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Mutual Encouragement in Christ IV

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Question #1:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I am emailing you to finally say "Hello!" and "Thank you from the depths of my heart." I am so grateful to God and to you for the life saving truth I am able to access anytime, anywhere via your Ichthys ministry. I have been reading your Bible studies and your email responses for almost two years now. I found your website, bookmarked it, then started reading the Satanic Rebellion series. I started reading a little bit every few weeks, then every weekend and pretty soon I was reading for hours every day. Finding your ministry has completely changed the trajectory of my life and I now know that the Holy Spirit led me to Ichthys at exactly at the right time. I am not sure if I was even a believer or saved before I started reading your Bible studies, even though I was raised Christian and grew up going to church. There was a long period in my life where I strayed from God. In the few years before I found Ichthys the Holy Spirit had been gently guiding me back. On the day I first started reading your site The Spirit ignited the fuse which started to burn inside me for the overwhelming magnificence of God's Truth. I had been starving for it, but didn't know how desperately until I got a taste through your teaching. It was and still is just like falling in love, but with God. The Spirit has used the truth I am feeding on at Ichthys to rapidly grow my faith in Jesus Christ - my relationship with Him is so real and alive I can't even begin to put it into words. It actually scares me sometimes. Before I found your site I had horrible doubts that God even existed and I never knew I could have such a close relationship with Him. Thank you!

I have tried to email you several times in the past few years, but I have been overwhelmed with everything I have wanted to say. Recently, though, testing from God and the urging of The Spirit is convincing me that I need to get over my timidity and reach out to you. Tonight, I decided to just send you a quick email so you would respond. That way, I will have to jump in and respond back, without over-thinking and getting cold feet again.

Again, Dr. Luginbill, thank you for all of the hard work and dedication you put into Ichthys! I have so many questions about what I am reading in the Bible, questions on how to apply God's Word to my life and my walk with Christ. I don't want to waste your time with questions you have already answered on the site - so just point me to the right place if I ask something you have already covered.

My first question is "How are you?" I pray for you, your ministry and your loved ones every day. I am working to be better about praying for those on the Ichthys prayer list every day too. If there is anything specific you would like for me to ask God on your behalf, let me know!


Response #1: 

Great to make your acquaintance – and thanks so much for this most encouraging email! What I like most about what you have to say here is what I and so many others have experienced also: the Word of God is alive and powerful. So learning the truth and following the truth through in-depth study of the Bible always changes a Christian's life for good in every way. I'm very pleased to hear and to see that you are on the road to a good reward!

As for myself, I'm doing rather well. I won't say that things are perfect – they never are this side of heaven (not at least for any Christian who is half-way serious about walking closely with Jesus Christ); but I will say that in the past few months the Lord has delivered me out from under a huge load of impending disaster. I'm bumping along now in pretty good health and with things on the secular side of my life doing fairly well too. I guess since you ask I would like special prayer for my friend Curt who does the Bible Academy ministry and also for my friend from India, Gaurav. They are both being challenged, the former no doubt because he is being "stand up" for the Lord in accomplishing that wonderful ministry, the latter no doubt at least in part because of the difficulties of being a Christian in a pagan nation with an entirely pagan family.

Keep running a good race, my friend! And do please feel free to email me questions any time.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for emailing me back so fast. I am sorry it took me so long to reply. I didn’t plan on writing so much, and it was hard to send the email until I got everything out in the right way. I should have shot you a quick email back, though.

I read about your deliverance on the Ichthys prayer list and I am so happy to hear that you have dodged a bullet! God is amazing.

I will definitely continue to keep Curtis Omo and Guarav in my prayers. Since I have gotten closer to the Lord, it has been more difficult being around the lukewarm Christians in my life, so I can’t imagine the difficulties Guarav is facing with his family and his entire culture being pagan. And I am sure life in India is not as easy as it is in the U.S.A.

I have been consistently praying for Curtis Omo too and I listen/watch his lessons on Bible Academy frequently. I love the new website and he has been busy uploading a lot more videos. I take my cat outside right after work and watch them on my smart phone while I supervise her in the yard. Sometimes I convert them to MP3’s and listen to them in the car when I travel or when working out. Right now I am on lesson 5 of the Daniel series for adults. I got up to lesson 12 in the children’s Daniel series before I realized he had uploaded the adult series, so I am doubling back.

I should give you an idea on where I am with studying Gods word: I still read your studies and email responses on Ichthys nearly every night. Being able to listen to Curtis Omo’s studies and read yours is a nice balance. I stare at a computer all day at work, so I usually avoid turning the computer back on until later in the evening. I try to work in reading the Bible every day as well and I have been doing a lot better recently. When I first found your website I went out and bought the Kenneth Barker 1984 NIV, so that is the main Bible I use. I also use biblehub.com, biblegateway.com and blueletterbible.com to cross reference passages and look up the original Greek and Hebrew words. For me, I feel like I benefit more from reading only a few chapters each day and giving myself time to think about what I just read. I also "take notes" when reading on Ichthys.com by screen capturing certain passages in your Bible studies and email responses. I have hundreds of them saved. I need to go through and organize them, so I can go to a folder and read what you have to say on a certain topic, like "the difference between faith and grace." Your site and all of your Bible studies are very well organized but there are certain things you say that jump out at me and seem more important to my walk right now, so save them.

