Lots here! I'll try to answer the main concern(s). Please don't feel shy
about writing back as this will be very much a synopsis of my thinking
Life is complicated. Life is difficult. And we make it more so by the decisions and choices we make. Instead of simplifying things, we all have a tendency to do the opposite – especially unless or until we've learned some hard lessons.
No one likes being lonely, but the opposite has its problems as well. Friendships that last and endure and are meaningful are few and far between in this life, in my observation and experience. Good, mature, Christian friends know how to give each other "space" and can have a relationship which endures without needing to be "worked at" constantly. The more "work" a relationship takes, the less "good" it usually is. Marriage is different, of course, because once contracted it is not optional or a matter of choice as friendship is. Plus, of course, living with someone is always problematic:
Restrain your foot from entering your friend's house [too often], lest he get his fill of you and come to detest you.
In terms of how people think, I have to tell you that I am no fan of
psychology. Reading the Bible is worth so much more than a psych or
related degree that there is no comparison – if we're talking about
reality here. At the university, psych is the largest and most popular
major. People seem to get a kick out of having "special insight" into
other peoples' hearts – and also from telling others what to think and
what to do (professionally, if they become therapists). At the
university, we have an entire department of Brain Science. To me, that
is all a big waste of money (psych too). Human beings have a spirit
which is the real "us". People who deny the existence of
the spiritual as a tenet of faith (ironic that materialists have such
strong faith – in something wrong), have no chance of ever figuring out
"what really makes people tick". The insights they do provide are
usually either beyond obvious or highly questionable – even if they have
developed a huge vocabulary and lots of acronyms to categorize their
When I was in school, there were a few who had "issues" for which they sought psych and related care. Now it seems that all my students have some acronym problem or other – and documented to! I do feel for anyone with "problems" and stresses, but at some point, as one of my elderly colleagues said one time (to me in private), "they really just need to get over it!" My thinking as well. Besides, "so what?" if we have "problems"? Everyone has problems because the world is "problematic". No one gets a free ride. Even the rich and famous do drugs and alcohol to cope – and end up committing suicide. Jesus Christ is the only solution – and He is the solution for everyone and to everything. Links:
Christians and Mental Illness
Claiming the Mental and Spiritual High-Ground
Suicide, Good Works, and Salvation
Drug use and scripture
I'm not even sure what a "genius" is, but I am positive that
exceptionalism can't really be accurately divined from a test. Newton
and John Stuart Mill and Einstein were smarter than me . . . by a
lot (obviously)! And possibly also the guy driving the bus and
the guy picking up my garbage. So what? God gives us everything we need
to do what He wants us to do. Our job is to respond – and
we are rewarded according to our willingness to do so. And He has given
us the Holy Spirit who is God and who is capable of overriding all of
our limitations – if we are willing to trust the Lord and respond.
Worrying about all manner of details that no one could ever really sort out is just a waste of time. We know why we are here. So "let us be up and doing" as long as the Lord has given us another day to do so. Everything else is just distraction.
Keeping you and in my daily prayers, my friend, for all these matters!
I share your skepticism, my friend.
As to "I didn't understand anything in your response the first couple of times I read it", this reminds me of my students:
Students: [all scratching their heads after one of my lengthy explanations]
Me: "Did I confuse you?"
Them: [all shaking their heads vigorously in the affirmative]
Me: "Then my job here is done."
Soldiers, as it turns out, do care too. "Buddies" are the glue that keeps them going in difficult circumstances. You and __ are both exceptional individuals. It would be hard enough to maintain a friendship if you weren't working on something together. That's just the way these things roll. Reminds me of me and my "buddies" at seminary. Trying at times, but well-worth the effort to keep up with over the years.
Another test has come in straight on the heels of that breakthrough I
had (this seems to be the pattern). I think God wants me to grow up
pretty quick! If I react badly at first to a test but later with faith--
is that a failed test? Obviously I want to respond to everything in the
first instance with faith, not to take it personally, not to grumble, to
be professional about it and persevere in faith.
This part that you wrote in particular really is an "aha" lightbulb moment for me:
"So we need to bear it; (suffering/testing) more than that, we need to learn to rejoice in bearing whatever it is that comes our way. That is not natural. It is completely against the thinking of this world. It is supernatural, the point of view that God holds and that we need to learn to share through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that we feel we have come to the end of our resources and patience is actually a good thing, an important thing. That is because only then can we really rely on God truly and completely . . . knowing that we have no one and nothing else to rely on"
I actually wept when I read this but with tears of joy and I nodded
along in complete agreement with it. Of course I knew this deep down.
After all, when your body fails and your mind fails, when your
surroundings are threatened and even your loved ones don't know how to
comfort you, what else is there?
It's heartbreaking to know people, one who was an important friend of mine, chose suicide rather than turn to God. Hopefully he had a last minute regret or prayer for help but I've also had to face the fact that maybe he would have never chosen God even had he lived a million lifetimes over.
Also, I have just read these two on the "power" of positive thinking!
"There was a faith-healer from Deal
Who said that though pain is not real,
When I sit on a pin
And it punctures my skin,
I dislike what I fancy I feel."
Also...there is a story of a boy who went to a Christian Science practitioner and asked him to pray for his father, who was very ill. “Your father only thinks he is sick,” the man told the boy. “He must learn to counter those negative thoughts and realize he is actually healthy.” The next day the boy came back, and the minister asked how his father was doing. “Today he thinks he’s dead,” replied the boy.
I get two differing viewpoints from my family on suffering and neither of them are biblical. Catholics believe in "offering up" their suffering and they believe it joins with Christ's sufferings to form the atonement. Of course this is complete blasphemy to teach this, as though our suffering could even pay for one of our own sins!
The other one I get a lot of is "positive thinking". I know that people think these words are harmless enough but they have such a loaded meaning and heavy connotation that I try to never use it and point out to people the false spiritual teaching behind it.
People think it means "thinking optimistically and hopefully" about a bad situation. It goes a lot deeper than that. It is actually a teaching from Buddhism and is represented by the white/black "Yin Yang" symbol. It has totally permeated all western thinking and culture now that you cannot avoid it at all. It is at the heart of the New Age religion and you can see the same false teaching in false Christendom like Norman Vincent Peale's "Power of positive thinking" to Robert Schuller's "positive imaging" to the prosperity gospel "praying for a yacht", which is really no different to the occult's "law of attraction" at all! (Hopefully I will put this together for a paper. I have lots of ideas now in terms of studies on false teaching that I will have to bring it all together. Maybe this is my call to ministry!)
Back to "positive thinking". The root teaching in this is that WE control reality, outcomes and destiny WITH OUR MINDS!!! Yes God is not a part of this process whatsoever. This can only mean that the implication of this "mind control power" we all possess can only mean one thing, that "we are gods" which is a core teaching from the new age.
