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Fighting the Fight XVII

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Question #1:

Robert would you pray that God would do a work in my heart and save me.

Response #1:

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you ARE saved!

"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!"
Acts 16:31

It's not a question of emotions or feelings. It's a question of accepting the gift of Jesus Christ. If you have never done so, all you need do is tell God in the quiet of your own heart that you are believing in His Son, Jesus Christ, for salvation, and you will be saved. Put yourself in His hands.

But I suspect that you ARE saved, merely in some emotional turmoil. The answer to that is not to be saved if already saved. The answer to that is spiritual growth. For that purpose, you are welcome at Ichthys at any time (at the link).

In Jesus our dear Savior who died for the sins of all.

Bob L.

Question #2:

Robert please pray for my salvation please pray.

Response #2:

I'll do so. But if you ARE saved, then we should be praying for your growth and confidence in the Lord.

If you're really NOT saved, then you need to put your faith in Jesus Christ. That's not something anyone can do but you. See the links.

Salvation: God's Free Gift

BB 4B: Soteriology

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Dr L,

I confess many times I feel a sense of unreality. It is like the physical things in front of me don't seem real, though I know that doesn't make logical sense.

And I have found I just have general anxiety however well I am doing on things; it is still there. Another and much older friend of mine said it might be leftover from when I was on hyper alert with my abusive family and that it will likely go away with time though.

Most importantly, in moments where this sense is more intense, there is a part of the back of my mind I don't normally allow to put into words what it is thinking: what if I am wrong (on the whole faith)? I sense and feel ungrounded. Constant critical questioning, and I don't know how to fix myself.

I am afraid of those moments when I really have a real moment of doubt; I know it isn't good.

Do you have any advice? Would you please pray for me on this?


Response #3:

I think the evil one is always probing all positive believers to find weak spots. It's not a sin to be tested. It's also nothing to worry about – especially when we are passing the tests. This life will never be perfect so we'll never feel totally relaxed and at ease. If we ever do/are, we're probably not paying proper attention. But that doesn't mean we can't have or we shouldn't have peace in the Lord at all times. Indeed we should!

You will keep him in perfect peace (actually "double peace"), whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3 NKJV (cf. Is.30:15)

So now that we have been justified by faith, let us take hold of the peace [we have] with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

So just keep focusing on all the good things we have in the Lord – and all the wonderful things to come.

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

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

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

On the site you mentioned that you had a good number of students right? I have been praying about that specifically. I only mean to mention this because it is further that God is listening to us right now and answers our prayers. Not that we always get what we ask for (not that that is a bad thing to not always get what one asks for).

Do you remember when David danced before the Lord and Michal got upset? I was thinking that maybe that was an example of priorities-when you put God above things like your appearance and whatnot. Not that I am anywhere near David's level of course. Just that I was arguing with myself a bit. Even with Boaz, Ruth wasn't wearing her best clothes all the time. It was only at that point when she asked him to marry her.

Anyway, I just connected those two things. Appearance does matter, but they are not at the top of the priority list. I think of this for myself but also in interacting with others, to try to take them as human beings first and foremost. But God always comes first regardless.

1st Sam 2:30: Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. 34 Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. 35 Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. 36 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, “Please, put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread.”

Is this different from when He swears an oath and it is unchangeable? I mean if He doesn't swear an oath is it that conditions might be assumed (like not treating him like those sons did)?

How does this go with that His calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29)?

Thank you,

Response #4:

Yes, I've got a full house! So thank you so much for your prayers, my friend! They have definitely been answered, so all is well for the fall. Now I just have to teach them something . . . [note: that was LAST fall; prayers for enrollment for next fall greatly appreciated, especially for first year Greek]

On 1st Samuel 2:30, there was no specific promise to Eli – the promise was to the sons of Aaron. Because of his disobedience in preferring his sons to the Lord, Eli's branch of the Aaronic family is henceforth denied the priesthood. So, you are correct, the promise was / is irrevocable (and that is paralleled by the Romans passage). In this life, we need to follow the Lord. There is no "once saved, always saved" (see the link). We are greatly secure in Jesus Christ . . . if we stay faithful to Him (Matt.10:22; 1Cor.15:1-2; Col.1:22-23; 2Tim.2:11-13; Heb.3:14).

Appearances are important . . . to people. But what does the Lord say?

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1st Samuel 16:7 NKJV

Thanks again for those prayers!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:

I have much to update you on (per the questions in your last email). I will get to those at some point. We’ve had another curveball thrown our way.