I am working my way through the Old Testament from the beginning – I just finished Judges and I am about to start 1 Samuel. I skip around the New Testament, but I need/want to read the four gospels front to back soon. The Holy Spirit uses Psalms and Proverbs a lot to guide, encourage and comfort me, so I skip around there too. I have also read the Book of Job, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Acts and Revelation all of the way through.

So far, on Ichthys.com I have read the Satanic Rebellion Series, the Coming Tribulation Series, most of Christology, Soteriology (I am currently re-reading this one again), Theology, Angelology, Pneumatology and Anthropology. I have read some of the Peter Series as well. I got hooked on your Bible studies by first reading the Satanic Rebellion Series, then the Coming Tribulation Series.

Before finding your site the Holy Spirit had been guiding me back to God from a period in my youth. Recently, I found some journals I kept in my teens and through the words I wrote back then it was apparent that I was in a deep spiritual struggle. I even read some passages where I had written about supernatural experiences I had at the time and from my perspective now its comforting and humbling to see that the see the Holy Spirit was battling for me even then, I just wasn’t listening. He also put me through an awful experience that put the fear of hell into me, but also demonstrated Christ’s unfathomable love in a very visceral, concrete way. That experience alone might have been the thread that kept me hanging on through all of my wandering until I was ready to find Ichthys.

Finding Ichthys and getting swept up by the Holy Spirit (Really, after a few months of Bible study, He burst into my life in and started asking me to make major changes!) has been such an amazing experience (it never stops being amazing) that I wonder if I ever was truly saved. Christians talk about being born again all of the time and I feel like I’ve been reborn, but I know its not just about emotion, I know the Bible teaches we are born again when we are saved. The fact that I don’t know if I was truly saved when I was really young or if it happened in the last 2 years frustrates me – God only knows.

I know for sure, though, the Holy Spirit has been active in helping me throughout my life. Is it possible to get that much attention and help from the Holy Spirit if you are not saved? Or did was He in/with me this whole time patiently waiting through all of my foolishness? His ministry is truly amazing. He kept scratching the scales from my eyes year after year. He put Christians in my life that were a good witness to me to help me trust in God more and more. Then, when I was ready, He led me right to the truth I needed. The truth I read in your Bible studies and more nurturing from the Holy Spirit helped me trust in God again. I know I said it a few times in my last email, but thank you, Dr. Luginbill!

The Holy Spirit has also guided me to learn Biblical Hebrew in this past year, so I started taking classes last fall. After reading so much on your site about how knowing the original languages makes a huge difference in understanding God’s Word, I decided it was something I really wanted to take on. I prayed for God’s approval of this desire and the Holy Spirit guided me that it would be wise to start learning. I chose Biblical Hebrew over Biblical Greek, because I have always had an interest in learning modern Hebrew (I’m not sure why, maybe it was something the Holy Spirit put in my heart a long time ago). I completed a 9 month course at a local Messianic Synagogue. They have an awesome teaching ministry that welcomes Jews and Gentiles to learn and worship together.

I think I got a good overview of the basic grammar, but I really need to spend a lot more time practicing translating and reading my Hebrew-English Tanakh, and learning vocabulary. I also need to memorize all of the verb conjugations for the different constructions and tenses. The book we work from has a lot of exercises and opportunities to practice translation using the vocabulary I have learned, but most of them aren’t actual passages from the Old Testament.

I know learning Biblical Hebrew is going to be a life long process (however much more time we have left), so I am trying to devote energy to it every day. I’m not doing as well on this as the Bible study and Bible reading, but as we correspond if you want to point anything out to me in the Tanakh, I think I know enough Hebrew grammar vocabulary to be able to look up passages and work my way through some understanding.

Thank you, Dr. Luginbill, for reading through this long email. I’m getting some questions ready for you, but I want to be sure I am asking you something you haven’t already answered on your site – I know you are extremely busy! Also, it’s not just the expertise on God’s Word in your Bible Studies and your knowledge of the original languages that help me, but also your willingness to guide and encourage all of the other Christians who email you. I get so much comfort and support from reading about the struggles you and other Christians are having when you post their questions and your email responses. For example, reading about your experience in the Marine Corps when the tank ran over your foot really encouraged me during my last cycle of discipline from the Lord. And, in the last installment (lesson 5) of Curtis Omo’s Daniel series, Curt talked about his experiences having to trust in God during hard financial times. When you, Curtis Omo and the other Christians who follow your site share the ways God and the Holy Spirit guide your lives it validates my spiritual experiences and helps me to trust in the ways the Holy Spirit is ministering to me. Of course, God’s Word does this too, but knowing other Christians are going through some of the same things I go through make me feel less alone in this world - just like what Peter urges in 1 Peter 5:9!

Response #2: 

Your testimony is a wonderful encouragement! With your permission, I'd like to post it some day (anonymously of course). The power of the truth ministered by the Spirit truly is amazing, and it is refreshing to hear from a good Christian like yourself who recognizes the great spiritual advantage we believers of the Church Age are enjoying.

Please continue to be encouraged. I appreciate your good perspective on your past life, and also how you have put it into the proper place of "history" – there is no profit in any guilt feelings or undue rehashing of the past. I don't know many believers who didn't "go over fool hill" in their youth – I certainly did (way over). In any fight, the issue is the victory or defeat in the end. You have victory in Christ, and that is what counts. I would imagine that when we hear all the details of every believer's life in eternity (as we surely shall), we will be interested to learn how many great believers came close to the edge but pulled back . . . or were pulled back by the Lord (because He knew that in their heart of hearts they really didn't want to go over). God is good, and our Lord Jesus is worthy of all the love, respect and hard work in spiritual growth, progress and production we can muster in what time we have left after we get ourselves headed up the high road to Zion. Indeed, that is where the crowns of eternal reward lie, and it is a great pleasure to see you heading in the direction of earning a wonderful reward that glorifies Christ forever.