Even science now backs up these "teachings" with studies on such things as brain plasticity. They agree that we can change ourselves with our minds and even heal ourselves with the brain. It is not such a big leap then to say that if we can control our inner being with our minds that we can control our outer reality also. In fact the behavioural sciences already teach this! In my psychology A Level I was taught that everything was subjective and there is no objective reality, only "perception" or perceived reality.
So you can see that the Devil has been really busy in both religion and science to dispute what is very obvious to an unbiased observer. That there is an objective reality and objective truth that is completely separate from us and not dependent on us at all! When I die then the world carries on as before. We see this every time we lose a loved one. Despite the pain of loss, life carries on. For subjectivity to be the true reality it would mean that the world would cease to exist after the first death!
Another way of looking at it would mean that you don't actually exist at all but are merely a figment of my imagined reality! So if I stop thinking about you then you stop existing but when I do call you to mind that you spring back to life!
Of course this is utter drivel and merely the road to a nervous breakdown. The "sciences" actually contradict themselves on this as they claim that a baby lacks "object permanence" so that when a mother leaves the room then the baby believes she ceases to exist. It is only through the development of the brain than the baby learns that there is an objective reality outside of their own experience which is not dependent on their existence at all!
So positive thinking completely relies on the beliefs of subjectivity and that humans are gods and can control reality with their mere thoughts.
Thankfully we know the truth and are freed from such falsehoods that the locus of control is with God and not ourselves but that the limited control we do have (our free will) can be used to choose Jesus, choose life, choose hope and the deliverance from our sufferings while we wait for our Kingdom where there will be suffering no more!
You've really helped me out here!
Good analysis of the "positive thinking". Pop psychology of any stripe
only differs from actual psychology/psychiatry in that 1) it is far less
expensive, and 2) it may actually have a grain of truth to it (which is
why it sells) . . . but just a grain that is then exploded into a
In terms of passing tests, it really is wasted effort to worry about just exactly "how we did". If we spend too much time and effort on that sort of thing, we'll miss and fail the next one for sure. So, other than a very short post mortem such as "I could have handled that better!" and resolving so to do the next time, we need to have very short memories about such things. We can rest assured that we won't lose a single iota of the reward we are earning, and the best way to keep earning more is to "forget what lies behind" and keep charging forward for the Lord.
I'm very happy to hear that these materials have been helpful! Your good approach and spiritual growth is encouraging to me! So that is ministry too. None of us is perfect in this fight – and it is a fight. It's nice to remember that we're not fighting it alone.
In Jesus who is ever with us through all of our trials and tribulations,
Thank you so much Bob!
It's really good to know that my encouragement helps you as that spurs me on also!
I am guilty at times of still looking at the world with a worldling's eyes but I am slowly losing this to see with eyes of faith.
I mentioned it before that I am very aware now that Satan has not only convinced the world of its immortality but also that heaven is a place that can be made here on earth (whether through material aspiration, do-gooding or political involvement). I am glad to say that I see through this also and thoroughly understand the extreme temporal nature of this world and the absolute folly in investing in it in any way.
Of course this is what Ecclesiastes and your series on the Satanic world system is all about but it does take a while to reach that point of Epignosis doesn't it, when you not only truly understand but know and believe it to be the case and put it into spiritual practice.
Not only that. This is a constant fight. We need to be continuously on
the alert. Even great believers of the Bible stumbled occasionally. So
it's not as if we can ever afford to let our guard down (see the link:
"alertness"). Holding onto the "mental high ground" and walking closely
with the Lord at all times is not something we can ever
afford to take for granted. Otherwise we may be doing very well in the
AM then crash and burn in the PM. As we get longer in the tooth,
spiritually speaking, we certainly should get better at
this. But in my observation and experience, that will only even be
potentially the case if we continue with an aggressive program of
spiritual growth. Get lackadaisical and back off of the good
application, and things may seem OK for a while, but in a very little
time we will find out just how far we've slipped. If we're not climbing
up the rock face, we're slipping down, inevitably. And holding on in the
face of storms is not so easy, even for experienced climbers. So on the
one hand, don't get down on yourself for not being perfect. And on the
other hand, never ever assume you've "arrived" – or you're sure to get a
nasty shock in no time at all. The best we can do is keep fighting the
fight, one day at a time, one step at a time. That's the way to New
Jerusalem and a good inheritance therein.
Keep up the good work, my friend!
It was interesting to me because I had noticed in some of the ancient
works I read that sometimes the warrior/hero/man of God does get
emotional and have moments, and I was asking myself when is it okay to
be emotional. Because it does seem very undisciplined the way many
modern stories have it. You don't want a leader getting emotional at the
wrong critical point.
And I would say that I get the sense from the Bible that we are supposed to work and maintain the right emotional attitude (that the more extreme shoving-your-emotions-down all the time isn't good either).
When it comes to leadership, making good decisions and doing so with
integrity is the key. It really doesn't matter if the leader is
emotional or not as long as this is true – unless emotionalism skews the
decision making process or influences him/her to do things that are not
in fact good or just.
Similarly, it's clear what we are supposed to think, say and do as Christians (clear, that is, for those who are diligently studying the Word). If we feel good or bad or indifferent about it is of no consequence . . . unless we allow our emotions to put us off the right track.
As we grow, we learn to motivate ourselves. As I often say, if we do follow the Lord consistently, eventually our emotions will catch up and keep up.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:1-2 NIV
For this world in its present form is passing away.
1st Corinthians 7:31b NIV
I also feel like maybe I should say...I have read a number of times that
you haven't met many believers helped by charity. I get an impulse that
I should tell you that the Methodist Children's Home is a nonprofit that
I stayed at that gets a lot of charity (I mean when I was still a
minor). Not to disagree but I can't quite explain why I feel it is wrong
to keep that in. Some charities do some good, but it could be argued
that there are better ways than the way they tend to do things (I mean
if you have people make bad decisions constantly and THAT is why they
need constant help, kind of thing, some people just take advantage of
the anonymity and lack of knowing the persons involved to take
I also wanted to say that I am very cautious of psychology as you are. But I do think that nowadays when there is no village left and the family structure is falling apart, and many kids don't get taught basic things, I can see counselors helping to bridge that gap a bit. Maybe. I don't know...
Thanks for the charity report. I certainly wouldn't want to say that no
one has ever been helped by institutionalized charities. It's just that
in my own life experience I have known a great many people who have
needed help but never got it from that source. And also that if we give
something to a fellow Christian in need we know that someone worthy was
helped; if we give to a charity, we have no idea who if anyone was
helped or how much of what we gave actually "got through".
