot of money, but the Lord could give you a thousand times as much tomorrow without lifting a finger. There are reasons why we who have chosen to follow Him are not generally allowed to get too well off. Some we can see; others not; but we trust the Lord even so. I have to tell you – without going into detail – that, given your reaction to this setback, you would probably drop dead if I told you how far in debt I am. And I have suffered some terrible financial setbacks in my life which, not to brag, put yours in the shade. I'm not saying I'm innocent but most of them were really – in my humble opinion – not things I could have warded off (not without doing things I was unwilling to do or failing to do things I felt I had to do). Now if none of this had happened to me, I probably could have retired already so as to have my time completely liberated. As it is, it's out of the question for, well, probably for more time than is left to us. But I don't regret the decisions I've made, given all that's happened. And I can witness to the mercy and the grace of our Lord that He has NEVER left me in the lurch. I've never gone hungry, never had to go about without clothing, never even lacked a roof over my head. Things have been so tight from time to time that it was impossible not to contemplate complete disaster, but I did trust Him – and He has always been 100% faithful.
Let me reiterate something – something you know: the Lord could dump a billion dollars on your head this instant without batting an eye. Why doesn't He? You are a wonderful believer and your ministry is already bearing terrific fruit. Think how much more you could do if only you had that billion dollars! In fact, of course, I know for certain that with that much money, I'd only get into trouble and probably do even less than I'm doing now. I could already be doing more than I am, easily, even with the constraints I'm under. Why would I assume that I'd do more if I didn't have to work any longer?
The Lord knows just how to employ us. He knows how much load we can take. Sometimes it is a matter of testing us to see how we'll react to setbacks and increase in load. We have to trust Him that if what we are laboring under really is not sustainable that He will come to our rescue before we reach the breaking point. That is my testimony. He always has done just this for me. When I look back, I can see stepping stone after stepping stone He placed in front of me to cross the creek, the lack of any one of which would have meant catastrophe and total ruin. But I never hit that missing stone. It was always there. When at times I had to stretch my foot out not seeing the stone, it was always there by the time my foot came down. Wouldn't it be nice to have a wonderful bridge to waltz over instead? Yes, but not as good a test of faith.
The Lord knows what is best for us, doesn't He? If this has happened, then it has to be for good. Because He is working it all out for us for the good. We don't have to FEEL good right off the bat when something like this happens, but we do need to accept that there is a good reason for it, that our Lord loves and cares for us, and that He may just be training us for a harder future test, or He may be saving us from something we otherwise would have fallen into absent what seems to us like a terrible setback. I have had many times in my life when looking back on some such "disaster" it was plain to see that both things were true: I was being given a lesson in His faithfulness and at the same time being protected from some terrible trap.
We really are walking blind through this world in many ways, because we can't see the future and we certainly can't see the invisible warfare swirling around us. So we have to trust the Lord that He is leading us in the right direction. Like little children holding the hand of our loving Father or big brother and Master Jesus Christ, we have to trust that even though we're walking through the dark or the rain or something else that upsets or frightens us, they know what they are doing – we have experience of their strength, their goodness and their love. They've never let us down before – and they never ever will. Our job is to trust.
Remember, my friend. None of this is about us. It's all about Jesus Christ. If He wants us to be rich, we'll prosper. If He wants us poor – as Paul was poor though he was one of the greatest of the great – then that is what we shall be. But we don't have to worry about any of that. All resources in this life are only good in this life. And they are only meaningful at all to the extent that they are used for the good. If we had more, perhaps we would do more, but perhaps not – and we are responsible for what we are given, not for what we never get (even if it looked like we might get it).
As my maternal grandmother is reputed to have oft said, "blessed be nothin!", meaning, there are blessings that come to those who have no great excess of resources: simplicity of life lived that way by necessity, and an absence of the tricks and traps and troubles that come to those who have "more than nothin'".
I know you are trying to fight a good fight on this front as well as all
the others, my friend. But we can't control everything, and sometimes we
get counter-attacked. The Lord lets these things come for reasons
discussed above. We have to roll with the punches and not let these
sorts of attacks throw us off the mark too far for too long. We may
never get to the point of seeing these things for what they are
immediately, but we need to be quick to recover our balance. Remember:
no one ever fought a perfect fight. If we get the feeling that this is
indeed what we are doing, we are really only setting ourselves up for a
I've noticed this phenomenon in sports: a pitcher, e.g., who's pitching a perfect game into the sixth inning, and then the other team hits a home run off of him. OK. One mistake. But that is often the beginning of the end as the fellow's control and poise now completely collapse and he has to be yanked from the game. But if he'd given up a hit or two earlier, he might have lasted the distance. This is not to make a virtue out of smaller failures, but it is to say that if doing really well makes us vulnerable to larger ones, then we are not looking at all this in the right way.
I write all this to you in the knowledge that you know it all very well yourself, and are probably already regaining spiritual altitude as I type. We are here to encourage each other, however, so I've taken the liberty.
You are a good man, . And a wonderful believer in Jesus Christ. Keep doing what you do. There are people depending on you (me, for one). Money comes and goes (in my experience), often without there being much we can do about it. But time is a far more valuable commodity. Keep redeeming it for Jesus Christ. That is what helps all your brothers and sisters – and therein lies great reward.
Your friend forever in our dear Lord and Savior,
Thanks for the background.
Well, I still don't see how a bad business decision is the end of all things, but that is between you and the Lord, my friend.
I probably shared with you already how that when I was interviewing for jobs near the end of my Ph.D. I had an interview with the university of Michigan. This was a dream job. A first class department in a state I love and a town I love, close to family and good paying too. Well, even though I knew the interview was coming (along with a lot of others at that convention), I did almost nothing to prepare. It didn't really even occur to me that I ought to prepare (even though now from this vantage point that seems outrageously stupid – which it was). Any way, I gave what was possibly the WORST interview in world history. Needless to say, I didn't get the job (didn't even get a campus visit to be in the running). Looking back on things, I say with confidence that if I had gotten that position, I might would have been much wealthier (or rather, wealthy, or rather, not completely broke), had a prestige career with an international reputation, and been a successful Classicist in research and all things. But there probably NEVER would have been an Ichthys . . . because I would have been spending almost all of my time and energy on that job.
So the Lord delivered me from a big mistake which I probably had no chance at the time of seeing as a big mistake – since this sort of job is what all Ph.D. candidates aspire to (and at that point there wasn't even an internet). Now it would have been nice if the deliverance had resulted from me seeing that I didn't want that level of job pressure since the Lord was my life, not Classics or an academic reputation and career. Instead, He used my own stupidity to deliver me. But no matter how it happened, I am deeply grateful that it happened, and I laugh about it today rather than regretting it one little bit (except for the lingering embarrassment of being so stupid).