Thank you so much for your prayers (they mean a lot as the small note I posted demonstrates); I also much appreciate your prayers for our friends. If you could also add our friend Yuhanna to our list, I'd really be happy for that *[this coming week in particular is crucial]. There are so many needs to pray for, but this is another one which is front and center in my heart at present. He is facing a very difficult test. Again, it is a case of "history long past", but in this instance it's not him being unwilling to let go of it but it of him.

I hope to hear from you often. Let me know how the Hebrew goes.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Thank you Doctor, I'm really, REALLY trying.

I think, as this weeks emails sort of address, that all this uptick in mental disorders has much to do with all the modern advancements in comfort technologies and the extra pollution (radiation, chemical, etc.) that comes along with it. Though science is weak, it has been used to see how these things destroy, mutate or even replace genetic material in all creatures, plus, it seems a fitting test for a world of (relatively) lazy people, especially compared to their ancestors (candles, no indoor plumbing, real farming and hunting to live are all not really part of the human experience anymore..), and I think The Lord planned it so to have fair tests for this Laodicean generation.

I'm trying to find time for Greek, but it's hard when once again I have no steady income. I have the alphabet and basic pronunciation down, I'm hoping to get a book or two like I do for Hebrew, but it seems they're collection dust for now. I am staying up with pastor Omo; it keeps me sharp I'm sure.

I met a believer coffee server today, she told me of her church she attends, then asked where I go so I took a minute to tell why I can't go to service anymore. I gave her your website, then prayed she'd hear. This is not something old me could have done; I was so fast speaking and judgmental that I could tell people didn't hear me, but lately there is a marked difference. I'm softening up my speech in spite of my tendencies to be overly dry, pedantic and overly informative and it's working. I can feel The Spirit sorta saying "that's enough" and, usually at that point I can stop talking and/or worrying whether they hear or not, which is a big relief from my overboard and constant anxiety, thank God.

Our friend Gaurav is more somber these days. I wish I could just go see him..

Once again, thank you for all you do. You told me cold truth when I needed it and, though I may be borderline nuts, it worked. Please don't stop.

Response #3: 

Thanks so much for this email. You have really encouraged me. It's not easy being a Christian in the devil's world, but believers such as yourself who persevere regardless of everything are a wonderful witness to the power of the truth of Him who is the very Word of God. Please continue to persevere, my friend. I'm remembering you and your family in my prayers daily (Gaurav's too). We don't want to hear it, but we do have to remember it: "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22 NIV. But praise be to God that He gives us the wisdom to appreciate what is going on and why, so that we may take courage and exult in the Lord who bought us, and in all the wonderful things soon to come!

Here are some links which you might find encouraging: 

Mutual Encouragement in Christ III

Mutual Encouragement in Christ II

In Need of Guidance and Encouragement.

All about Ichthys: Mutual encouragement in the Lord

Mutual Encouragement in Christ.

Christian Trials and Testing

On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.

Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.

Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.

In need of encouragement.

Spiritual Resiliency.

Waiting on God.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, He who is our life and our all.

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hi Bob,

Thank you! And the same to you and yours!

I want to also thank you for your prayers for me and for my family. My dad is still with us! Turned 90 in September. His health is holding but he’s still in hospice. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year but He has brought us through and I look back on it all and smile because I know He was there all the time. That’s not to say that it was easy or that I wasn’t pulled through without kicking and screaming! ha! I also thank all of those brothers and sisters that prayed for us as well.

In Him,

Response #4: 

You are most welcome, and thanks to you as well. It's so true, isn't it? Although we have tribulation at the time which tests our faith, looking back with spiritual wisdom we can always see how God had it all in hand all the time. It's a good lesson to remember. I will be keeping these concerns in my prayers.

Again, merry Christmas!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I do hope things are well with you and if you are experiencing trials at the present I trust The Lord will see you through.

I just finished your series on the Satanic Rebellion and The Coming Tribulation this morning and wanted to thank you for providing such excellent teaching. In nearly twenty years I have never experienced such a thorough investigation of history past, present and future according to scripture. I found early on that if I had any questions that I just needed to read a little further and you would provide the answer. Very well done sir! I have been a student of the bible since becoming a Christian nearly two decades ago but suffered from many false teachings resulting in spiritual confusion. I must say that I have never seen things as clearly as I do now. God has used your teaching to help me finally put together the scripture in a way that makes logical sense. This has carried over to every aspect of my life, it all makes sense based upon God's Word.

I live in the middle of "evangelicaldom" surrounded by mega churches that preach the Lindsey/Lahaye, absolute eternal security, prosperity, kingdom now baloney. Needless to say I have found very few who tolerate orthodox teaching such as yours. But, as they are, so once was I. In His mercy God woke me up, I pray He wakes them as well.

I thank the Lord for His grace, love, and mercy which He has expressed to us through His Son The Lord Jesus Christ. I thank God as well for your ministry. Thank you for your faithful service to our Lord Jesus Christ, a great reward awaits you in eternity! I look forward to seeing you on the "east side" because I'm sure you'll be residing there. I may only be visiting, but with the time I have left I intend to work to secure my eternal residence there as well!