On psych, I also usually always say that I have known people who have been benefited by counseling and medication, so I would never tell anyone that it's wrong to do. But I do think that anyone who is spiritually mature and walking closely with the Lord is much less likely to need it.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5 NIV
Just out of curiosity I listened to something the other day about Biblical counselling - not including secular psychology just purely counselling from the Bible. After listening to it I noticed that really all the counsellor was explaining was hearing, believing and applying the Word to your life. He was just describing it with different words but it was basically the same thing. Helping people to apply the Word in the circumstances in their lives or the suffering they're going through. It got me thinking that if a believer reaches spiritual maturity then shouldn't they mostly be able to work their own way through these difficulties with the truth of the Bible and in the power of the Spirit? Should there ever be any need for them to see a Biblical counsellor for anything? Or really what these trained counsellors are doing is what we should be doing for each other all the time anyway. Teaching, comforting and encouraging each other through the Word.
How does a "qualified" Biblical counsellor differ from an "unqualified" spiritually mature believer who teaches and encourages other believers through the Word? Maybe I just don't know enough about what "Biblical counselling" actually is. Maybe they can help people with more severe problems. At the end of the day it still all comes down to that person believing and obeying the Word.
It just got me thinking. What do you think?
Keeping you in my prayers!
Re: "How does a "qualified" Biblical counsellor differ from an
"unqualified" spiritually mature believer who teaches and encourages
other believers through the Word?", well, for one thing, fellow
believers who are not professionally trained don't charge anything for
such help – and they stand to do a better job because, in spite of the
fact that they are not "professionals", they may be better at it out of
1) being gifted by the Spirit, and 2) being spiritually mature,
something I doubt is the case with most Christian counselors. Also,
there is the personal factor, getting help from someone you know who
clearly cares about you as opposed to thoughts from a perfect stranger.
I always hasten to add at such times that I have known multiple individuals in my life who have really needed help (from suffering extraordinary abuse) and who apparently really were helped by therapists (not necessarily Christian ones). But I'm with you: if a mature believer suffers trauma, the Lord and His grace are sufficient – along with the help that the Body provides to itself (or should).
Thanks for those prayers, my friend. Busy day today doing fence repairs, other repairs, and general maintenance. More yard work on the agenda for tomorrow. Back into research mode on Monday next.
Keeping you and your family in my prayers as well.
So in the MBTI personality theory there a type of feeling (Fi: introverted feeling (but also values, morality, and that area)) where morality is more of a 'this is what a good person would do, so this is what I will do.' Or 'I won't be that kind of (evil) person.' In other words when they do right or wrong, it is more about the person with that Fi than who or what they are affecting/acting in regard to. More about their identity than those around them. Of course the Lord is naturally good. Just I wanted to share that.
I'm not much for psychology typing. It seems to me not much different than astrology – supposed "insights" into behavior patterns which in fact are common to all human beings.
Would it be bad if I asked you if I pegged you right (strike very
quickly and hard, and maybe even in an unconventional way (to not be
easily countered/to be faster/more effective))? You don't have to answer
of course! I will get over it if you ignore this.
I am getting dailies again.
I'm not into psych-pegging, personally. Don't put much stock in psych
overall. As mentioned, it's very much akin to astrology in how it
functions, as far as I can tell. There are "characteristics" which to
one degree or another fit everyone, so you pick the type you like with
the qualities you like (or can glory in feeling bad about), and feel
better about yourself – for nothing in particular you've done. "I'm a
___ (fill in the blank with your sign or type) and so I possess all the
great things (or suffer from the terrible things, giving me excuses as a
result) that __ (this sign or type) possess!"
Good to hear you're back on track!
Robert.......you say if we don't control our thoughts, words and
actions, who does? I agree with the words and actions part...but the
thoughts part some people, like me, are incapable of controlling. Do you
know why it seems these days everyone has some "alphabet soup" mental
illness? Because we've gotten much, MUCH better at diagnosing illnesses
like these. The fact that more people have likely become mentally ill in
some way since you were young doesn't magically make their conditions
moot. I agree with you that we shouldn't use them as an excuse for not
trying to control our words, actions, and yes, even thoughts, but it
legitimately makes that last part astronomically harder for me. Now,
I've realized that if I just picked up my Bible and prayed more, it
would help a ton. And indeed, with God all things are possible, but I've
realized that almost all those times I gave in to...you know, those vile
things? It wasn't my fault. The only times they were willful probably
were when I completely gave up on hope for stopping it briefly. I have
severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which often times makes me
think things I don't want, and seems to be triggered by just about
anything I enjoy. I do trust God that He will help me out if this if I
truly try...and at this point, it may well be my fault that even the
compulsive caused events happened because it's been going on for so
long, but please, PLEASE don't go telling people that it's entirely
their fault and no one else's that they got some bad thought they didn't
Have any objections? I'll be glad to listen.
As for those times I supposedly made excuses for doing those things...I was convinced that the enemy that I was doing it willfully, deceived if you will. I truly did regret it deep down every time, even if I didn't emotionally "feel it". Now, those recent incidents? Those may have been on purpose, I'm not sure. But I still felt deep regret at least mentally for those.
I'm certainly not saying that it's easy or not a struggle. If a person allows
themselves to gain 100 unnecessary pounds, getting back into shape won't be
easy. It may seem impossible to do a single push up or run a single mile – and
may very well be so . . . at that moment when they decide to get cracking and do
something about it. But the right approach is not to throw up one's hands and
say "it's impossible!" The right approach is to start diet and exercise, one day
at a time. If consistent, it will be possible for most people to get back into
shape – or at least get into better shape.
It's not a bad analogy for those who have gotten into bad spiritual shape. If one has been living with an undisciplined mind and giving way to emotion and not accessing, remembering, believing and applying good Bible teaching (no, prayer and Bible reading are not enough; one needs solid food which only a good Bible teaching ministry can supply), then it will take time – and effort – and consistency to get to a place of really feeling good about where one is spiritually, of being able to combat the guilt and bad thoughts and unpleasant memories effectively. That will always be a fight for all believers as long as we are in this world – but it is a fight which is winnable – if not overnight, definitely in the long run.
It being the case that saying "it's impossible" will only guarantee defeat, you may characterize those alphabet soup conditions any way you like (they are not based upon objective science [whatever that is nowadays], by the way, but on behavioral science which can never be definitively proven) – just as long as you don't use this as an excuse. Because while "condition X" may be an explanation, explanations may do some good, but only digging in with blood, sweat and tears to do what God wants you to do will bring about the result you want. Having therapists explain the reasons won't do that (in my experience). Ultimately, you have to "own it" yourself . . . and get cracking with doing something about it.
How are you doing, and how is school going so far? Hopefully, there are some receptive and eager students in the ranks. I'm reading Peter #22 study today, and it's a great reminder that trials aren't necessarily discipline just par for the course; thank you for sharing it.