Please keep my mom in prayer. She has chronic back pain. I took her to the ER. They could not manage her pain so they admitted her.

I have been doing a lot of heavy weeping the last two days. Remembering my dad and those final days, regret for not sitting with him longer…still processing his absence. And then also weeping over my mom and her pain & not being able to help her. It’s been something! I’ve had a lot of waves of anxiety, but I’ve been strangely calm at times. Praise the Lord. That strength is not coming from me, that’s for sure.

And please pray for my strength and peace through all this!

In Christ,

Response #5:

You really have been put under a load lately! But I rejoice that you are handling things through the Spirit and the truth of the Word of God in a way that glorifies the Lord.

The enemy may be throwing you curveballs, but you are proving that you can "hit the pitching" anyway.

I am praying for your mom and have expanded the prayer request at Ichthys as well.

Let me know what develops.

In Jesus Christ our dear, merciful Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

A long time ago I said I didn't like people. I do like people. I just get tired generally and don't like being a doormat even when I can't help it.

Response #6:

"I just get tired generally and don't like being a doormat" – who would? Nothing wrong with protecting yourself. In fact, it's necessary. We have to be "wise as serpents" in this world, especially the more "harmless as doves" we actually are (Matt.10:16).

We don't want to be doormats; we also don't want to be the type of person who is always looking for one to step on. In between is good.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

Tonight I clicked on a particular subject I wanted to read about in the emails and from there I started to click on some other links and ended up reading something completely different. But that something different was exactly what I needed to read and the Spirit used one of your responses to speak to me and help me with the changes that are happening in my family. He has taught me so much from that one email response and His encouragement has been amazing!

No matter how many changes are going on around me or how messy some of it is (literally!) or how overwhelming it all seems I'm still in the fight and I'm fighting a good fight. I know that I'm serving Jesus the way he wants me to. I'm doing okay and I'm so happy about that!

I hope this gives you some encouragement too, Bob. The Lord is working through those emails in surprising ways!

Thank you so much, Bob!

In Jesus

Response #7:

That is encouraging, my friend!

It motivates me to "keep firing it out there".

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

How are you doing? Now that Bible Basics is finished, is your major project right now Peter series?

As for me, I am doing well. I've been doing evangelism in the short term, and teaching preparation for fruit in the long term. Teaching has a longer runway for production but has enjoyable brain lifting and writing which I like. Evangelism is so much fun, but sometimes lacks in-depth thought. I enjoy both!

I noticed a reader who was worried about the evangelism approach. I just read the book Tactics by Greg Koukl. It has vastly improved my evangelical encounters. Here is the link:

I was watching a short 3 minute video on "Molinism", which reminded me of you. It coincides with your teachings on free will and God's sovereignty:

In the Lord,

Response #8:


Yes, I'm trying to finish the Petrine epistles in the next year or so [note: series is finished; see the link; new series begun: Hebrews (at the link)].

Appreciate the update.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

I have been reading the site now for about a month and God is pouring out His blessings for me. I have only one problem. I am 85 years old and my eyes just don’t work too well any more. Is there an in-print book? Looking at the computer is so very uncomfortable!

I would really hate to have to give up this site. Please let me know soon. Thank you so very much for sharing the works of our wonderful Saviour.

Response #9:

Very nice to make your acquaintance! And thank you so much for your encouraging words!

I just posted something new: Peter #36: Underserved suffering on the cusp of the Tribulation (at the link [note: series now complete at the link).

As to your question, there are good reasons why I have never put these materials out to publishers (keeping control over the material is one of them). You can read more about that at this link.

*It is possible to have print shops (such as Fedex-Kinkos; Office Depot; etc.) print these out for you, but it is a tad expensive to do so.

Here's what I say on the site about printed books:

You may download these studies in a variety of formats and print them off for your own personal use (see Ichthys Archives). For two major reasons these studies are not available in traditional print format (i.e., as "books" or "booklets": 1) It is important to me to continue to make this information available exclusively on a free, grace basis; 2) I am unwilling to assign any rights to these works to any third party (editor, publisher, distributor, retailer, etc.). For more: "A question about Ichthys books", "Availability of Materials", and "Are these materials available for purchase?". Please exercise caution in attempting to print out the longer studies directly from your browser in HTML (as this will use much more paper than printing from Adobe PDF, RTF -MSWord, or WordPerfect). If you are determined to print from HTML anyway, consider using your browser's "print preview" option and 1) reduce left and right margins to zero, 2) set "scale" to around 70-80 % (this will save quite a bit of paper).