I will begin my studies in Peter's epistles next. Until next time, God bless.

Praying for you daily,

Response #5: 

Thanks so much for this very uplifting email, my friend! I'm most encouraged by the evident spiritual growth on your part – and I have no doubt but that this is yielding and will continue to yield a bountiful crop for the Lord which will be well rewarded in eternity. As you note, we lift up our eyes and the fields are ripe and ready to harvest, but those willing to do the true work are few. I rejoice in your embracing of all of God's truth and I know that this will work out for your good production, well-pleasing to the Lord, and a cause of joy for us all on that great day of days.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

It went well. I prayed and felt peace during the entire meeting. I felt at peace during the entire meeting. My old nature would have found a way to obfuscate to my advantage. I relied on the Spirit to lead me. I was truthful, even though I knew there was no coming back.

I have seen God's handwriting in this trial even though I did not get 100% assurance that it will end well. There is no longer anxiety in me and I see hope. I see hope because God has extended the duration of the time when a decision has to happen, whether it is to solidify my faith further or whether it is to really understand His character on a deeper level.

In my previous emails, I felt and thought and was ashamed to say that God was not bigger than this test. We are dealing with powers beyond anyone's control here.

You, through, the power of the Spirit have helped me grown spiritually through this test as well as my wife. We pray and lean on faith to help us. It hasn't deteriorated our marriage but made it stronger by the glory of God.

I don't know what the ultimate outcome will be but unlike my initial emails, I can say I believe I will be delivered not false hope but I really believe God will deliver me.

One question I have for you is how do you know that you have grown through a serious test? I believe this test and the constant pressure is a thorn in my side which God will reveal His glory on a more intimate and personal level.

Thanks for all you do and may God continue to grant you the strength and perseverance to help others grow in Christ.

In Christ our Lord, my friend

[note: this week is crucial – please pray for our friend's deliverance]

Response #6: 

Hello my friend,

I'm very happy to hear that things went well. It does seem that we shall have to wait a little longer on the Lord's complete deliverance. That is often the way it goes. We pass one test and another soon takes it's place. Waiting is the hardest thing, in my estimation. But you are handling it very well, and I draw encouragement from that! I hope you are able to step back and see yourself, that you have grown considerably through this ordeal over the years. It would be nice if at some point we "arrived" and didn't need any further testing, trying and refining. But there is always room for improvement, it seems, and the Lord is going to take us as far as we are willing to go. Be pleased to go with Him down this road all the way to the end. I admire your faith and your confidence in Him and in His faithfulness! You inspire me to do likewise.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Hello Professor,

It's true, feelings are not to be relied on. But despite there being many negative emotions over the course of this season, it seems that at least to a degree lack of peace is also caused by the spiritual state. Yes, the trials have definitely been more subtle. This is perhaps one of the key differences to what I have experienced so far.

It is the reorientation of thoughts away from worldly troubles that has been difficult and I have found injustice and the lack of influence for the right things and the truth to prevail particularly hard to take. But even here it is faith that must conquer.

Your advice on yesterday as the cross, today as the time of service and tomorrow as eternity which will make all current issues irrelevant is most helpful. I remember you mentioning this perspective before, but I haven't applied it in current circumstances and I have to say it is certainly very helpful and definitely a great aid in stepping back from the weeds. I will keep reminding myself of it.

Thank you for this useful advice, I'm not giving up and I certainly feel that the time is ripe to put certain spiritual problems behind me. This battle has been long and when I ask myself the question how much closer to finding peace in our Lord I am now than I was a few months ago, I don't think I got much closer and this is a call for more urgency to overcome in faith these present troubles.

In our Lord,

Response #7: 

I'm keeping you in my prayers.

Once things are straightened out this year, perhaps it will be easier to be at peace. It's always harder to stay balanced when the pressure is on – just ask Job. Of course our goal is to have the perspective of "to live is Christ, to die is gain" every day regardless of circumstances. I can personally easily say with Paul "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Phil.3:12 NIV). That is all any of us can do.

Press on, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Hi Robert,

I did not want the weekend to go by without my wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter! I also wanted to share with you that I am starting to get some energy back thanks to your prayers.

I want to thank you for your ministry and for all of the kindness and support you have shown and all the work you do. I pray for you every day and thank God for you at the same time and ask him to bless you as well as your ministry. It has been Our Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through you Robert and your bible study, not the Catholic Church I was raised in, or family or friends who have helped me and have given me the spiritual wisdom, hope and strength I have been so blessed with this last year since this illness began and you have no idea how much your kindness has meant to myself as well as my husband and we are very grateful. Wishing You and Yours a very blessed and spirit filled Easter.

Yours in our very Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Response #8: 

Thanks so much for your very encouraging email. Your good attitude in all that you are suffering is very much an encouragement to me and I am sure also to others. Surely this is one reason for all the trouble, both as a present and as a future ministry:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2nd Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV

It is so true that the truth of the Word of God is the only thing that ever brings true confidence and genuine hope – not some vague longing for something that might happen, but a sure and certain knowledge of the end of all our worldly suffering in resurrection, and a blessed eternity with our Lord forever with all these present difficulties long forgotten.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:14 NKJV

I'm very proud of your good witness, and as I say I draw great encouragement from it.