The lost opportunity sounds as if it would have been wonderful. But on the other hand, perhaps it would have involved you in a level of commitment to the job / career that would have taken a toll on your ministry efforts. That's just one possible explanation for why the Lord closed the door. And, after all, it was Him who closed the door. He could easily have worked things out so that what you had originally hoped for did indeed come to pass. And He could have held it open so that the small solution worked too. If you are "out of it", it might to be good to consider that the Lord knows more about all this than either of us do . . . and that perhaps you are well to be out of it – because if He had wanted you in it, you would be in it.
It doesn't mean you didn't do something stupid you regret. But praise be to the Lord who delivers us one way or the other! As we grow, we get better at allowing ourselves to be delivered "the one way" rather than "the other".
Keeping you in my prayers at all times, my friend.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
It's wonderful to see you rallying spiritually like this, my friend!
I couldn't have written anything any better to you than this. I was saved at a very early age, as no doubt I have shared. I think it was a result of fear of dying, darkness and the grave, brought on by the death of my beloved grandfather when I was only four years old or so. Great to be saved so young. But I didn't really have the impetus to grow, and then I hit adolescence. Certain testing came into my life and I didn't handle it well, but reacted to it. And there followed about a decade of prodigal son wandering in a far country – before the Lord got my attention in a very dramatic way and brought me back. And I'd like to say that after that I was laser-focused on the goal and never made any major mistakes thereafter. But it did take time for all the kinks to be worked out. No doubt my life would be quite different and the ministry quite different if I had been perfect from the start, or from the "re-start", but I've done what I've done and failed to do what I've failed to do in the past. And, like you, I can only do now what I'm supposed to do today. Nothing can change yesterday.
I suppose I should feel worse about the past than I do. But I'm just very grateful that the Lord has made some small use of me anyway, and happy to be where I am and who I am and doing what I'm doing. David was joyous throughout his years of discipline. The Lord used Paul's mistake resulting in imprisonment to have him produce some of the most wonderful epistles. Elijah had a wonderful conclusion to his ministry even though his error led to Elisha taking over, and Moses was not done writing the Pentateuch after his great failure. And in the case of these last two, their work (and reward earned thereby) is not over yet. So the Lord clearly doesn't look at these things quite the way we are inclined to look at them. Feeling that because of failure you will not have the ministry that you should have had is thus the wrong way to look at this entirely. This is what the devil tells us. But what would the Lord say? More likely that He still has a use for us, and that nothing is impossible for Him, and that, regardless of what happened yesterday, He can still take us just as far as we are willing to go with Him . . . if we are just willing to be taken there TODAY.
Keeping you in my prayers, my friend – and very pleased to have you as my brother in Jesus Christ.
Good morning Dr. Luginbill:
We hope and pray that you are doing well and that you had rest over the Christmas break.
I wanted to reach out and see if you have been able to send and receive emails from our friend? We have not yet heard from him. Understandably, there can be disruptions with the Internet and obstacles with overseas communications, but now it is we who are concerned about him. Highly unusual.
Just wanted to give you this heads-up in the event that your email correspondence with him has not been disrupted, and perhaps that you would pass along that ours may be experiencing a glitch.
Thank you so much, Dr. Luginbill.
BTW: I am enjoying SR series all over again. So many insights and new knowledge with each pass. Thank you! I also pray fervently for family and friends who still swallow the sugar pills when it comes to the Word and their overall weakness in faith. It is so hard to crack open their shells to even consider that they have bought into false teachings - and do not even chicken scratch the surface in studying God's Word.
I don't think I ever told you, but my mom and uncle both encouraged me to study at Ichthys years ago. I dipped in here and there, but about 5 years ago I started crying out to God regarding Truth. It was through asking myself and then the Holy Spirit the question, "Have I ever been deceived by false teachings?" (surely not, right?!) - that led me to voraciously dig into the studies and email threads that you provide. Thank the Lord! Boy, did He ever answer my question. So much to learn - and prepare for.
Thank you for your ministry and the guidance, teachings, and help that you gift us, Dr. Luginbill. I am truly grateful.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,
Always great to hear from you – and thanks so much for your kind and
encouraging words, my friend!
I think there are some issues with our friend's email. I have just heard from him, but a little while ago he sent me something which I only accidentally caught only by looking on the server for it.
I think a lot of server regimes / email systems flag things out of his country and maybe to it as well. I would suggest that you send him a new email – not a response to an old one (the chains seem to be part of the problem), and without any attachments or HTML (i.e., don't include your business card on the bottom as you have in this email to me). In my experience, these sorts of things can cause email failure or sequestration, especially overseas.
Thanks again for your good offices to our friend. I know he really appreciates what you are doing for him, and is a bit "driven" to try and live up to your expectations.
Do let me know if this communications problem persists. As I say, I've just received email from him and it does seem that my emails get through.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Dear Brother Robert,
Thank you for your response and for the love you've shown towards my development over the few weeks you've known me.
Since I got better knowledge, I've always had a urge for ministry and since more than 80% of the best organisations here are run by members of my church (yes, that's how much the grip of the church is on the town, we are mostly not known outside but our grip of this town is mind blowing) so I know that I will normally not thrive here, I plan to leave this little town after my Postgraduate education (after three years essentially) and move to the nearest city both to work and to start "God's work".
Finally, what's the purpose of fasting? I've been fasting and praying since the start of this year (morning to late afternoon tho) for the spirit of wisdom (Eph 1:17) and I plan to do it till January 31. This is probably the unmotivated inner me asking but- Am I doing it right? Is it compulsory to fast when praying? What's the difference between fasting and praying and just praying?
I've been praying for you too. I'm reading your post/article on Hamartiology at the moment.
Your friend in Christ,
I've been having trouble with receiving and sending email from / to you
and also our friend. Don't know what the issue is, but it is an issue. I
just saw your message on my server when I checked it, but it won't send
it to my client. So please do let me know if you receive this.
Thanks for the update on you plan. It sounds to me as if the Lord is helping you work through this. One thing I know: if you continue to pursue the truth, it will change you for the good in all manner of ways. We don't know exactly where this journey will lead us in terms of the twists and turns – but we do know that it ends at the judgment seat of Christ with a good reward and a "well done" from the One we love more than life.
So do keep up the good fight in learning and living the truth, my friend. That is what is most needful at the present moment. The Lord is working this out for you one day at a time and that is how you have to fight the fight.
On fasting, here are some links to what I have written about this at Ichthys:
The purpose of fasting
True fasting vs. legalism
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Dear Brother Robert,
Its been too long, I always think to text you daily but I've not really had time till tonight, forgive me please.
I got complacent around late January and I concentrated on many things (work, relationship and so on) at the expense of studying the Bible and praying.
Thank God though as recently, I kicked myself back to my "truth-seeking sanity" as I organised a 21-day online Bible study group among 11 of my friends that started February 1 and I've been going strong, it proved to be enough motivation to get me back on track and I am back on track now. Surprisingly too, I've found myself teaching people of my age group the truth that I know when they have problems and they always admitted that I blessed them anytime they did.