*You probably already know that you can enlarge the look of the print on your computer or IPad or smart phone to make it much easier to read. If you're not sure how to go about that – and don't have a young grandson around to show you how – just let me know and I'll try to walk you through it.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

[omitted email about being lured back into an abusive family situation]

Response #10:

This is exactly why I've been concerned about you – and precisely why I pray for you every day for armor against the family abuse you've suffered in the past.

I suppose it's true that some people have never heard of such a thing – but if so they must never read the newspaper and must have led very sheltered lives. A fair percentage of people connected to this ministry who've shared things with me have similar stories. The type of abuse may vary, but the damage done is certainly of a kindred nature.

When you intimate that these experiences have had the effect of bringing you closer to the Lord, there certainly is a biblical parallel for that: David. He was the youngest, and the indications I get from scripture is that he was unloved by his family. His father's attitude towards him when Samuel came calling is dismissive, and so is that of his brothers when he went to take supplies to them before killing Goliath. His mother is nowhere to be seen. I would speculate that either she died in childbirth or else his father suspected her (wrongly) of adultery (we know that Jesse was indeed his father). Whatever the true background, his family disdainfully sent him off to the sheep pasture and seems to have been happy to have him stay there for the rest of his life, out of sight and out of mind. God had other plans for him, however. And to our point, David the outcast committed himself to rely on the Lord from the very beginning, and that is the start of his wonderfully joyous and intimate relationship with the Lord which is obvious throughout the psalms.

Upon You I was cast from birth;
You have been my God from my mother's womb.
Psalm 22:10 NASB95

What looks to man like a disadvantage, God used for David's great advantage. I will say that David's reaction was exactly the opposite of the vast majority of human beings who feel slighted or who have been wrongly treated. Most of us react in a bitter and self-centered way, even blaming God (which is incredibly wrong-headed and dangerous). The fact that you are looking to God for help instead of blaming Him for the situation is a wonderful thing, my friend, and will redound to your spiritual growth and progress.

However, I will reiterate that trying to do right by people who refuse to appreciate it is a hopeless and helpless task. I understand that for you the issue is complicated by your sense of duty, but I would advise you to go carefully and lightly down that path, especially seeing as how even minimal engagement here has been very problematic.  This is also from David:

Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.
Psalm 27:10 CSB

In our merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

I still remember the moment I read your exhortation about the Ichthys. The saints are not afraid of physical abuse. Hallelujah!

I hope all is well with you and that you live in peace and joy.

I have also cherished communicating with you over these last years, and I am still trying to figure out a way to get the memory sticks I talked with you about. The provider will only send them from China with an airplane, I will not participate in that polluting endeavor to get them. Ill take them by boat or not at all. The one who believes do not hurry. That air cargo is for people in a hurry.

Now I have a question about manuscripts. I will try to pose the question, but all experience tell me that I will not get a satisfying answer. And if indeed my prediction comes true I hope you will allow me to make a phone call to you to get an answer that satisfy my thirst for understanding. As I read about the Septuagint and the Masoretic, I get the impression that the Masoretic is a compilation of the original manuscripts. I have heard about copper pages with the scripture hammered into them, letter by letter (amazing zeal on the writers part), which now are now mostly destroyed.

What is the earliest manuscripts we have and is the language used in them the same as the truly original manuscripts written? We know that English has changed quite a bit since 1611.... So I assume the same is true for Hebrew, also I have seen evidence that there are at least to generations of the Hebrew alphabet

So the information I want to acquire is: Do we have the original inspired texts? If yes, what books do we have them for? As far as I know we do not have the original gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

It is pretty intense for me. And I have had so serious battles I was afraid of my salvation. Now I am experiencing a time of peace and joy that is very pleasant, but not fulfilling. I need some serious help and there seems to be no one able to help me. It is not so long ago I had to admit I could not even worship. Because the true believers are to worship in spirit and in truth. That prayer was heard and I could again worship. I woke up one morning and I was utterly unable to please God.

He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
Hallelujah! The faithful God of Israel.
Isaiah 48:11

Also I wonder if you have heard about the Mandela/quantum effect that effects our scripture.