First, I'll share the good news. The Lord has been incredibly gracious to help me better understand how believers throughout time never had "earned" their standing with the Lord; even then, it was a relationship marked with faith. I've also been developing better awareness to avoid making decisions or drawing conclusions when I'm not abiding in the peace of the Lord. We've recently started on the Bible Basics, I've made some progress through the Peter Series, and have read about legalism, emotions, and conscience from your subject index page (along with others, but I mention that given the topics I’ll expound on below). I believe I also read the resources you provided about peace and the definition of faith and sin. I’ve also been continuing in my own Bible reading, and praying quite a lot.
That said, Prof. Bob, I keep getting waylaid by everyday situations (if not full on beat up), and enough is enough - Lord willing. I think most people would consider me to be OCD, but I am inclined to think that if I have a better grasp on Biblical truth I could do ok by the grace and sustenance of the Lord. It’s almost as though I have the sword, I just don’t understand how to wield it particularly well on these matters when I find myself in these mental battles.
As a note, these aren’t behaviors that have marked the majority of my adulthood faith to my knowledge, so I’m a bit perplexed as to how I now find myself in this position. That said, I imagine I’m better off not lamenting spilt milk.
What is sin? It can’t just be a matter of our hearts, because some things are wrong whether or not we realize it, but it also may at times for the believer be a matter of the heart.
The past year or so, my eyes were really opened to the potential danger of some things; among other things, I saw how unbiblical ministries, worship lyrics, etc. were potentially more damaging than most seemed to think, and started to see how displeasing some “benign” shows, activities and entertainment must be to the Lord. As I shared in a prior email, I would remove things from life that presented as displeasing; it’d start with obvious (like certain shows) and then escalated to erring on the side of caution (varying trinkets purchased during international travel that may or may not have had pagan origins). I have wanted to honor the Lord, but as I shared earlier that train of thought has now gone off the rails.
I’ll share a few examples in hopes it will better convey my confusion. A friend recently left a few lemons at my house; I didn’t think much about it until she mentioned they were from the property of a pastor involved at a church we’d left on account of our perceiving they were starting to overvalue experience over inerrancy of Scripture. Then, I was almost compulsively wanting to toss the lemons - wanting no association. Another example, we’d taken a relative out to a restaurant, and I was overcome with anxiety when I saw that they’d added a decal to their window about how the food was “good for the soul” or some other goofy equivalent. I spent the rest of the time wrestling with if it was, in fact, better to set my emotions aside and host the relative, or if I ought to have left in a desire to not “affirm” the message on the door. Lastly, I have had an unusual fear of lying lately - couching things with so many disclaimers or correcting myself. I don’t know if I should congratulate people on certain decisions (how could I ever know what the Lord wants for them?) or even share personal stories for concern I’ll make an error.
All of this to say, I am certainly inclined to believe that certain things are obviously dangerous (for example, a pentagram) but should we be nitpicking all the way down to a Turkish rug? And, yes, if presented with a line in the sand to affirm something unbiblical, we should rise to the occasion but how do we have peace that other aspects of ungodliness inherent in society are just an aspect of being in Babylon? Of course, I wouldn’t want to find myself in a midnight dance club, but if the Chinese restaurant one frequents has a Buddha statue are we supposed to just acknowledge that’s the brokenness of the world?
I apologize that these are along the same lines as some prior emails; it isn’t that I’m not receiving the points made and Scripture shared, I think I just don’t clearly understand Biblically what it means to sin partake in sin which is why when my conscience is blaring off I assume I need to act on it. Praise the Lord, He has been helping me pause and not act on all these things. I don’t want to empower beliefs of legalism or self-sufficiency.
At this point, I don’t think it’s that I think doing these things somehow earns my salvation or anything. I just think I’ve somehow acquired an understanding of what it means to pursue holiness / guard my relationship with the Lord that isn’t Biblically sound (or perhaps there are new age or charismatic ideas I have that I’ve not wholly understood?). This said, I can’t stand strong when these “attacks” of compulsion or fear come, because I truly don’t know the Biblical course to take. It isn’t that I’m *not* seeking what is Biblical, it’s that I’m trying to apply Biblical truth, and I seem to be missing the mark.
I realize some say if you have a weak conscience you just leave it, but this now seems to be a matter of the enemy capitalizing on my good intentions. Moreover, I recently had an experience where I had doubts for, to my knowledge, the first time in adulthood which was very frightening. I know fear and cowardice isn’t acceptable as a believer, and I want to somehow do whatever I can to stay on the narrow path.
I want to be free of this, so I can be stronger in my faith (hard to be faith-filled when you’re oscillating in trying to discern if something is “bad” for you), grow in true godliness, and serve others. I realize I may not “feel” closer to the Lord, though I’ll be pleased if there’s a glimmer of sun after this season of what seems to be constant attacks.
Your time and patience are appreciated. Again, I apologize if my questions are redundant. It didn’t used to be a problem…for years…it seems, so unsure why it is now. Regardless, have a blessed day in the Lord!
Good to hear from you as always, my friend.
I'm happy to hear that you've started the Basics series. You might want to "jump ahead" to BB 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical study of Sin, inasmuch as that study covers many aspects of your questions.
First thing to say is that it is clear you are making spiritual progress, and you have a right to feel good about that. The fact that you are inclined not to do anything wrong whatsoever is also a wonderful thing, but as you are experiencing that good intention has to be tempered with the truth in the Spirit or it can be used against you. A good rule of thumb is that if a person is doing anything out of guilt or fear, it's probably not coming from the Spirit. We want to have peace and confidence in the Lord in all we do. Paul does say "eat anything" and only abstain "for [another person's] conscience sake" in talking about partaking of meat sold after being sacrificed in pagan temples (1Cor.10:25). Ideally we would want nothing to do with that, but it was clearly not a sin to eat something God had provided. As mentioned previously, while it is good to pursue sanctification, we cannot "go out of the world", and in this world there is very little which is not tainted in some way (1Cor.5:10).
So while you noticed something at a few restaurants, who is to say that at another one there is not a chef you don't see with a pentagram tattoo? Everything down here is corrupt to one degree or another. That is not a justification for doing everything; but it is a reason to avoid not doing anything. Where to draw that line is a personal decision based upon where one is in spiritual growth – which is why Paul refuses to condemn either the believer who eats or the one who doesn't in Romans chapter fourteen.
We all have our limits. I would probably pay no attention to many things, but I would be unlikely to frequent "Satan's deviltry cafe", no matter how good the food was purported to be – but on the other hand I would also not condemn a fellow believer who just went there for the food. It's not a sin to eat as long as one is not required to believe and profess what the people preparing the food do.