And about my church situation and family. In church, I still hear the same old doctrine based on how hard I must work to secure my salvation by myself through going to church regularly and so many other things.
On my education, I will, by God's grace start studying to bag my Master's degree next month in English language and at the same time kickstart my plan to leave home and relocate somewhere I will get a job and have the freedom to start planning for ministry.
I hope you still pray for me.
Great to hear from you, my friend! Indeed, I'm praying for you daily.
Thanks for this wonderful update. I'm very pleased to hear of your plans and your spiritual efforts proceeding apace.
I pray for the Lord to bring you safely through this wilderness to land of promise beyond.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hi Dr L,
I am sorry I am bothering you again so soon. I had a dream the beast was here. And I kept praying in my dream because I was anxious about messing up (by dishonoring God). I was waiting for it to come to me, for them to turn their attention to me and then I would be hounded on doing what the beast wanted. I was so anxious waiting, I just wanted the moment to get here and get it over. I am afraid that if I were to live through that I would not do well because I am sure the fear would show on my face and they could pressure in the right way. Even if not to get me to verbally mess up (I actually feel a bit confident that if it were just a matter of verbal I could do it), for my body language to say it (the wrong thing). I don't know. It makes me a bit angry because much of the anxiety and physical response if from childhood shellshock and it doesn't seem fair to have to carry that into such a thing. I am responding all wrong, but I feel so emotional about it. Of course I can't say that about the Lord because I am confident He would get through with any hardship thrust on Him. It is bad thinking right? And then I get upset about that. I wish I could just make the anxiety and physical overreaction go away.
I don't suppose you don't know some secret way to do that?
I wouldn't feel bad about "feeling bad". We are all occasionally knocked
off our feet emotionally or physically (and very often a combination of
both) on account of events (dreams too can affect us). The key is where
we are spiritually and how we respond to the pressure. The bottom line I
get from you is that you WOULD stand strong for the Lord no matter what.
That is the right answer and the right response. Doesn't mean we will
"feel good" about being persecuted, when and if that comes. But whatever
discomfort and annoyance we have to put up with, and no matter how bad
all that will make us "feel", we can still have peace in Jesus Christ in
the midst of the storm, because we know for certain that nothing but
blessing awaits – blessing beyond anything we can presently imagine.
So you are on the right track, and I take the fact that you had victory in your dream as a sign that you are moving in the right direction while awake. One thing all mature Christians learn is that our emotions a very uncertain guide to the true spiritual status quo. We learn to "go with what we know" by faith, rather than to "reel with what we feel" on account of circumstances. There's no "secret" – we just focus on things we know are true and reject in our hearts things we know are false. And that of course depends on continuing spiritual growth.
So keep fighting the good fight! That is where the crowns of victory come from.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
We had some sad news last week. A friend of ours known since school had a heart attack and died last Tuesday. It was very sudden and unexpected and he was only 48 years old. He was a really nice bloke. He didn't really look after himself very well (smoked and liked a drink) and I think maybe it caught up with him in the end. ___ took it pretty badly although he's a bit better this week. He was quiet last week and shed a few tears so I've been there for him giving him lots of support. Reassuring him that how he's feeling is natural - he's grieving for the loss of a good friend. I've told him not to bottle it all up (like you fellas tend to do!) but to talk to me about it whenever he wants to.
As well as that, six months ago another man he went to school with died of cancer (48 years old again). We were talking about it with ___ last week and at one point he said it makes you wonder what life is all about - why are we here? I've shared the gospel with them before and they still say they don't believe but I was able to say that because of my faith in the Lord I know exactly what this life is all about and why I'm here and that my eyes and my hope are fixed on the Lord and on a life to come with Him that is SO much better than this one. I never force it, I just take my opportunities when they come and know how much to say and when to stop.
I never really understand how unbelievers can so easily accept that their friends and relatives have died and that's it - they're just gone now. I can't ever remember thinking that way. Even when I was a child I always thought there must be a God. But it doesn't matter what I'm seeing or what I'm hearing them say about their unbelief because I have faith in my God. I know I can never make that decision for them because the Lord has given us all free will but I also know He is full of grace and mercy. As long as I'm living my life for the Lord I know He hears my prayers for their salvation and I know I'm praying in His will. I'm praying with faith every day for them and I'm confident in my God and have peace inside. I believe He works through everything that happens good and bad for His own purposes and I know He is in full control of everything. My faith is growing stronger - I really mean that.
Also the Spirit reminded me of 1 Peter 3:1-4 - Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
I've always loved that last part. I'll keep drawing closer to the Lord day by day and learning more and more about Him. I want them to see Jesus - not me.
Also, my __ has cancer and found out last Saturday that there's nothing more the doctors can do for him. So despite me still feeling wary with ___, I've been there comforting her while she's been crying too. What a cheery old email this is for you! But I feel strong in the Lord. I've got lots of people who need lots of love and support at the moment.
My friend sent me a text a couple of weeks ago inviting me to go along to a Christian women's conference near us. She did say she had never been to it before and not to worry if it wasn't my 'cup of tea'. So before I answered I had a look at what it was all about. I always do that because I don't trust anything out there now. It turns out that they teach word of faith and other iffy stuff. And the two women 'preach' to men as well. Sometimes I find it hard to say no to people because I don't want to let them down or hurt their feelings. But for me this was a choice between being faithful to the Lord and the truth or pleasing my friend by saying yes to it. I couldn't say yes to it. If I went I would feel like I was agreeing with their false teaching and I won't do that. Even if it wasn't a case of being faithful to the Lord I just couldn't sit through it anyway. It would drive me nuts! I watched a bit of last year's conference and I couldn't even understand what they were going on about half the time. It's so foreign to me now because I'm being fed extremely well with the Word and your teaching (and Curtis) since I came back to the Lord. So I replied to my friend's text and thanked her very much for the invitation, it was a lovely thought but it isn't quite my 'cup of tea' but I'm still looking forward to meeting up with her soon. She didn't reply and I haven't heard anything yet.
I'm trying to be gentle and use discernment in what I say to her about the concerns I have for her but I won't compromise my own belief in the truth just to please my friend. I want to please the Lord. I would never ever attempt to tell anyone what to do but I won't be silent about the truth I believe. This is where it's difficult when we're not quite in the same place, but like I always say I'll be patient and be guided by the Lord. It's just one step at a time following His guidance and trusting Him. I have to trust Him because I wouldn't have a clue where to start on my own. It's funny how people can talk all day to you about their beliefs and how enthusiastic they are about things that have nothing to do with the Lord but when you mention a tiny bit about your own beliefs it suddenly all goes quiet! But there you go - never mind.
There's some sad stuff in this email but I'm feeling anything but gloomy! I'm really sad about the loss of our friend and the situation with my uncle but I see lots of precious opportunities to do the very best I can for the Lord and to learn and grow myself. I'm doing ok but I need to do a whole lot better.