As I have personal experience with this I testify that this is a reality. In the beginning I thought it was only my mind that was damaged by all the ___ I have consumed consistently for a long time, 1995-2018. I seriously reduced the use after faith in 2010. But now I know its not me, although my mind is not functioning properly. As I said I need help, and chemicals is not what I need. I need help from God. A healing miracle.

May the eternal God of Israel grant you major blessings in all aspects of life and life everlasting in His Son Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Response #11:

Thanks for all your good words, my friend.

I've said a prayer for your medical situation.

As to your Bible question, of course we do not have the actual letter itself that Paul wrote to the Philippians nearly 2,000 years ago, for example. We don't have the original of any work from the ancient world. And with rare exceptions we don't have the original of any manuscripts in the modern world. Famous authors' mss. were sometimes preserved and sold for much money when they wrote them out longhand but nowadays things are written electronically. But as with this email, that doesn't matter. The thing we want is for the original TEXT to be preserved, not the original pen and paper (or pen and papyrus) or computer screen characters.

And I can assure you that we DO have that, for every book of the Bible.

The hows and wherefores are time-consuming to explain, so let me direct you to two recent postings where this is all laid out:

Short version (email posting); see Q/A #1

Long version (BB 7: Bibliology).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:


Response #12:

Reading your earlier email . . . and then reading this one, I think it's obvious that you're under pressure and some spiritual attack as well.

Whenever we get overextended spiritually, it's usually a case of having too much on our plate AND forgetting, at least a bit, that this isn't about us. We don't have the strength or the power to do anything without the Lord. He is our strength. He is our power. And He always helps us through, whatever it is we're having to deal with.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:13-14 NKJV

My recommendation: carve out some time for yourself; carve out some personal space; get some rest, and take the time to enjoy your prayer time, your Bible reading, your accessing of Bible teaching. We only feel "dry" when we aren't giving what counts the proper attention – not just the time, but the peace and the joy.

As to your spiritual gifts, you are using them! You are kind and witty, you are dedicated and determined, you love the Lord and you are willing to help others. You have encouraged me many times, and you have been a great help to this ministry. Does this combination of gifts have a name? Yes. Your name. I appreciate you as my fellow believer in Christ. And I know that – when and if your life circumstances allow you to expand your area of ministry beyond its already extensive ambit – the Lord will provide this to you as well.

You're on the right course, my friend. We all have days when it seems impossible. But they do pass, if we trust the Lord to see us through.

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31 NKJV

(9) And He said to me, "My grace/favor is sufficient for you, because My power is brought to perfection [only] in your weakness". (10) Therefore I rejoice in my weaknesses, in the abuses against me, in these pressures, in persecutions and disasters on account of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

(12) I know how to handle humiliation; I also know how to handle prosperity. I have learned by experience in each and every way how to handle being abundantly provided for and being impoverished, being in prosperity and being in a state of deprivation. (13) I have the strength to endure all [extremes] in the One who empowers me to do so.
Philippians 4:12-13

9) And [so] let us not grow weary of doing the good [work of God], for at [the appointed] time we will reap [our reward], provided that we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Thank you so much from my heart for everything you wrote to me. It was amazing and helped me and encouraged me so much.

[details of ministry omitted]

So it's no wonder I've been getting some stick from the enemy. I've been taking the opportunities the Lord has given me. We've still got a long journey ahead but I have faith that the Lord will use a very difficult situation to turn them around.

Thank you so much as well for everything you wrote about my spiritual gifts. It really lifted my spirits and was just what I needed to hear. You've helped me to understand spiritual gifts in a much clearer way. I could never quite get it when reading how there are so many gift combinations and ministries. I think I was very limited in my understanding of this. I knew the gifts written in the Bible are only a small example but I still wondered what other examples of the gifts might be.

In our dear Lord Jesus

Response #13:

It's my pleasure, my friend.

That's super news about ___! I know a great many people who have wanted to have that kind of confirmation about their loved ones before they passed on, but never got it. Good for you that you were able to bring these truths to remembrance, and congratulations on the fine work you're doing with ___ as well. Yes, that IS ministry. Just because it's directed towards the people we care most about doesn't mean it "doesn't count".