My best advice on this then is not to worry too much about this sort of thing. Make the decision with which you feel comfortable (go or don't, eat or don't), and move on without fixating on it. As you grow, your decision may not change, but your perspective will deepen.
On the lemons, I can understand "pitching them" and I also would not worry about using them. Again, neither decision is a sin or absolutely wrong or right – do what you feel the Spirit is leading you to do in such cases, and then don't fret about the decision you made. This is a spiritual battle we are in. We do the best we have in matters of application based upon the limited information we have. If we tie ourselves up in knots, then we are being manipulated by the evil one and are not going to be at our best spiritually for all the other more important decisions and activities we have to engage in day by day on this battlefield. If we make a decision we later see as a mistake, we confess . . . and let it go. We have an obligation to move forward, not obsess about what is already gone (Phil.3:13).
If something definitely is a sin, then we should of course not do it. If we do sin, the Lord forgives us when we confess (1Jn.1:9); recovery involves moving on. If we are not sufficiently chastened, the Lord is more than able to chasten us with discipline to help us improve – we don't need (and we should not) seek to chasten ourselves.
Avoiding lying is a good thing since lying is a sin (there are rare exceptions; see the link). We are not required to say anything, most of the time – unless we are subpoenaed or something like that. Being "perfect" in what we say is very hard, however (Jas.3:2ff.). If we slip up, we confess and move on.
Remember that Jesus already died for all of our sins. Sinning is not unimportant – but refraining from it is not the entirety of the Christian life. Far from it. In fact, one can never get "really good" at sanctification without the forward progress of spiritual growth. If we find ourselves obsessing about small lapses, therefore, we are only shooting ourselves in the foot in the big picture, because to the extent that we are looking backward and second guessing ourselves, to that extent we are not moving forward spiritually so as to get better at this Christian walk – which is the only way to gain any victory over sin in the long run.
There is a "sweet spot" between being completely unconcerned about one's behavior on the one hand and being so consumed by these issues that paralysis sets in. Somewhere in-between the Spirit is guiding us toward the center of the path forward. We can get better at walking it, but not if we veer off too far in either direction.
Keep up the good work of spiritual growth, my friend!
Thank you for the response and encouragement. I am simmering on some things, and have started on the Sin study.
I anticipate sending some questions, but wanted to first thank you for the email.
Is there a particular way we could be praying for you?
You're very welcome,
You could pray for my university research efforts to be accepted - thanks! [n.b., two articles were accepted last year - thanks for the prayers!]
Do feel free to write back with your questions.
Yes, Ichthys displays fine on my phone. I'm so used to quickly touch typing on my laptop to send you the typos - emailing them to you on my phone would have taken longer. Think I will try it on my phone next time I'm away though. Need to get bionic thumbs like the youngsters have when they text!
Thinking about your correspondent again today who was having difficulty with "intrusive thoughts". One part that he wrote stood out to me.
"Is it our fault when we get thoughts we don't want? Most of the time ... you know what happens, it's because I get intrusive thoughts I don't want ... don't you dare say those are a choice too, if we genuinely don't want those thoughts and yet get them anyway, can we really say they're ours? Also, I feel like I literally cannot help but get thoughts of evil things when I do certain things, and once they start ... no matter how hard I try, I can't stop it from completing. Can you pray I'll overcome this?"
Last week I was looking quite a way back through older email postings on Ichthys and I just happened to come across one of my emails that you posted which was about me having a similar experience. I couldn't believe I came across that exact one - no coincidence there! I don't know if this is still troubling your correspondent but this is part of the email I typed to you.
When the Lord delivered me out of the new age/occult stuff the battle straight after was terrible. It's like the devil knew he had lost me and was putting absolute fear and lies into me. There's one email on Ichthys that I read which described this battle exactly. The total fear and numbness of thinking I had committed the unpardonable sin. I couldn't believe how accurate this email was to my own experience. But when I read your teaching on this I knew you were teaching the truth. I believed it and all of the fear went away. And there's another email where a person is struggling with horrible words coming into their mind when trying to pray or read their Bible. This is exactly what happened to me too straight after coming back to the Lord. It was really upsetting and it just wouldn't go away no matter how much I wanted it to. I felt so guilty but the thing is I knew it wasn't me. There's absolutely no way I would be using those kinds of words or thoughts. When I was praying to our Father it would go away, but as soon as I looked to our Lord Jesus or read about Him it would start straight away but even worse. I read your email response and you said to try and just ignore it. So I did this and although it took some time, it worked. I said, "Lord you know this isn't me, please help me to resist this". Even though it kept happening for a while I ignored it and I also ignored any feelings of guilt. I knew the Lord knew it wasn't me and I carried on as best I could to pray and study my Bible and Ichthys. Eventually those words and thoughts stopped altogether.
I just wanted to say that I understand a little bit of what your correspondent wrote and that I know it isn't easy. I was never very deeply involved in these occult things - I probably only scratched the surface but even that's enough to leave you with a battle on your hands. But the Lord always gives us the victory when we put our trust in Him. I cut up all of my new age/occult books and threw them away along with anything else related to it. I turned away from it completely and turned wholeheartedly to the Lord and to dedicating my life to everything that pleases Him and gives glory to Him.
That's what I felt I needed to share again and I know the Lord has helped me to do this. I'll leave it with you, to decide if or how it will be most helpful to anyone.
The weekend is here! Wishing you a restful one.
That's a very nice connection. I will post this at an appropriate time.
Thanks for report on the phone presentation of the site. It seems to work fine on mine as well, but I occasionally get warnings from Google about font size et al., and we know that different devices and different apps in different places produce different results often – so thank you!
LOL, I'm too far down the road to learn that "thumb thing". I'll stick with the keyboard when I can.
Yes, the weekend came in the nick of time.
Keeping you and yours in my prayers, my friend.
Hi Mr. Luginbill,
How are you? I hope you have been well.
I think I am finally getting better with my "am I saved?" issue, so thank you for all your help. I'm struggling with my thoughts, especially one thought in particular that keeps bugging me. How do I win victory over this? I don't want to have wrong thoughts. What seems to happen sometimes is a thought grabs me, and I get scared, and then it bothers me for weeks or months on end. Sometimes my head physically hurts, and I'm just tired of playing the mind game all the time. I think it's an area of weakness for me. I know I need to just take it captive and get rid of it and stop giving it credit. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
I'm glad to hear it! But I am sorry to hear that you are being plagued
by this other issue. It's one that I hear about more and more from many
Christians. The solution, you'll not be surprised to hear, is spiritual
growth – at least from the strategic perspective. The more ammunition we
have stockpiled in our hearts for the Spirit to use, the easier it is to
combat all intrusive thoughts (among other things).