Your friend in Jesus
You really HAVE had a lot in a short time. Quite a number of fatalities
among the near and dear (along with current troubles), and quite young
I applaud you for using the opportunity to remind your loved ones of the gospel. Like you, I could not endure a situation where death and darkness and the grave was the only alternative – and of course it's actually MUCH worse than that. In fact, in looking back, I'm convinced that such was the prod that led me to Christ as a very young lad, namely, the death of my beloved grandfather when I was only four years old or so.
How do unbelievers do it? They have to harden their hearts against the possibility that it could ever actually happen to them personally. This is of course crazy, but then that is the whole thing about heart-hardening. It allows a person to ignore the truth. Otherwise, Satan could never have dreamed of taking on God – nor would anyone have followed him. It is more than a little ironic that unbelievers who tend in our modern west to be materialists can somehow so schizophrenically recognize the universality of death and yet still manage to imagine themselves not subject to it in effect. That it to say, they would answer correctly on a multiple choice test, but internally they are refusing to actually face the possibility of their own demise. That they be allowed to engage this heart-hardening mechanism is important, otherwise free will could not operate fairly in this world. But of course God does let the truth seep through here and there, even into the hardest hearts, so that in a perfect way they are reminded of the truth often enough, yet not to the point of breaking up the hardness . . . unless they change their thinking and repent of their bad choice through their own free will choice.
Deaths near and dear offer just such "moments of clarity", and it is a blessing whenever such individuals are given the gospel at such times, so bully for you that you have done the right and the courageous thing! This is one reason why I detest funerals where I or someone I know is not going to be speaking, because most miss the opportunity entirely, eulogizing the dead but not pointing out that the solution to death is the resurrection – which comes through Jesus Christ alone.
For the same reason, like you, I long ago lost my ability to stomach false teaching. And, if anything, I think it is harder for me to listen to diluted or polluted "teaching". Church services (where the point is not to explain and glory in the truth of the Word) literally make me nauseous. So I can also agree with your wise decision to stay away from that conference. I am praying for your friend. This sort of "seeking" where one is consistently looking in the wrong places for the wrong reasons never produces satisfaction. Like an alcoholic looking for comfort in a bottle, it's always short-lived and worse in the end than in the beginning. Where there is a spark of respect for the truth, God is able to turn it all around, even if it may take a minute for stubborn individuals (like myself). So we continue to wait patiently for Him to work, continue to pray, and continue to make proper use of genuine opportunities to stand up for the truth when that is appropriate.
Thanks for the update and the background. You are indeed a good witness for Christ, both in your life and through your words. That is the most any of us can aspire to in our dealings with the unbelieving world.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Yes, they're all dropping like flies around me at the moment!
I totally get what you mean about the hardened hearts. ___'s heart is as hard as anything concerning the gospel. He always jokes that he's never going to die - that he will live forever. Whenever he says it I always think that's just denial. He doesn't want to allow himself to think that one day he IS going to die and it might actually be real - there might really be a heaven and a hell. The whole family are just as hard. I've been to so many of their family funerals and the tears flow for a while and then that's it - it's all forgotten about and life goes on as normal (which of course it has to) but no questions are ever asked. One of them when they found out I believed said there's no God that it's "just a load of rubbish". I know there are definitely some in the family where I need to keep 'pearls before swine' in mind. My __ says he's an atheist and yet I can tell by little things he has said over the years that he's scared stiff of dying. It's really weird.
At one point I started to feel bad because I didn't think I cared enough that my family didn't believe (as in not feeling it emotionally), but then I think deep down I could see how hard their hearts were towards the truth and they had made their decision. It's not that I don't believe the Lord can turn anything around, but I also know when I'm wasting my breath. Maybe I just don't allow myself to think about it too much because it's too painful to think about. I'll never stop praying for them though. I'll do anything the Lord commands me to do no matter how hopeless it looks to me - you just never know.
Sometimes I think I try too hard for some people. But I know I can never try too hard for the Lord. At least He sees our heart and our efforts for Him. At least He cares about it and it means something to Him. I love Him with all my heart.
It's a VERY good thing that false, diluted and polluted "teaching" makes you feel nauseous and drives me nuts. If we felt at home and comfortable with it then we'd be in serious trouble.
Thank you so much for your time. I always appreciate it and it's a privilege to be able to pray for you, your family and your friend and his family too. It doesn't matter if I don't know a brother or sister or they live the other side of the world, I still feel a connection and a bond with them thanks to our Lord Jesus. I'll get back to Joshua now - Achan and his gang have just been stoned and burned with fire - only got himself to blame!
Your friend in Jesus
I appreciate your wonderful spiritual perspective, my friend. I think
you are handling all this exactly right. You are leaving in the Lord's
hands, trusting Him that He knows how to handle things in precisely the
best way, making use of opportunities offered but not going past the
point of reasonableness in doing so.
He knows your heart. He knows these people are important to you. It can be amazing how people change in the right circumstances, that is, when things get catastrophic enough. There's an old saying, "there are no atheists in foxholes". Meaning the gut-wrenching experience of an artillery barrage with the enemy about to charge when it lifts is enough to make even the most hardened heart "consider options". There are "interesting times" ahead. For all my unbelieving, lapsed and lukewarm Christian friends, acquaintances and family, I certainly hope it doesn't have to come that – but better to be saved through a horrific experience than to die happily in bed at a 100 and go to hell.
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!
The smallest part of our eternal rewards will make all of this put together seem as nothing (which in fact is what it is).
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Your email was a huge joy to me yesterday. It was not a bad day but it certainly did not feel particularly celebratory. But your email actually made me tear up a little. It means a lot to me that you sent it and so much more that you did even in such a state. I hope very much that I will be able to do as well as you soon. I certainly don't have 30 years to get there.
I have been blessed tremendously with a teacher like yourself, my fiancée, faithful friends like ___ and the ____'s and fellow warriors like my brothers and sisters in Ichthys who continue to pray for me and bless me with their correspondence with you. If I get nothing more in life, I have already been blessed beyond words. I am only struggling to be worthy of these blessings. I am grateful every time I write and see that people can actually be blessed by reading what I have written but the road ahead is so long yet.
I have prayed for your health, Sir, and will continue to try to do so until the Lord heals you.
Again, thank you very much, Sir. Thank you for sharing that day with me. It was those who did that made it a joy and you doubly so.
Your student in our precious Lord Jesus Christ
It's my pleasure, my friend.
It's always wonderful to see a believer who is grateful and appreciative of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Heaven knows we all have pressures and troubles and challenges, and it's very easy like the Israelites to whine about the Egyptian army and the lack of water etc., and not appreciate the deliverance from slavery and the total and complete provision of the Lord through each and every looming disaster. Of course we wish there was never a disaster looming. But where then would be the opportunity to trust Him? We trust that He will get us through, and, like you, we are grateful for all He has given us and gotten us through already.