I'm also very pleased to hear that you've "got it" on the issue of spiritual gifts. I think (as I've written) that the traditional church-visible has done a great deal of damage on this issue by getting people hung up on specific gifts defined in terms of traditional ministries – which in the vast majority of cases over the centuries have not been true ministries at all, carried on by people who were not really gifted, if even they were saved. I can tell you that if you polled a thousand traditionalists my own score for this particular ministry would be VERY low with only a handful even being willing to concede that, well, it is some sort of ministry perhaps. But it's what the Lord led me to, and I'm thrilled to have it and happy to have a role in it. I have strengths and weaknesses, and my own "cocktail" of gifts, as we all do. They enable me to work at this particular ministry in a consistent and, I dearly hope, effective way that has produced results for Jesus Christ. To my mind, that is what we all should be shooting for. NOT for some specifically defined gift – with our name on a certificate that says we have gift thus and so. NOT for some church/denomination approved ministry which is regulated and limited by the church/denomination. Rather, we should be on the lookout for what the Lord Himself has for us, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. He will bring the right opportunities to those who continue to prepare and wait on Him.

He's already making use of you in regard to family and friends (of which later group I'm proud to be a part), and also in regard to this ministry: you have been a very great help to me. How this will expand in the future, only time will tell. I can tell you that when I began the Bible study which is the original antecedent of Ichthys, I had not even the foggiest about what eventually happened. That is also true when the Bible study turned into a "study by mail" ministry, and also when I first ventured on the internet some __ years ago. At that time, email was pretty new, and I had no idea of answering Bible questions through email, let alone posting responses. All that came later, and in the early going I only posted one Q/A at a time. Things just expanded as the Lord led them to expand.

There's always been "plenty to do". And you have so much on your plate right now it's maybe not the worst thing that "the next thing" hasn't yet presented itself. But in my experience, in due time just the right opportunity to serve the Lord in a more expanded role will present itself, one that meets your very special and blessed combination of gifts (just as happened for me) . . . even if we don't have a fancy name for the gift-combo or for the unique ministry the Lord has for you. Our main job is to keep getting ready so we don't miss the boat when it floats by.

Link: Spiritual Gifts (in BB 5)

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

I'm really happy that I understand the spiritual gifts better. I know where I'm going with this now. I can continue to prepare and improve on the things the Lord has already given me to do where I am now (which is where I'm happiest) and I'm really excited about that.

I'm always so thankful to the Lord for leading me to you. I wouldn't be where I am now spiritually if it wasn't for you and your teaching or doing what I'm doing for the Lord in helping you and our brothers and sisters.

It doesn't matter what score the traditionalists would give you and the ministry. It doesn't matter what they think - the only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks and it's Him that we aim to please.

It was lovely to read how Ichthys started and how it has progressed into what it is today. And happy 24th anniversary for last Friday!

What a beautiful and loving God we have in giving us these gifts to serve each other and to glorify Him. It's such a privilege.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ

Response #14:

It's my great pleasure – and thanks much for your gracious and enthusiastic words. I'm grateful to the Lord for Him leading you to this ministry too!

". . . the only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks and it's Him that we aim to please". Amen! We all need to keep in mind at all times that we will be standing before our Lord in no time at all. When we do, all this extraneous stuff that clutters our lives, much of it necessary now, will mean nothing then. What will matter will be how we have fought this fight for Him, in thinking, saying and doing what was pleasing to Him and beneficial to His Church. At that time we won't regret a single prayer, a single time we focused on the truth in spite of pressure, a single word of encouragement given, or a single thing we've done to grow, to progress and to help our brothers and sisters in Christ do likewise.

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"
Matthew 25:21 NIV

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thanks so much, Bob. This is so true and important.

"We all need to keep in mind at all times that we will be standing before our Lord in no time at all".

Even with the pressure that I'm under right now, I want to make sure that everything I think and say and do is pleasing to the Lord. While I've been going through this the Lord has shown me some rough edges in me that need smoothing out and I'm very happy for Him to do that. Sometimes these pressures and tests make us realise where our weaknesses are. Thanks for reminding me of 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

The more pressure there is now the more I'll be trusting Him and focusing on the truth. I'm having to use a great deal of discernment too and BB 6A has some great teaching on that.

So whether the going is good or the going is tough I want to be fighting a great fight for the Lord. Continuing to grow spiritually and using those gifts we talked about. We can still be storing up so much treasure in heaven no matter how much is being fired at us.

Wishing you a restful weekend and keeping you and yours in my prayers.

Your friend in Jesus Christ

Response #15:

That's right! We have a reward to look forward too. In fact, what's the point of us being here after salvation except for that? And as long as we are down here in enemy territory, taking this daily pounding (which is often intense), well, we might as well do a good job and earn a good reward (see the link). Whining and complaining aren't helpful in that regard, they don't make us feel any better, and they don't do any good.