On the tactical level, we all have to learn to make a practice of setting our thoughts on "the things above" rather than the things down here (Col.3:1-2). Moses was able to persevere through all these trials and tribulations because he "keep on seeing the invisible One", that is, he kept focusing on Jesus Christ (Heb.11:27). If we are thinking positively about all the good things the Lord is doing for us, has done for us, will do for us in eternity, it will be less likely that we will be slipping back into old modes of thought. It is a struggle, however – but we do get better at it if we are consistent in waging this fight. And remember: we have the Holy Spirit in us to help us with this as with all other things . . . and He is almighty God.
Here are some links that deal with this issue which you may find helpful:
Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions According to the Bible?
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle
Focusing on Christ (in BB 6A)
Keeping you in my daily prayers, my friend.
Hey Dr. Luginbill, just a quick question.
I read some of your postings on mental illness in general but what do you think specifically of anxiety disorders? We are told not to be anxious, of course. But is anxiety (by itself) a sin? Do you believe that some anxiety may be out of a person's control because it is due to a mental illness (requiring the person to get help)?
The problem is that if anxiety is always a sin, then there is no such thing as a disorder, but I don't think I believe that. If anxiety disorders are real, and I believe they are, I don't see how just having anxiety by itself could be sinful (or that it always has to be). What are your thoughts on this?
We're commanded not to worry but there is a difference between actually
committing to worrying about something and having one's emotions upset
by some situation. There's no harm in confessing whatever one even
suspects might be sinful (we're supposed to blanket-confess every day in
the Lord's prayer). So it would be hard for me (or anyone else) to
pronounce a person "sinful" because they are feeling anxiety. Complete
peace and confidence, after all, can only come to the mature believer
who is walking closely with Jesus Christ, one who has learned to look to
Him when the pressure is on and "live", e.g., the 23rd Psalm (please see
the link in Hebrews 3 on
"one day at a time"). This "fight" for holding onto
the divine viewpoint is one that never ends, no matter how mature a
believer may be (which is why David was led to contemplate and write,
e.g., the 23rd Psalm).
On "mental illness", I will stipulate that there are some physical imperfections some people have which may indeed be unrelated to their past behavior. It's no problem to pray for any sort of healing we need or to get secular help if God provides legitimate means for things that are definitely wrong. But it does seem to me that things have gotten out of hand lately in the alphabet soup of conditions which are being diagnosed. When I was young, I hardly knew anyone who had "mental" or "emotional" problems worthy of diagnosis and therapeutic intervention – some (or many) may have had "issues", but they weren't wearing their acronyms on their sleeves. With the system of psych we have today, however, probably half of my acquaintances of the past would have been on some drug or in some system of therapy, diagnosed with ABCD something. We are all "a little nuts", after all.
Believers, however, have the Holy Spirit and the opportunity to draw closer to the Lord daily through prayer, Bible reading, Bible study (from a good ministry) . . . AND through applying the truth they believe aggressively in their lives. There's a lot about that in BB 6A as well as in various email postings at Ichthys. Anyone can get anxious under pressure, for example. But believers have the ability to be "strong and courageous" through learning to trust and rely on the Lord, entering into His rest. Even someone with some "severe anxiety disorder" would probably be calm if Jesus were right here holding them by the hand. And in fact He is. But it takes spiritual maturity to appreciate and apply that.
A few other links:
Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions According to the Bible?
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle
Hey Dr. Luginbill,
Just wanted to ask if you could pray for me because my mental health (OCD) has been terrible and has been interfering with my everyday life. It is so devastating and has been dragging on for four and a half years now. I'm seeking help for it, for an evaluation and possibly medication treatment if needs be. My trust is in the Lord but if He has chosen to work through other means to help me out with this, then I won't turn them down. Been praying hard on this one. It's hard to prepare a teaching ministry living with such terrible symptoms. It is so bad that I have a hard time getting anything done. Your prayers would be appreciated. If you could just pray that I would have discernment and clarity of thought to make the right decisions based on where the Spirit is leading me.
I don't know if this condition (it's possible) is a result of past decisions I have made (maybe sin) or something else. But I'm not worried about that anymore since the past is in the past and I want to forget and move on from it. All I know is that the problem is out of control and I think it best at this point to stop fooling myself by wasting time and go get this checked out.
Your brother in Christ,
First, I don't speak for the Lord, but as I often affirm, divine discipline is generally immediate and unmistakably related to the gross sin we have committed. Otherwise, we rejoice in our Lord's merciful conduct to us at all times.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
Psalm 103:8-13 NIV
I have been praying for you about this my friend, and I'm very sorry to
hear that this is still plaguing you. I'm not a psychologist. As you
probably know from reading the site, I'm a bit torn on this issue. On
the one hand, I have my doubts about what secular professionals can do
for believers in any matter of the heart/mind; on the other hand, there
are such things as physiological issues with mental and emotional
repercussions and I have known people who have been helped this way.
It also seems to be the case that while in my youth such things seemed to be rare, today it seems to be the rare individual who is not plagued to some degree or in some way by some such condition, a little or a lot (with many all to eager to share that they have/are "XYZ"). No doubt this has to do at least in part with the times in which we live. I also can't rule out the intensification of the efforts of the evil one the closer we come to the Tribulation.
Have you ever read these links at Ichthys?
Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions According to the Bible?
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle
Faith, Hope and Love: Virtue in Spiritual Warfare
Entering into His rest
I do promise to keep you in prayer on this issue, my friend. I would
also be happy to put a petition for you up on the Ichthys prayer list if
you would like (just say the word).
I appreciate the kind words and your prayers. You may put a request up
on the site if you want. Yes, I 've read through those links before.
I think I'm going to see a primary care doctor. They can prescribe meds for ocd but their knowledge of the most effective SSRIs will be limited compared to that of a psychiatrist. I know that with them (psychiatrists), they prescribe medication and any other treatment is just optional (you can choose just medication and you don't have to go any further per se even if they encourage therapy). I wouldn't even consider seeing a psychologist for a few reasons (not saying some people aren't led to that).
I too am torn over the issue but to me it really depends why a person is going. If it is for spiritual issues, well, I'm gonna scratch my head. But if it is because the symptoms are due to a certain mental illness that really is causing major problems, well, I think fooling ourselves into thinking we don't need help is a bad idea in my opinion (OCD has been described as a misfiring in the brain). I'm still praying about all this. I was wondering if you remembered me telling you about this a few years ago. Thinking about it over the past few years, I almost wonder if this is something I've had since I was a child. I, as well as some of my family members can attest, had many strange habits and behaviors that couldn't be explained. I don't know, but it does make me wonder. I've heard many people go years with these conditions only for them to violently emerge more aggressively years later. That may describe me.
Again, your prayers are appreciated.
Your brother in Christ,
I'm not even a medical doctor, let alone a psychiatrist (or
psychologist). So I can't give any sort of professional opinion on this.