Thanks for your prayers, my friend. I did stay home from work today, only the third day I've missed in 28 years for health concerns – so I need to be grateful about that. And I am! Meanwhile, I am feeling a bit better tonight and have hopes of meeting my classes on Friday (no classes tomorrow).
Thanks also for getting back to me. I know phone usage and charging is an issue there at the moment.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Well, things have exploded once again. ___ is with a barely saved, overbearing woman now (so we don’t do business anymore), our home has black mold growing out of the floor in the kids room so we had to move again last minute, only now my costs are sky high and I can’t foresee how to earn enough to make it.
Why do I have a family? Why am I alive? I must be the easiest target for Satan because I’m so screwed up, and I CANT lie or manipulate, cheat, steal my way out of things because of The Lord, so I constantly pay and can’t be a normal part of society, like at all.
I can’t afford my family anymore, I barely could before and now my bills are almost 3x higher than before! My car is almost dead and ___ is all I’ve been able to do, which won’t last if I can’t drive, but then I can’t pay for anything.
This feels like a sick joke. I barely got into koine pronouns and everything falls apart again. I have no use because I offend everyone.
I wish there was something I could say to cheer you up.
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Psalm 127:3-5 NIV
So yes, your family is a true blessing in every way – and they can help you too, even if it is not obvious at the moment how. But they also need you – because you are a definite blessing to them. NEVER doubt that. They need you and you need them. Times like this force families together in marvelous and wondrous ways, even if at the start the opposite may seem to be the case.
I am a very stubborn person, so I know what I'm talking about in this regard. Sometimes the Lord is trying to lead us in an obvious direction, but we just refuse to see what it is. If things rolled on fine and He didn't intervene, then we stubborn ones would just keep on truckin' . . . in the wrong direction. My scoutmaster used to tell this joke. It wasn't funny, but it had a point. A man had a mule and it wouldn't budge, no matter what he did. Another fellow came up, picked up a two-by-four, and smacked the mule as hard as he could right between the eyes. The mule started moving, if a little groggy. "First", the second fellow said, "you have to get their undivided attention". Reminds me of Psalm 32:9. Wish I could say that I didn't need this treatment often. But the Lord has been patient with me and given me what I needed, even if it was the two-by-four treatment to get me moving . . . in the right direction . . . finally.
Point being, when we find ourselves in a place where there is no way out, our job is to trust the Lord. The fact is, there IS a way out, but it's His way, and not our way. He can make a path for us, even if He has to part the Red Sea to do it. Our job is to trust Him that this is so and resist getting so self-focused that we fail to see the opening when He provides it.
I know that the Lord has plans for you. He has blessed you with a wonderful family – and He has blessed them with you. He is going to get you through this, even if right now, tonight, the way through hasn't materialized. There will be a stepping stone there when you put your foot down. He will bring you across, even if you never see any of the stepping stones until just before you land on them. That is my testimony. That is how He has blessed me in my life. How I have not been destroyed is a wonder and a miracle. But here I am. And that is God's grace. And you know what? There you are. And you have not been destroyed either. The fact that it looks inevitable doesn't count. If it didn't look inevitable, there wouldn't be any test of faith. Be pleased to trust in Him, my friend. He can do it. And He WILL do it. Our part is merely to trust Him that He indeed will, even when we can't see how from where we stand at present.
Sorry also to be getting to this only now. I came down with a nasty flu Monday afternoon, and I'm still spending most of the day in bed (cancelled classes today for only the third time in 28 years over a health problem). Hopefully I'll be back in action Friday.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
It's always hard to advocate on a brother or sister's behalf when they seem intent on condemning themselves.
Here is one thing I want you to hear and to hold onto and not let go.
The Father loves you.
So much that He condemned His one and only Son on your behalf, pouring all of your sins out on Him as He rose in the flames to take them all away.
Know this. Jesus' dying for you least sin is worth more than the entire world put together.
Know this also: Being saved would be worth all you've suffered and presently are suffering magnified a million-fold.
And you ARE saved. That is what counts.
Why all this is happening to you I cannot begin to pretend to understand. But that is frequently the case when we are under severe pressure. Job had no idea. Had he been privy to the heavenly conference where Satan asked for permission to test him, he might have handled it better. Likewise, we cannot see what is going on in the combat raging beyond human vision. But we do have the book of Job.
We don't know "why?"
But our job is to TRUST the Lord that He is working all things out for the good for us who love Him, even when everything we see and hear and feel says differently . . . not matter what, and no matter "why?".
I'm doing battle for you in my prayers, my friend. Be pleased to embrace the love Jesus has for you – He died for everything you have done (and everything I have done). He wouldn't have done that unless His love for you exceeds anything you can imagine.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
I understand everything you’re saying, I would rather do anything than quit. I’m just the easiest target there is I guess and that’s after so much learning and growth. I just want to please Him, I can’t seem to do anything else.
I know of no one else that could begin to understand what’s going on than you. It feels like the walls are burning down around me most days, or melting and I have an idea you know something about that. I just have no friends and my wife is so tired from kids I don’t want to overburden her and sometimes I feel I’ll explode if I don’t tell someone.
Please forgive me
There's nothing to forgive, my friend – at least not as far as I'm
I know you are not a quitter, and that's why I know I can be frank with you.
We all have burdens to bear, and you CERTAINLY have your share – no doubt about that at all. I wish I could tell you why yours are so heavy, especially in relation to other people I see. I don't know. But I do know that the Lord is fair, that He loves you, that He is working it all out for the good, and that if you couldn't take it, you wouldn't be getting it. Which is proof to me that you are indeed a Christian warrior par excellence.
This life, the Christian life, is a one way trip up a very steep and very narrow road. There is no other way to go but forward – no other good way. The fight continues to go on, whether we like it or not. So there is no other choice but to keep on fighting – or quit. And we've already established that this is not an option for you or any dedicated believer who really is putting Jesus first in his life.
Lazarus had nothing put pain and trouble while the rich man had nothing but ease and luxury – but in a very short time things were completely reversed. We're only here for the blink of an eye. What we will enjoy in the presence of the Lord for five seconds will put a lifetime of trouble in the shade – and we will be with Him forever.
I am certainly praying for your relief, my friend. The Lord knows your heart. He hears your cry for help. Trust Him. He will do it.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
It's my pleasure. If I've been of some help to you in illuminating godly
perspectives, I'm thrilled about that.
Great news on the family / friend / teacher front! It's always nice to see the Lord bring things around after we've been praying and praying for so long about something. Nothing is impossible for Him. Our part is to trust and wait.
On jobs, my main advice would be not to worry or fret too much about all this or to spend too much time and mental energy on it. The main bit of life experience I can share on all this (which in my opinion lines up perfectly with scripture and the Spirit) is that things tend not to turn out as we except or to go according to plan (often dramatically the opposite). This is not so say that we ought to make a habit of "winging it" – and you are right to be trying on the different options – but it is to say that we need to be very careful not to wed ourselves to one particular, highly detailed "option" as if this were all under our control. It's not . . . and in my experience that is a decidedly GOOD thing.