I'm keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

Have a blessed Easter weekend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hi Bob,

Would you be so kind as to pray for Our Merciful Lord and Savior to lead me to a compassionate and knowledgeable doctor who will get me the help I need this week Bob? I am at peace, and no matter what happens now I can honestly say that this whole experience has awakened my spirit and drawn me to the close and personal relationship I now have with Jesus. You have helped me immensely with this and I will be forever grateful Bob. I hope all is well with you and as always, you are in my prayers each day.

Yours in Christ,

Response #9: 

I will definitely be praying for you! Keep me informed of the progress, please.

God is good! I know He will lead you through this, and I'm very happy to hear that in spite of the grueling nature of this experience your faith is stronger rather than weaker. That is how it always is with real believers – and that is why such experiences are sometimes given us (in multifarious forms), both to help us to grow and also to demonstrate to others the power of God toward those who genuinely trust in Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Hi Robert.....How are you?

I was just reading about Armageddon and the last days and the 7 bowl judgement mainly Revelation 16: 1-2 where God tells the angel to pour out judgment upon the earth and the Angel went out and poured his bowl upon the earth and dreadful and terrible sores arose upon people who had the mark of the beast and upon those worshiping his image. I have to say this frightens me because this is seems similar is happening to tens of thousands of people with my condition.

If this is Gods wrath, does this mean I have the mark of the beast and can I be saved? I have always believed in and loved Jesus even though I never had a close or personal relationship with him until the past year. Do you think this could be part of the tribulation?

Yours in Christ,

Response #10: 

I'm am attempting to persevere.

I'm sorry to hear that you are still suffering so much. I have been keeping you in prayer.

Regardless of the state of your medical efforts to combat it, I can assure you that our condition has nothing whatsoever to do with your salvation! Please stay strong in faith! Remember Job. His so-called friends tried to convince him that he was being physically plagued (and had suffered all of his other catastrophes) because of some deep, dark sin. In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth: the Lord only allowed the devil to attack him as a demonstration of the power of his faith under pressure in a great believer like Job, and also for our benefit to let us know that just because we are suffering does not mean we have done anything wrong at all.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV

The mark of the beast will be a tattoo which is in the form either of the name of the beast or his number. It will be taken in free will by those who want to demonstrate their loyalty to anti-Christ. It will not be something imposed on anyone against their will or through disease.

Here are some links on all this:

CT series: "The Mark of the Beast"

Numbers, Letters, and the Mark of the Beast.

The origin of the mark.

The Mark and 666.

Do not take the mark of the beast (in CT 7)

The Tribulation has not yet begun, and if my calculations based upon what the Bible has to say about the timing of it are correct, it is still some ways off. That doesn't mean that we take our faith in Jesus Christ seriously will not be subjected to personal tribulation in the meantime – indeed we shall, as the devil always opposes good spiritual progress. So please keep fighting this fight of faith, my friend. I know it is difficult, what you are going through, but I also know that our God is a God of deliverances.

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5 NIV

Keeping you in my prayers day by day.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Hi Robert....I apologize for not even inquiring as to how you are doing. I sometimes get so caught up with what is going on with my situation, I very selfishly forgot to ask why you said you are "attempting" to persevere. Is everything going OK? I would never wish for you to think I am always inconsiderate.

Ty for your comforting words Robert! You are such a special human being and are a true blessing to me as well as to all who take part in your ministry and I thank God that he has allowed me to know you even if it is only through the technology of the computer.

I have found that every person at the conference and forum have a deep love for Jesus so I think you are correct in saying this is not Divine Judgment! I am spending most of my time reading the Bible as well as your website which I thank God for each day. I hope you are doing well and you are always in our prayers! Have a lovely weekend.

Yours in Jesus our Dear Lord and Savior,

Response #11: 

You're most welcome – and don't worry about it at all! I think you are giving a very good witness in the face of such troubles. Good for you! Keep up the good fight for Jesus Christ. We all have some trials and tribulations in this world, after all, and it's a mistake to think that everything down here is supposed to be just ducky . . . if only (we did or could do or had done XYZ):

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1st Peter 4:12-13 NIV

But we can have peace and happiness in the Lord, come what may.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 NIV

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Hi Robert!

I am trying so hard to keep the faith and I do understand that everyone has their own trials and I appreciate this and have compassion and empathy for others, but I feel like a dark cloud is hanging over me and no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to move forward. I feel so helpless sometimes and at these times I pray, and trust in God and know that everything is in His timing and not ours. I feel like there is something evil all around me and I don't know how to get it to go away other than to pray for God to remove it but I have been doing this for a long time and I still feel it all around me. Would you guide me in how to pray about this and I would be grateful for any suggestions? Ty my friend.

Yours in Christ,

Response #12: 

I'm sorry to hear that this search for treatment is proving more complicated than we had hoped. I'm certain that there aren't any angles I could think of that you have not been over many times. I do know that the Lord is faithful, however, and that setbacks – or seeming setbacks – on the road to deliverance are typical. This "dark cloud" is the thing that needs to be dispelled, and it can only be melted away by a trust in the Lord that is strong enough to see through the veil into the throne room of heaven where your Advocate and mine is indeed receiving all of your prayers.