If someone has a medical condition which a doctor can cure with drugs or
by whatever means, there is certainly no reason why as a believer he/she
shouldn't avail him/herself of such help . . . within reason (there are
things, e.g., "heroic efforts", that some believers are not willing to
accept and that also seems reasonable to me; it's a personal
You asked me if this could be discipline, and as I said before I don't think so because of the way divine discipline works. We've all done things in the distant past to which we might attribute anything that "goes wrong" in our lives as discipline if we were to let our guilt get out of hand.
For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth.
Job 13:26 NIV
Job was wrong about the above, lest we forget. He wasn't being
disciplined; he was being tested. So there is also the possibility –
probability? – that this is also a test. So considering how to cope with
it in a godly way is certainly a good idea (and that is what you are
doing). Whatever help we get from secular sources, we still have to be
trusting God first, second and last: they only help, they only can help, because of Him.
The Holy Spirit's power is unlimited. He is God. And He indwells us. I have seen the Lord move mountains, plenty of times. But we do have to trust Him and we do have to "fight the fight" in so doing, resting in Him and waiting on Him.
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 40:31 NKJV
This is only to say that there are times to seek out help and there are
times to wait on Him for help – and they are not necessarily mutually
exclusive. But whatever we decide is right to do, we need to do it in
faith and trust of Him and of His deliverance, because only He can grant
that deliverance, whatever means He gives us to employ to address
whatever problem or challenge or obstacle we face.
Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.
Theses passed couple of weeks, maybe a bit longer, anxiety has been tormenting me. This is related to a discussion we had quite some time ago, I believe, in regards to conquering the mind, and how evil thoughts pop in while reading or trying to study the word. I remember you saying they are rarely, if ever, from an outside source, and I have come to accept that. There was even a time I finally moved on, and while not 'in control' of it, did manage to kind of brush them to the side. I also remember that believe is first and foremost a choice.
Well, now, they've become the center of my attention again, to the point of causing me anxiety, usually when I am trying to read or study. Horrible thoughts that I don't actually believe, like they happen just to spur a reaction. The Lord has blessed me with a creative mind, but I believe it sometimes works against me. There are times when I am reading and trying to study, that I ponder alternative explanations, or plot twists, as though I am reading a story, even though I'm not and tell myself I am not.
I guess my chief concern is, I wonder if I have lost my belief, or if I'm actually a believer? The prospect of such mortally terrifies me, because I have chosen to believe the Word, and want to. But then, wouldn't someone who doesn't believe not be concerned? Wouldn't someone who has actually lsot their faith not care, much less be terrified at the very idea of it?
I suppose what I'm questioning is if I am deceiving myself. I already know there is no such thing as fooling God, even non-believers are not so arrogant. So, I guess I'm worried if I am lying to myself to the point of tricking myself into thinking I believe. I do want to believe, and I cling to the Lord and His word, and I pray every day for Him to see me through whatever I am going through at the moment.
Am I just overthinking this, or letting my emotions drive me? For me in particular, if left unchecked, I have a history of letting my emotions drive me and they will cause me to 'spiral', until I start questioning everything and very existence itself. That's what this sounds like here, but I can't be sure anymore. As said, the idea of deceiving myself and not being a believer brings me mortal terror of the judgment to come, but that in itself shouldn't make sense, because someone who actually doesn't believe wouldn't actually care.
I am just hoping this makes sense.
Normally, I do not like sending multiple emails about multiple subjects, as I do not want to flood your email or be a bother to you, but I did wish to ask about something else. Today, due to what I was going through detailed in my previous email I sent you earlier, I went to Ichthys again to study and help put my mind at ease. Right now, I'm reading through the Study of God portion, and near the end of it.
I got to the part where you are discussing the Inaccessibility of the Father, and why the Lord and His majesty is invisible to us. You pointed out that, if confronted with such, almost all sane men could no longer deny His existence and would even follow Him unwilling, if only out of fear. And this got me thinking about myself, and my own relationship with Him.
Even though you were referring to people in a hypothetical scenario, where God revealed himself visibly to the world, I often feel as though this describes me, and I do not know what to think about that. Even though it is the wrong mindset, I often feel as though I am serving Him more out of fear than anything else, and I don't want that to be the case. I know there is a difference between reverence for His glory, and actually just simply being scared of God, but I cannot tell the difference when I look upon myself.
We are once again coming to the point where, as I've mentioned before, I have a weakness for my emotions driving me. What can I do about this? I keep in mind that God is love, and just, and that I shouldn't fear Him, but then sometimes I do.
I think this may be related to being worried about not being distracted from Him. I am nearing a point where I feel I have to keep Him on the forefront of my thoughts at all times, and to not do anything outside of that, but it's gotten to the point where I don't do anything else. I can't enjoy hobbies, I can't search for work, I can barely leave the house. I now cannot even sleep without the light on anymore.
I cannot explain where I am at right now. I lack the words right now. I feel paralyzed, like I have forgotten the joy that God's word should bring me. I feel as though I am the servant who, when given the money from his Lord, went to bury it in a hole -- I cannot recall exactly which chapter that is in, but I hope you will know which parable I am referring to. Maybe I am misunderstanding the point of that parable.
If I let myself, this email would continue on, so I will shorten it here. I just hope you can help me settle this, whatever it is I am going through. It is as though, the fear of the Lord is there, but I am no longer feeling the love. I know that the problem is me, I just do not know how to address this.
I also had problems with your outlook account last time we chatted so I
don't think you got my last reply. I'll send you something from an
alternative address if this is blocked again.
As to your first email, "brushing aside" unwanted thoughts is the right approach. Key to this is remembering the power of the Holy Spirit. He indwells you and He is God. This is an easy thing to do . . . if we are trusting Him to be able to do it for us and help us with it. On the other hand, if instead of resting in the Lord and waiting on the Lord if we overly fixate on the issue itself, it's a little bit like scratching poison ivy: the only way it's going to get better is by leaving it alone.
Of course you are a believer. A believer is someone who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ. Just because you are struggling with some issue doesn't mean you no longer believe in Jesus Christ – which you do, so you are saved (Jn.3:18). It is true, however, that spiritual growth has its own momentum and so does spiritual regression. If you are aggressively reading into this ministry, believing what you are taught and applying it carefully to your life day by day, then this sort of thing will be much rarer and dissipate more easily. On the other hand, for those who are drifting spiritually, spiritual problems which are systemic cannot be cured topically, only systematically (to continue the analogy). In other words, a spiritual problem can't be addressed by temporary self-help measures which are not founded on the deeper process of spiritual growth.