I've seen some things about the freelancing trend (happy young people in coffee shops banging away on laptops). I have my doubts. It's doubtless not for everyone. One thing I can tell you with near certainty is that it will NOT be for you if your wife has anything to say about it. And it's not really fair to marry someone with the idea that they'll come second in all things. If you feel that way, it's really better not to get married, because you're likely to mess up your marriage and your ministry at the same time.
Living in a van? Pass. Maybe during the Tribulation if you are on the run from the beast-Gestapo.
Off the grid? It has its appealing side but those I've seen go this route have to spend a lot more time and effort (and sometimes money) making it work than if they just went with the flow. And it's not as if the beast-Gestapo will have any trouble finding you.
I'm not saying it's unavoidable or absolutely the only possible alternative, but if you want marriage and children, doing things the "regular way", namely, working a full-time job, is the only thing likely to work. How in the world will you find time and energy to do a ministry then? For one thing, it would take an understanding wife who cares more about helping you accomplish your purpose for the Lord than taking the kids to Disneyland. It still won't be easy. Nothing in life is (not even living in a van or off the grid). It's not easy to be consistent devoting time to study and teaching even if you have a great deal of time or if you have very little or if you are somewhere in the middle. It will always be a difficult challenge – and a blessing. We fight the fight. That is what we do. If you stayed single you would have other challenges. It would still be difficult to engage consistently. You'd be fighting loneliness, for one thing.
If God gives you the right woman, marry her. If the two of you want kids, have kids. Serving Jesus Christ will be a day by day struggle and labor of love, one day at a time, just like it is right now.
On money management, you really need to listen to that guy you quoted. I agree 100% (absent the typos).
If you get married, what you do with any excess money (color me rolling on the floor with laughter) will be a joint decision in any case. As long as you are contributing to your 401K in something conservative so as not to pass up the free money the company is handing out, you're doing your job. Look at it every now and then when they send you statements and forget about it. Odds are we're going to lose all that anyway, one way or another.
Your wife will want a house. Period. Even when you're courting, don't even think about uttering the word "van".
Health insurance through your employer is a blessing that only a young person on their parent's insurance might fail to appreciate. Sure, everyone is yapping about how they're going to "fix it". But the national debate topic for college debate tournaments when I was a sophomore was "National Health Insurance" and the system is still the same complicated, expensive mess today it was back in the early 70's. I'm telling you this as someone who avoids medicos as much as possible. Even those of us who are way out of sorts about the whole idea of doctors find ourselves in the emergency room (or the equivalent) from time to time. If that happens and you don't have good insurance, you are sunk. The bills can be astronomical, they are only tax-deductible in a very small and almost insignificant part, and you can't even get out of them via bankruptcy. If your newborn needs an operation or you wife gets terribly sick, you're going to do what you have to do (even if you would stint on yourself to the point of lack of wisdom). So that's another argument for doing things "the regular way".
You make a good point about "exempt" positions. In the university and in the government, this more often than not results in such persons NOT putting in 40 hours; but in the private sector of course it usually means living at the job. That would be the type of job I would avoid, if I were you. The Lord knows what you need. He honors the godly thinking of your heart. He is more than able to find you just the right thing. Our job is to use a little spiritual common sense and not waste our time pursuing options and strategies that really are not going to work for us on the one hand, and avoiding the temptation of "opportunities" which are likely to kill us, our marriages and our ministries on the other.
I'm confident that you'll easily be able to figure out the right path, based upon what the Lord does provide (as opposed to a theoretical list of endless alternative possibilities).
Enjoy your interview. The ___ seems to be, from the little I've seen of it and heard from some who've been in, a fairly "civilized" service. You could probably do worse, but the military isn't for everyone (and it can be hard on marriages).
Government jobs are hard to get but filled with benefits. University jobs are also not the easiest to come by, but even here in a state that doesn't honor higher education and with all our problems at my university, I can't see how I'd have managed this ministry as it is without the relatively reasonable work regime I've been laboring under all these years.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your wonderful work. I have just started using Bible Academy online as well (due to your recommendation of Curtis’ Ministry), particularly at the moment, as a source of learning for our youngest son. I am thinking of using his site for newer believers as well.
I am copping a bit of flak lately, mostly close to home - some directly related to the gospel. As we make small progress in our faith, it has stirred up feelings and resentment Some challenges and listening and explaining have ensued. Another issue is that I bring up “religion” at parties/social gatherings. (This arises from ordinary conversation) We are still invited this Saturday night, due to my wife, (our otherwise Bible fellowship night), to a social event, as also is our Filipino Bible teacher. At social events, he is almost always asked to offer a prayer on the food and gathering-this part is acceptable to most.
I do admit to sometimes looking for opportunities to share the Truth with people (at other times I deem it appropriate to just enjoy without any reference to the gospel - and at other times just concede that it would also be a waste of energy). I am praying for the appropriate conduct and wisdom in this matter.
I am having a few difficulties at work - with one person in particular. __ said the Franklin Graham event saw 2000 people “come to Christ”. Yet at our chat, he talked about going a certain distance in the gospel and then tripping up and repeating the cycle. He said we need to “change our attitude” in regards to the gospel. I recalled something from the Bible and your teachings about the need to “renew our thinking or/and our minds”. (Another topic I need to look up again)
He liked that and jotted it down for his lessons.
I am thinking of printing out some of your emails on tithing, one or two at a time, to give to him. (He is the one who quoted Malachi to me-and handles his church’s tithes). Until we all come to the knowledge of the truth.
Sometimes I feel a bit lonely on the road, not by the sense that I am any better than anyone - I am not (and there is only One who we should strive to emulate), but it is difficult to find regular fellowship with Christians who believe closely to what you teach. At close quarters, I am told that people believe in God differently to me, and perhaps I should let them believe their way - not try to persuade them to look more closely at their Bibles, and on.
I am grateful to our Lord for the believers I can fellowship with at times.
I am grateful for your Ministry. Gradually, some of “your” teachings are making an impact on those I associate and am friends with.
I remember someone saying, Paul, I think - “if possible, live peaceably with all men”. And he tried to be all things to all people, in order to bring them to Christ. Yet, I also note, that his endeavours for our Lord also resulted in him being imprisoned and in chains. I sometimes think of his admonition in an effort to guide me also to “if possible, live peaceably with all men”; and not give offense.
There is no need to respond to these things - I realise Christians everywhere are beset by trials, and even actively persecuted even now. This is just a small update. I do imagine you to be extremely busy and so I do not need a reply - only let me know if I got the part about the chart.