These kind of setbacks can be heart-breaking – for those who don't have much heart; but for those who are determined to trust in the Lord no matter what, they can be "heart-making". I have faith that the Lord is working this out for you, and that the entire experience, unpleasant as it is, will be one you will be able to look back on in the future (and I dearly hope in the near future) and affirm that the God is good, and that He never let you down. I have seen this over and over again, and experienced it myself also many times. So please do not lose heart; please continue to trust God; wrestle with Him like Jacob did until you receive the blessing we both know is coming.

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Psalm 37:23-25 NIV

As to prayer, by all means keep praying. There is power in persistent prayer (please see the link).

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. "There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ' Give me legal protection from my opponent.' For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:1-8 NASB

There is no problem with how or what you are praying. But prayer on its own is not the solution. The solution to all things is continued spiritual growth through daily, consistent taking in of the Word of God (you are very welcome to all the materials at Ichthys), daily Bible reading, and, very importantly, getting better day by day at really believing what we have learned and applying it to our lives. The Lord delivered Daniel from a den full of hungry lions. That is impossible – except with God. But while the children of Israel in the desert whined and complained every time anything went wrong even a little bit – or looked like it was going to – Daniel's faith didn't miss a beat. He knew that God could deliver him, and was confident that He would:

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:23 NIV

This is not easy stuff, beginners stuff. But when we face impossible tests like this, we have to remember that the Lord is working everything out for our good, and that our deliverance is truly close at hand – from the divine viewpoint. Our job is to show faith and trust until it comes. That is what glorifies Jesus Christ, and that is what builds proven Christian character which in turn earns eternal rewards and is able to help others down the line.

Be pleased to hand in there. I hope and pray that this will turn out to be a very minor setback in the course of your deliverance. God wrote that deliverance of yours into His plan in eternity past; we are merely waiting to hear the good news. I hope that wait is short, but, short or long, it is a reality – albeit one that can only be seen before the fact with the eyes of faith.

I promise to keep you in my prayers until the victory is achieved.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

p.s., I have also updated the prayer request for you at the site.

Question #13:  

Hi Robert,

Ty for taking the time to give me encouragement and I never thought about Jacob wrestling with God emotionally but rather physically. It makes so much sense now bc I am having my own little wrestle with God right now and yes God did Bless Jacob. I am not giving up and the good news today is that these things are healing.

God is amazing and awesome! Ty for everything Robert, I feel better today! May God send you many Blessings today my friend!

Yours in Jesus Our Dear Lord and Savior,

Response #13: 

Wonderful news!!!

I have no doubt that the Lord is behind all of this. Good for you that you kept your faith through this trial. It's very easy to get down on oneself and get angry with God whenever these sorts of tests arrive, but if we trust Him and keeping walking close to Him through the truth of the Word of God, passing these tests are the spiritual making of us.

Keep fighting the good fight! And do please keep me in the loop.

Keeping you in my prayers until the fight is won.

In Jesus Christ our faithful Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

[please continue to keep our friend in prayer until healing is complete]

Question #14:  

Just wanted to say thanks for making your work available. I'm finding it quite interesting. My own study has led me into these same topics that you have developed with greater detail and research. Outstanding.

Response #14: 

Very good to make your acquaintance. Happy to hear that this series (a prelude to the Coming Tribulation series) is of interest to you.

Do feel free to drop by Ichthys any time – and write whenever you wish.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #15:  

Dear Robert,

I hope and pray all is well with you and yours. I just went back to read your last encouraging email and I had to laugh, not in a funny way but in a sad way because I find myself in the same position to those I use to minister to by not following good instructions. I haven't reached out to you because of my guilt and shame. I have not been doing what I should do and know to do. I wish I could explain this crazy state of mind I'm in. I just haven't been able to put one foot in front of the other for the life of me and no doubt it has affected me in a great way. I know for a fact if it wasn't for the mercy of God I would be consumed.

It's so crazy, but so sad that I went from praying often to barely praying. I went from studying and researching God's word to not even reading the word. I almost feel numb. I wish I could explain it, but even when I try to do it, my mind wanders elsewhere. I still pray, but it's not like it use to be, not even close and whenever I do get a breakthrough and try to get on track, I quickly end up taking 2 steps backward.

I know it's the enemy's voice trying to get me to lose faith in him and to question all that I know. Sometimes I do feel that God is not with me nor does he hear me. I gave all I had to the ministry even while working a job. I spent a lot of time traveling, studying and preparing and less time with the family. I sacrificed the best I could with what I had to end up in this position I'm in. So even when I muster up a little strength to get back on track, even with the thought to at least get things going in my home, I begin to question myself and everything I know or thought I know.

I haven't lost my faith in God, and that's why he's keeping me, but I'm not in the best spiritual shape either and how can I be if I'm not eating the word I(the bread of life) and praying to my Father. There's a strong hold on me brother Bob, and I'm trying to break free but it's so hard because I've allowed myself to be in this state for way to long and it has become almost the norm.

Right now I'm still laid off, but I'm in the middle of getting approved by the state to run my own business. This is my second time around with this business because right before this, I tried to do it with a partner (unsaved person) and it didn't work out right before we opened and thank God it didn't. So I took a loss in that, but I believe God made a way for me to get things started over again.

But for months I've had the time to really seek God and read and study his word, but I haven't done that. I've wasted so much time involved with the world, taking silly chances by mishandling money to try to get ahead, sitting around with an idled mind, getting caught up with self pleasures. Everything I use to stand up against and encourage others not to do, I find myself doing them.