"Do not store up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and corrosion eat them away and where thieves dig through and steal them. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor corrosion eat them away and where thieves neither dig through nor steal them. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

(10) But you, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also belittle your brother? For we will all stand before God's tribunal (11) as it is written: "As I live", says the Lord, "every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will praise God" (Is.45:23). (12) So then each of us will give an account concerning himself to God.
Romans 14:10-12

For we must all stand before Christ's tribunal, so that each of us may receive recompense for what he has accomplished through this body, whether it be good or worthless.
2nd Corinthians 5:10

(10) According to the grace of God given to me like a wise architect I have laid down a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay another foundation except the One that has been laid down: Jesus Christ. (12) And if someone builds upon his foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, [or] with wood, hay, and stubble, (13) [in either case] his work will be made manifest [as to its true quality], for the Day [of judgment] will make it clear [for what it truly is], because it will be revealed (lit., uncovered) with fire. And the fire will evaluate (lit., "assay") the work of each person as to what its [true] quality is. (14) If anyone's work which he has built [on his foundation of faith in Christ] remains (i.e., is not burnt away by the fiery evaluation), he will receive a reward [for it]. (15) If anyone's work is burnt up, he will suffer the loss [of any potential reward for it], but he himself will be saved – but in this way [just described] as through fire [which evaluated his false works as worthless and burnt them up].
1st Corinthians 3:10-15

Thanks for sharing your wonderful attitude! Your enthusiasm is contagious!

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

I feel like a monster. I'm tempted to do so many vile things, even questioning if they're bad or not! I'm so tempted to incorporate magic into so many things. I can't take it anymore. This hard heartedness is killing me inside. I sometimes give in in my mind. Its insanity in its purest form. it's true Hell. I just want to end it all and be with the Father. Please help me.

Response #16:

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you.

If you are in fellowship with the Lord, having confessed your sins (1Jn.1:9), then the Spirit will help you – to the extent that you are willing to be helped.

The Spirit is God. There is nothing He cannot do for you. The one thing that He will NOT do, however, is to violate your free will.

What that means, is that YOU have to trust Him to help you endure temptation, pushing it away at its farthest distance and giving yourself over to the truth instead.

But of course without sufficient resources in your heart, namely, the truth listened to, believed, remembered through repetition and applied, you're not giving the Spirit much to work with.

So be pleased to devote yourself to spiritual growth – and God will bring you through. It's not magic, so to speak; it's hard work, but certainly worth it.

Question #17:

I'm worried again...yes, it's worries about being reprobate/apostate. I have very blasphemous thoughts that are quite willful whenever I realize how wicked I really am. I sometimes argue with the Lord over the most evil kind of people being given a chance. Just a while ago I had thoughts of getting __ and how I would vow to make sure they go to Hell if they did that to me. Then the Lord rebuked me and told me He wants everyone to be saved. Then I started arguing with him, very soon I was blaspheming Him. Am I apostate?

Response #17:

You can't even see the Lord. How can you argue with Him?

You need to learn to listen to the Spirit. His voice is a still, small voice that only suggests to us the right course through reminding us of the truth we've bothered to learn and believe.

So learn the truth. Commit yourself to spiritual growth. Read your Bible – and believe it. Speak to the Lord in humble prayer – and believe that He is hearing you (He most certainly does). And by all means be reading into this ministry aggressively (or some ministry teaching the truth in a substantive and orthodox way). Believe the truth you are learning. Live the truth you have believed – in the power of the Spirit (link). That is the only way to peace on this earth.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27 NKJV

Question #18:

Hello Bob -

It’s been awhile. I wanted to talk with you for a bit. It’s coming up on a year. __ was the day he was admitted to the hospital and the last day I heard his beautiful voice. ___ is the day we had to say goodbye.

My God has brought me along way since this has happened. I am in no way healed, but my melt downs are fewer and shorter. I’ve gotten to the place where I am truly happy for ___. I can only imagine his happiness and the love around him. He is in a good place and I’m very thankful to be blessed with knowing this. I come to see him 4 to 5 times a week. Sometimes I talk with him and other times I just sit with him. The evil one intrudes sometimes, but I’m thanking God for the memories good or bad and since he can’t fight that he leaves me alone.

I don’t know you at all, but I’m thankful for you. I can tell you my heart and you hear. Thank you for your prayers and for being my friend.