I pray for you and your ministry daily.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I'm very happy to hear that you are getting help from Curt's
Bible Academy ministry
too. Reading is not everyone's cup of tea. And while there are MP3 files
now for most of the major studies (thanks to Chris B.'s fine work), it's
not the same as what Curt is doing. More exposure to the truth is
always a positive.
Good point about Paul. Doing what the Lord wants us to do will always bring opposition from the evil one. The degree to which we persevere in pushing through the flak gives some indication of the love we have for the Lord.
So thanks for the update and the perspective, my friend. I always benefit spiritual from your fine emails. Apologies for the short response. Just as I've gotten over flu and cold, I seem to have gotten some food poisoning or something. Anyway, doing a bit better with that tonight so I think I'll be able to get through my classes tomorrow.
Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend! I keep you and yours in mine daily.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
So glad you replied. Was worried that I had harangued you one time too often! I was indeed rattled from my association with GFA but have recovered now. One thing that has rattled me as a baby Christian is that there is a huckster and snake oil salesmen of every hue and colour within Christianity itself! So many wolves in sheep's clothing! That wounded my heart a bit, I was naive to think that there couldn't be charlatans posing as Christians but the bible does clearly say it is so and will be so.
As a baby Christian I do stumble quite a bit. There's been so many traps to sidestep; the Hebrew roots cult, the sacred name cult, the Gnostics and the Judaisers. Then there's the prosperity gospels and new age philosophies creeping in. Despite all this, I do feel I am growing in my faith and in spiritual instruction. I guess I need to be focusing on the milk before I move on to the hard food.
I do have a few stumbling blocks still that you might be able to help me with..
1) I know that Jesus is our sabbath rest and we are to walk in the spirit. I understand that this is the new covenant and that the mosaic law is nailed to the cross. I also know that Jesus healed on the sabbath and that sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath. However, I do trip up over two verses.
"If you love me you will keep my commandments"
"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
I know in my heart that the law was fulfilled by Jesus and when Jesus says "It is finished" I believe him. I do get tripped up by people saying that to no longer keep a sabbath either Friday night to Saturday night or on Sunday is disobedience and breaking a commandment. When I tell people that these were the shadow for things to come, they say "Is it okay to murder then or commit adultery"?
I do think about Paul saying that the Law is written on our hearts and that our hearts are circumcised but then it trips me up to hear that Paul and the early Christians kept the sabbath.
I know it must be very frustrating to hear me stumble over something so obvious but I'm very new to this and I do stumble when people give me information that seems contradictory. I should stick to your website and the other links you put up for bible study. Alas there is not bible study in the churches around me. I realise that I am a real child in faith and it makes me vulnerable to false teaching or confused doctrine.
2) I know that this is just me being neurotic (I do come from a family or worriers) but I do get tied up in a knot over the mark of the beast. There are so many theories going around that confuse me. My passport has expired and I know that the new ones are biometric and that scares me. My family have bought a holiday voucher for me and are on at me to renew my passport. The logic part of my brain tells me that the antichrist hasn't even been revealed yet and so the mark can't be the biometric passport. People can buy and sell without passports and it isn't a mark in/on the hand or head. I can't help but feel that biometrics are one step further towards it. It makes sense to me that the mark is about worship and allegiance to the beast. Would you say it's safe to get a biometric passport?
I know that I am being silly Bob, tripping up over obvious stumbling blocks but I guess I am still in infancy when it comes to spiritual wisdom. I don't mind admitting that and I am putting a weekly and daily structure of reading and study in place to amend that.
I also wanted to ask 3) I was baptised as a child (sprinkling) will I need to be baptised (immersion) now? I know that this is just an outward side and not a question of salvation but some people go on a lot about baptism and this is a stumbling block too. Not many churches around me do adult baptisms and the ones that do teach false doctrines (such a minefield!) There is a baptist church not far away. Was thinking of going there mainly to be around other Christians but also I could ask about adult immersion baptism if that is something I should now pursue.
Thanks again Bob for your time and patience with me. Thanks again for all your support, kindnesses and wisdom. I really would feel lost and vulnerable without it.
In Jesus Christ our Lord,
No worries, my friend! It's always a pleasure to hear from you.
1) We are to engage in a moment by moment Sabbath rest with the Lord now that the Spirit has come, trusting and resting in Him at all times. This is why the fourth commandment is the only one not repeated in the New Testament, why our Lord made a point of doing God's work on the Sabbath in opposition to what everyone else thought was right, and why Hebrews specifically tells us that our rest is a day by day one (see the link). Each day is our Sabbath; each day we are taking a short and enjoyable "Sabbath day journey" hand in hand with Jesus Christ – or should be – despite the shot and shell buzzing around us. So you may tell your friends that you ARE keeping the Sabbath – by walking in peace and trust with Jesus Christ "right now". But are they?
2) The mark of the beast will be a tattoo that an individual has make a formal application to have put permanently on their body. It will never be accidentally accepted since the whole point is to get people to willfully (even though there will be pressure it will not be absolute) accept the devil's son and reject Jesus Christ (see the link). And it will be clear that this is not just some incidental mark but a "pledge of allegiance" to antichrist (and a deliberate rejection of Jesus Christ).
3) Water baptism is John's baptism and was designed to prepare the Jewish people for the Messiah. Since the generation of the apostles passed, it's not even appropriate for believers to engage in it at all (see the link). That is like saying that the Messiah still hasn't come. The baptism for the Church Age is the baptism of the Spirit – as both John and Jesus affirmed:
"I baptize you with water (i.e., physically) for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11 NIV
(4) And gathering them together [Jesus] commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father (i.e., the Holy Spirit) "which you heard about from Me. (5) For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now".
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".
You are getting past all of these stumbling blocks while most Christians
in our Laodicean era are content to embrace them. So good for you! Keep
on running a good race, my friend – and feel free to write me any time.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
You are so kind and gracious! It makes me cry that you are willing to help me out with my stumbling blocks. Sometimes I feel so vulnerable but God has made it clear to me that I belong to Him, that gives me so much hope and strength.
I am starting my bible studies in earnest now. All earthly things can wait until I have organised a reading and study plan because I know that this is the most important preparation for the future that I can make now.
Going forward I will build my house on firm foundation, on rock not on sand.
Thanks again for your patience and gentle kindness to a fellow believer who has struggled at times.
You're so very welcome.
It's a pleasure to correspond with a believer who really is serious about following Jesus Christ.
Do feel free to write me anytime, my friend.
Keeping you in my prayers.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hope things are well. I was curious do you have any studies on why infants meaning young believers and children being young to let astray so easy they start out good eventually they are led astray by others believers claiming to be christians but you can see by the way they live and speak and try to hide their own sins. I'm making plans to make a trip to Red Dog California maybe next month to see someone that was led astray hopefully if possible to discuss with the person with leaders of the church there the person have a change of mind and turn back to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I'll give you some links below. In a nutshell, those without a firm
grounding in the truth, depth of doctrine understood and believed, are
easily "tossed to and fro" by false teaching (Eph.4:14). One obvious
reason for that is that if a believer has been "in the Lord" for many
years but is still immature, he/she has compromised the Lord's purpose
for their lives after salvation – which is growth, progress in applying
the truth and passing tests, and ministry to help others do likewise. So
if a person is really not interested in the truth, inevitably lies of
one kind or another will slip in to fill the vacuum.