I feel so distant from God, and you know what, sin will do just that. The devil has being working on me hard, but I love God too much to turn around and burn for eternity. I know we're living in the last days and scripture lets us know many shall depart from the faith. I'm a fighter, and that's why I'm speaking out to my brother in the faith because we're our brother's keeper.

What I've spoken above pretty much sums things up, but I've been struggling for way too long and I know I'm in a dangerous position if I don't get the strength to do what I need to do and know what I need to do. So please pray for me specifically on all that I touched on above, for Gods strength and that I will be able to feel his presence/touch one more time. I really need to feel it again because It's been a long time. I'm so ashamed of the way I've handled this, but here I'm standing in a need of prayer. Please pray that God refreshes me in the spirit and let me feel him again.

I thank God for you brother Bob. You are the first person I think of whenever I'm in trouble and I believe God allowed me to find you for a reason. I value your wisdom and knowledge according to the word of God and your friendship to me means more to me then you will probably ever know.

I don't personally know you, but I feel a genuine connection through your ministry. I'm not the most educated person but I do my best with the knowledge I have and walk in it. I'm not ashamed of the Gospel in anyway and I'm willing to go, say and do what's needed of me to do for my Lord. But I know doubt have a need for a teacher who's seasoned and knowable of the word to show me more and teach me more, a person who can hold me accountable sort of speak. I don't lift you up no higher than you are my friend, so please don't feel like I'm bypassing Jesus or anything. I hope I didn't come off like that. But young Timothy had Paul and list goes on. I can't say I'm that young anymore, but I'm sure you're a little older I believe.

If this sounds silly, again please forgive me for what I'm asking of you. I know God has given you much to do with the online ministry.

Thank you so much for your time and prayers.

Response #15: 

While it's always good to hear from you, my friend, I'm sorry to hear that you are having spiritual troubles. I would give you some advice, but it is very obvious from your emails that you know exactly what is wrong and exactly what to do. In other words, it's not a matter of knowledge but a matter of will. I will say that I don't any believer who hasn't bumped into a rough spot from time to time along the road to Zion. Very often these do come once the pressure is off from some test or difficulty – the prosperity test (however prosperity is defined) is for many of us the most difficult of all. David made some minor mistakes while under the pressures of hiding from Saul and then establishing the kingdom. But he saved his biggest set of mistakes for the time when the pressure was off, the kingdom was secure, and everything was in such good shape that he felt he didn't need to personally go off on the campaign against Ammon. That resulted as we well know in "operation Bathsheba" and his murder of Uriah to cover up his adultery. So if it could happen to David, while on the one hand we don't want to be too easy on ourselves for any let down or failure, on the other hand we do need to recognize that we are flesh and blood and can make mistakes. If we don't look at all this realistically, we are likely to fall into a torpor as you seem to have done, looking back instead of looking forward.

So do what you know you need to do. Confess. Get up. Get moving again. You know that God forgives us whatever we've done whenever we confess from the heart. He forgave David. Jesus Christ is our Advocate in all such matters. He loves us more than words, and wants us to do what you know needs to be done in order to claim a maximum reward in eternity – which glorifies Him here and now as well. The specifics I leave to you. In fact, as you can see I'm leaving it all to you. I'm plenty old, but I don't believe in mentoring or discipling. I believe in all Christians encouraging all our brothers and sisters according to the ministries we have been given, and helping each other grow in the truth. If we get too involved in each others' business, however, we end up taking over someone else' free will on the one side and giving it up on the other. That is a bad business indeed, and explains the Roman Catholic church and most cults. So I can't exactly answer your request the way you have put it. I do promise to keep you in prayer – as I have been doing every day. And also to be here to chat via email, answering Bible question whenever you have them. I know that the Lord has a ministry for you. Just because it "didn't work out the way you expected" at first doesn't mean anything. That is the motto of my own life – but this unexpected ministry I am presently blessed with is better than anything I might have imagined in the past. Hard times are coming, my friend. Be pleased to be ready for them and also to get into the game just as soon as the Lord "calls your number". He has a perfect plan, you know.

Your friend in Jesus Christ who is our all and everything.

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Hello doc Robert!

[details omitted by request]

Response #16: 

I'm very sorry to hear that you are in such difficulties, my friend. Financial troubles, job troubles, health troubles and family troubles all rolled into one is a bitter cup to have to drink – but I am encouraged by the good attitude your email conveys and by your reliance on the Lord during this time of terrible pressure. I also do want to assure you that I have been and will continue to be praying for you and your situation (and have added an expedited request to the Ichthys list). God answers prayer. God also knows everything. Everything that has, is and will happen has been decreed in the plan of God. And God is working everything out for good for those who love Him (Rom.8:28). Jesus loves you, more than can be understood at present: He gave up His life for you that you might have eternal life with Him in the New Jerusalem.

I know that you know all this and that you believe it too with all your heart. But when the hard times of testing come, it can be difficult to keep what we know and what we believe on "center stage" in our hearts and minds. And testing is a part of life for us all (1Pet.5:9). That doesn't mean that it's fun to go through what you are going through or that it is easy, but it does mean that it is necessary for our spiritual growth.

God is faithful. He is faithful perfectly and completely. That means that not only won't He let you down (Heb.13:5), as perfect God He can't be other than who and what He is: faithful. He always keeps His promises and cannot do otherwise. Our Lord Jesus is with you in all this and He will deliver you in just the right way: He is faithful. Our part is to believe this; our part is to know by faith that this is true even when everything we see and hear and feel tell us it's not true, even when the devil and all his agents seen and unseen are telling us that it's all foolish and futile. But WE know that it is true. WE know that Jesus does love us, that He is for us, and that in fact He is in us and walking with us every step of the way, even when the road is dark and slippery. And WE know that He will deliver us, even if it seems impossible to fleshly minds and eyes.