Learning to ignore one's emotions and concentrate on the truth – which is the truth regardless of how we feel at any given moment – is also something that gets better and easier with growth to maturity and beyond. But again, if there is no spiritual momentum, this problem is intractable through human means alone. Spiritual momentum is also a relative thing: the more we focus on the truth and the more often we do so the better; the less we do so the less results we will see.
As to your second email, there is a difference as you imply between revering God, having godly fear, and being terrified of Him. The latter is appropriate for unbelievers, but not for believers. The Father is inaccessible except through Jesus Christ His Son through whom we believers do have access to Him as our heavenly Father.
For through Him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jews and gentiles] have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Being in Him [Jesus Christ] and having confidence through our faith in Him we possess this access [to the Father] and freedom to speak [to Him].
So let us approach with confident free speech to the throne of grace [of the Father] that we might receive [His] mercy and gain [His] favor for timely help.
The Father loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us (Jn.3:16). We had reverence for our earthly fathers but we knew that they loved us (and for those who had poor earthly fathers, they could see by comparison with the ideal what a perfect heavenly Father would be like). God the Father is our loving Father in every way and we have a right to approach Him with confidence in the love He has for us – in addition to the respect which He is due (Ps.19:9; 90:11; Is.11:2-3).
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
John 14:21 NKJV
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
John 14:23 NKJV
"For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God."
John 16:27 NKJV
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15 NKJV
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Galatians 4:6 NKJV
"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."
Revelation 21:7 NKJV
If you are aware of anything untoward in your life, confess it. We should all be confessing our sins daily in any case (it's part of the Lord's prayer, after all). Once you've done that, accept the truth that the Spirit is telling you in the scriptures and Bible teaching that the Father loves you and accepts you in Jesus Christ, just as Jesus Christ accepts you through your faith in Him. And the more you grow, the closer you will grow to God.
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Matthew 17:5 NIV
Thank you for your reply and your help in keeping myself focused. I do
think that, overall, going 'back to the basics' has been a great help to
me overall. I am even learning and pondering some things that I did not
think about before. I just want to make sure that I didn't leave an
overly-negative impression of my walk with the Lord. Aside from the
occasional day where my emotions can drive me, such as today, reading
the word and studying it with Ichthys has been a tremendous help to me
I want to thank you for taking the time to reply to me, and not just today, but every time you do so. And I again want to thank you for the Ichthys site as a whole, because it really gives me a lot to think about outside of reading the word itself. I had let my studies and reading slip for a time, but I'm hoping to get back on track and carry on.
Whether I am running or crawling, I intend to cross that finish line in pursuit of the Lord.
Thanks for this!
Keep running the race, my friend. We get better at that day by day.
p.s., thanks for the alt-address
Supposedly some people are legitimately so traumatized by something that
happened to them that they literally can barely function if at all. Is
there any truth to this or are they faking it, possibly even chose to
become like that?
I know years ago I was in deep trauma to the point I could never be happy with anything, in fact I could never escape the torment of the thoughts and visions of the event, so I know severe trauma like a lot of people describe suffering under does in fact exist, but to the point they can't do much of anything for themselves? That sounds like quite a stretch, even for someone who's experienced crippling trauma and despair like myself, but maybe I've just never seen or heard of a case that really happened. What do you think Doc?
I wouldn't want to second guess someone who, for example, was bombarded and
starved and deprived of sleep and lived face to face with death for months on
end on, e.g., Guadalcanal, never having experienced that myself.
There are certainly traumatic experiences and they affect different people in different ways. No one is immune – but all believers have the advantage of God's protection and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1 NIV
God can deliver us from whatever bondage we find ourselves in, emotional, mental, sinfulness, addiction, even physical captivity. Our job as believers is to have confidence that this is so and wait patiently for Him in total trust that He will do it for us if we but have faith in Him. And we have the Holy Spirit to help us in this.
(16) I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Encourager to be with you forever – (17) the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, for it neither sees Him, nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He abides with you, and will be in you.
But the Encourager, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My Name, that One will teach you all [the truth] and will remind you of all [the truth] which I spoke to you.
(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
Not long ago, I came to you to speak of certain anxieties and emotions, and with questions. I don't quite know to explain everything that's happened since then, but basically, I have been working it out over time and trying to strengthen my walk with the Lord and rely more on his word.
But I did not too long ago find out that some of it could also be possibly genetic? Anxiety and depression seem to run in my family, or we are somehow predisposed to it. I'm not entirely sure of the accuracy or possibility a genetic predisposition to anxiety. I wanted to see what you thought about this, and also to ask what the Biblical view on medicines are?
I don't want to rely on a pill to just magically fix everything, and I don't think it would. I know you're not a medical professional, but I thought I would ask how to view the use of medication through a spiritual lens?
First, there was no problem with your email . . . except that MY email
server is now throwing all manner of emails (even from my family!) into
junk mail for no apparent reason.
On your question, it is certainly possible that there are genetic or other physical reasons why people have mental and emotional disorders. I don't doubt it. Also, things do happen in life which produce them. "Combat fatigue" / PTSD are real things.
What is the solution for a Christian? I see this along the lines of how I see all medical help and intervention. On the one hand, never ever going to the doctor "on religious grounds" strikes me as a misguided and ignorant mistake. God provides us with means and we use legitimate means. If we want to fell a tree we don't try to gnaw it down with our teeth like a beaver; we would use the axe with which we've been provided. On the other hand, there are things which are "too far". Do we really want some chip implanted in our head which reports our thoughts to Microsoft just in order to cure a minor headache? Plenty of medical procedures are optional and not necessary either to preserve our lives or to maintain a reasonable quality of life. There is such a thing as "heroic medicine" and there is such a thing as unnecessary therapy for all things. To go back to the tree analogy, we might use the axe God provided to cut it down, but using a thousand pounds of TNT would strike me as a bit of overkill.
Where to draw the line here is a matter of application which only the believer in question can answer. And because medicine and technology are always changing, so is the line and the way in which we perceive it individually and collectively. There are some things I personally would never do (like getting plastic surgery to make my nose look better – unless I lost half of it in a car accident, e.g.); there are some things I would not think twice about doing (like going to the Dr. to get a prescription for antibiotics if a cut got infected). And there is a lot in the middle I would have to think hard about and pray about before doing. I wouldn't expect others to second guess my decisions on this before the Lord and I make a point of not second guessing theirs either.
As long as we are acting in faith, trusting the Lord to solve our problems (medical and otherwise), then using means He provides is in my view no problem at all. It's only a problem if we are not actually trusting Him to "do it" (whatever it is) when we use/seek help for anything we find necessary to do.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise; in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4 NIV
When anxiety was great within me your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:19 NIV
You will keep him in perfect (lit. "double") peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3 NKJV
Here are some links on this:
Christians using medical care
Blindness, Disease and Healing
Don't stop taking your meds
Christians and medicine