Happy Thanksgiving Bob.

Response #18:

It does take time for very deep wounds like this to heal. I have been in a place of inconsolable grief before myself, and it really threw me for a loop for a good long time. But it does get better, especially if we are confident that the one we've lost was a believer as in your case.

Your godly perspective and your standing fast in the face of attack is really impressive and a sure sign of spiritual growth. I'm "thankful" for that. Be pleased to keep that up.

(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of compassion and all encouragement, (4) the One who encourages us in all our tribulation so that we in turn may be able to encourage those in all types of tribulation by means of the very encouragement which we ourselves received from God. (5) Because as our sufferings for Christ multiplied in service to you, so through Christ did the encouragement we received multiply to the same degree. (6) So if we are experiencing tribulation, it is to provide you with encouragement and salvation. And if we are being encouraged it is for the sake of the encouragement you have received, which is now at work in your successful endurance of the same sufferings which we also experienced. (7) And so our hope for you is a solid one, since we know that as you have become partakers of suffering, in the same way will you also become partakers of encouragement.
2nd Corinthians 1:3-7

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
1st Thessalonians 4:13-14

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Dr L,

So you know how they used to say, "sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you?" And many people will try to say that verbal abuse isn't so bad, after all at least it wasn't physical. But it seems to be well known now that stress and emotional pain can really harm you physically after all. Especially the perpetrators. There is even a real thing called broken heart syndrome that feels like a heart attack and does have physical effects (but is not an actual heart attack). It just really goes counter to that old notion. But it does fit the much older notion in the Bible that our words can indeed be like poison and tear someone down. It seems that isn't just metaphorical.

It just makes me read those verses differently. What if it really is meant that you really can hurt someone physically with words just like if you punched them?

I do think it also does mean that verbal abuse is a serious thing, and that you didn't touch the person, does not mean much.

2) I made friends with someone I like online. And we have some things in common.To answer the truly important question: __ is a believer but does not obey. I don't understand how someone could be or think like that. So it is a no go. But just, that whole attitude, I don't get.

Anyway, I hope you are well! The holiday months are here!

Response #19:

It's a bad "proverb", and you are correct that there's nothing like that in the Bible. Best I can do in apologizing for it is to say that for a believer who is walking close to Jesus Christ, we should not allow slander against us to upset us overly or trip us up – especially if as is often the case for mature believers we are receiving this slander for Christ's sake. In that case, it is an honor, one that leads to great reward.

(22) "Be happy when people revile you and exclude you and reproach you and disparage your reputation on account of the Son of Man. (23) Rejoice and leap for joy in [anticipation of] that [future] day, for behold, your reward in heaven is great; after all, your ancestors treated the prophets in the same way."
Luke 6:22-23

At least __ is honest about it. Very few Christians today actually obey the Lord so as to do what He wants from them in this life; many think that because they go to "church" and conform to some stultifying, man-made legalistic standard that they in their "holier than thou" legalism are "good Christians" – when instead they are legalistic, spiritual babies. A person who "gets" that they are in the wrong is at least not blind to the fact that he needs to straighten out. Doing that is another issue of course. So prudence is indeed recommended in having anything serious to do even with other putative "Christians".

What's important in this life is our relationship with Jesus Christ.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 NKJV

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

[omitted email on escape from abusive relationship]

Response #20:

I'm encouraged – and relieved – to hear this. To tell you the truth, I was getting a bit concerned. It's SO easy to get sucked back into this sort of thing even after escaping. And it often takes multiple escapes until a person is really willing to stay free. Abusive relationships are like that. Some people just have a hard time admitting to themselves that, no, it's NOT their fault, and that, no, there really is NOTHING they can do to change the situation – because they cannot change another person's free will. That is the real lesson. People have to change on their own, and it is VERY rare for anyone involved in any chronic bad behavior of any sort to actually ever be getting around to changing unless and until consequences catch up with them (and usually not even then).

It really does sound reasonable to me – and salutary – for you to focus on your own health and spiritual growth and to doing right by your immediate family. These are our first obligations, and they are often impossible to meet well if we keep getting sucked back into the past.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
Genesis 2:24 NKJV

The above applies the other way around as well; it's just wasn't important to state in the ancient world because, of course, the woman went over to the husband's side – but this verse shows that separation for the family to form the new family is always necessary. And we can all see the reasons for this very clearly if we have even a modicum of life experience.

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

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