Here are those links:
The process of apostasy (in BB 3B)
Hardening the heart (in BB 4B)
Cults and Christianity VIII
Spiritual Growth III
Best wishes for your ministering for our Lord!
Thank you being a blessing to many. I just read your response to some's question and I had interest to contact, perhaps I will get help.
I stopped attending my local church over two months ago becomes of some of the reasons you explained in your article: "Red Hot or Lukewarm?''. I was not receiving true teachings of Christ and the practice contradict a lot of truth in the bible. But since I left, I have being alone with just my family in the house, though we often have good time with God. I have attempted to go elsewhere, but still, I have not found where the truth is preached and practiced around me.
Question 1? Is it proper to still stay like that, me and my family?
Question 2? I have gotten enough witness and proof of being called to teach the word of God. At the moment, I want to start bible study groups. Can I get assistance from you?
Question 3: Please on the issue of hell and hell fire, will there be physical fire burning people, or is it going to be fire of the word of God?
Question 4: I believe that everybody will be saved at last. What do you think?
Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your kind words.
Ideally we would all like to walk across the street (or a few blocks) and have fellowship with a group of other Christians who are dedicated to learning the truth from the Bible, a place where the Bible is taught in an orthodox way, and in sufficient depth to grow up spiritually, a place where the truth and its dissemination constitute the reason for the fellowship existing. But in my country I know of only a handful of men who are teaching the truth the right way and doing so in enough volume to bring a believer to spiritual maturity. And one of the reasons for that is that not very many Christians here care enough about the truth to seek out such ministries. So the few who are interested generally have to make do with what they can find in non-traditional ways. I have had contact with a great many believers who feel (understandably) exactly as you do, but unfortunately no two of them live in the same geographic place so that fellowship can only happen "online". It is regrettable, but praise be to the Lord who has given us a way to get together and learn the truth so as to grow, so as to progress, so as to learn how to apply the truth and pass the tests that come, and so as to help others do the same! And there is mutual encouragement from this source too. Your country is a large and diverse one, but you are not at all the first brother I've had contact with from there. I'm taking the liberty of CC-ing a good friend of mine who is in the process of preparing for ministry. He can help answer a lot of your questions about preparing for ministry (I'm happy to do so as well).
As to whether what we are doing is "right", well, what are our options? Should we neglect learning and teaching and encouraging one another with the actual truth? Far from it. Should we settle instead for some traditional place where what is taught is not true at all or where there is so little of the truth being taught so as to make the exercise pointless (or at the very least very spiritually dangerous)? Just so we can shake hands with someone on Sunday morning? I don't think so. When and if the Lord opens up a "face to face" opportunity that meets our standards – or, rather, that meets HIS standards - - by all means we will go there with enthusiasm. But settling for a "mess of pottage" in the meantime is a poor bargain. [Much about this now at BB 6B: Ecclesiology]
As to your other questions:
1) Please read this link where I detail all that may be known from the Bible on the "Lake of Fire".
2) Only believers are saved (Jn.3:18). Christ died for the sins of all, but life is all about using our free will "image of God" to choose for the Lord . . . or not. Only those who want to be in eternity with Him as Lord will be; those who reject Him are not saved. Please see the links:
Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment II
Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment
Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.
Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.
Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr Bob L,
Thank you for your last conversation. You said this "I'm taking the liberty of CC-ing a good friend of mine who is in the process of preparing for ministry. He can help answer a lot of your questions about preparing for ministry (I'm happy to do so as well)."
Question: My challenge now is how to invite or gather people. How do I overcome this?
That's a question of personality and personal preference. But I think the more important question is "invite or gather" to what? There are plenty of churches out there in the world. In my country there is one on pretty much every street corner. But almost none of them are teaching the Word of God, and most of them have serious problems in regard to doing and believing things that are contrary to the Word of God.
(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.
The purpose of Christian assembly is mutual encouragement . . . through
the truth. The main way that this is accomplished is through the
exercise of spiritual gifts, the most important of which (in this
context) is the gift of pastor-teacher who teaches the Bible and its
truths to his group.
So without a pastor-teacher who is prepared to teach the actual truth in great detail, there isn't going to be much purpose for seeking to establish a formal assembly. Not a truly godly purpose, in any case.
I understood from one of your emails that you felt you might have this gift. Many Christian men do. But, sadly, very few ever commit themselves to the long and sacrificial course of preparation necessary to use it well.
If a man is gifted and prepared, the Lord will provide those willing to listen. Or, better put, where there is a group of believers genuinely desirous of being taught the truth, the Lord provides a man to teach them. In our Laodicean era, both this "need" part (willing believers) and the "supply" part (prepared teachers) are few and far between. There are few men teaching the truth because so few are interested in receiving it. But if a man ever does prepare himself correctly, the Lord will most surely make use of Him. The plan of God is perfect.
So I would answer your question this way. Even though there are many Christian institutions which devote great effort and resources to the "problem" of church-planting and development, few of these groups and efforts ever produce a church of the sort you are looking for and interested in. So instead of worrying about how to build a group, a man who is convinced he has the gift should be giving his attention and energies to becoming prepared. When he truly is, God will provide. But if he manages to assemble a group before he's really ready to lead it forward spiritually, no good is likely to come of that.
If you wish to prepare yourself to teach, our friend (copied here too) can give you some insight on that, and I'm happy to do so as well. Indeed, there is a goodly amount about that on Ichthys as you've already discovered for yourself. Knowing the truth in detail, knowing the Bible well, and possessing at least some rudimentary facility in the essential tools of studying to be able to teach (language skills, familiarity with church history and ancient history, and some knowledge of traditional theology) are not things that can be accomplished overnight, but they can be done, even more or less on one's own. But however it's done, preparation needs to precede organization. God will take care of the latter – for all who honor His desires in the former.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hello, Dr Bob,
Thank you for the quick and enlightened response. ..."If you wish to prepare yourself to teach, our friend (copied here too) can give you some insight on that, and I'm happy to do so as well"....
I wish to prepare myself afresh to teach.
This is a reliable saying: "If anyone desires the office of overseer (i.e., pastor-teacher), he is seeking [to do] an honorable work".
1st Timothy 3:1
Here are some links that will give you an idea of the things to be thinking about:
Ministry and Preparation for Ministry I
Ministry and Preparation for Ministry II
Ministry and Preparation for Ministry III
Ministry and Preparation for Ministry IV
Ministry and Preparation for Ministry V
Ministry and Preparation for Ministry VI
Feel free to write any time, my friend.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,