I can't promise you a quick end to your difficulties (though that is what I am praying for); I can't promise you instant prosperity in place of present financial pressure and misery (though I am petitioning the Lord for immediate help for you). What I can say is that I have seen many times and have also personally experienced the Lord's deliverance in and from all manner of impossible and discouraging situations. In my experience and observation, the Lord Jesus Christ is completely faithful. He has never let me down, and I have never seen Him let any believer down – and I know that He never will. He cannot. He is perfect. He has promised to be with you, and He has promised to deliver you, and so He shall. It may not look like it's possible – but that precisely is the test. If you knew just how and when you would be delivered, that wouldn't be much of a test. It is only when everything around us tells us we aren't going to be delivered that faith has an opportunity to break through to the next level, both to grow to an exceptional degree and also to encourage others through our witness of faith under pressure. Daniel didn't know how or when or even if the Lord was going to bring him safe out of the lion's den. But Daniel did trust the Lord:

And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:23b

I know you are facing what seem to you to be impossible things – and in the eyes of the world, perhaps they are impossible. But nothing is impossible for God. All these things are happening for a reason, and the largest part of that reason is doubtless the honing, tempering, and strengthening of your faith. Be pleased to pass this test. Remember all that the Lord has done for you in your life – not least of which is giving you life eternal through the sacrifice of His own dear Son. Remember all the times in the past He has brought you through, and how that even now, though everything may perhaps be tottering, yet it has not completely collapsed. Nothing is impossible for God. Even if everything does collapse, He is able to raise it up again – and so He shall, if you stay faithful to the One who cannot be anything else but faithful.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
Hebrews 11:17-19 NIV

Tough as the things we sometimes have to face are, none of us has ever been given verbal instructions from the Lord Himself to put to death the one who we love the most. If anyone had any reason to complain, it was Abraham – but not before God, because God has it all in hand as we know, and as we believe, and as we always ought to apply to all we see and hear and feel, walking in faith in God not in doubt and mistrust when things go wrong. Most of us can handle it when things go a little wrong; some of us can handle it when things go a lot wrong; few of us can really maintain that trust in God's faithfulness when things go really wrong – but for those who can and for those who do, that is the making of our faith and the breaking through to a closer walk with Him, qualification for ministry, and a great eternal reward.

The Lord is trusting you with this trouble. Be pleased to trust Him back, and I promise to do battle with you in prayer until the victory is won.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hello Doc Bob,

Very touching! Thank you so much for the encouragement sir! I really appreciate it!

Things are really hard, but I think I can survive all these things with Him!

May the Lord our God continue to bless your ministry doc! Thanks for the prayers!

God bless you and your family! I will message you again soon how things go in my life. Take care sir!

Your brother in Christ,

Response #17: 

You're certainly welcome.

Indeed, it is always "with Him" that we can survive anything. Things look one way to the world, but we know that things are not at all what they seem. We are engaged in a great conflict and we represent the victorious King here on earth. We are going to come in for opposition, and sometimes it will seem impossible to overcome. But nothing is impossible for the One who has already died in the darkness for all of our sins. Our deliverance in all things great and small has already been written into the plan of God. The only question is whether or not we will actively accept and embrace the perfect faithfulness of the One who died for us. It's often not easy, but since we know it's true that He will never and can never let us down, it's up to us to apply that truth when the going gets rough, waiting on Him for our deliverance now and on that great day of days.

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:14 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:  

Hello sir,

How are you? I remember you and pray for you everyday. Its been a long time since I last wrote to you. Not been able to read much for quiet some time. But I am still very much in the fight. My situation is the same or may be even worse. But I don't care. Knowing our Lord is enough for me to carry on in this life. And I am thankful to you who helped me know the Lord better through your ministry. Brother Mike has always stood by me even though he himself is going through a lot.

No questions today. Just thought of writing you. Hope you are doing good. God bless you.

Response #18: 

Great to hear from you, my friend! Even if you're still under pressure. I'm happy to learn that at least you are able to communicate again now. I'm also overjoyed to learn that you are hanging in there in spite of all the trouble. That is a victory in and of itself.

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
1st Thessalonians 3:2-5 NIV

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
1st Thessalonians 2:19 NIV

I praise the Lord for you, my brother, and also for our brother Mike. There is nothing like the encouragement of our fellow Christians who are enduring the same sorts of trials and tribulations common to all who would live godly in Christ Jesus (2Tim.3:12; 1Pet.5:9):

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Philippians 1:30-31

I want you to know that I think about you and pray for you and your family every single day. Much more importantly of course, the Lord has you in His heart for good in every way. Be pleased to hang in there with Him a little longer, my friend. I draw great encouragement from your resolution under pressure!

Praise God for all His blessings . . . and for our coming deliverance forevermore.

Your friend forever in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Just wanted to check in and let you know that I am praying for you and Pastor Omo regularly. Your ministries are a tremendous blessing to me and I know that you both will continue as long as The Lord allows. It took me years to find you and I hope not to lose you!

I see you used one of our email exchanges in this weeks question and answers, I know that there is someone who will gain something from it, just I have from many of the others posted on your site. One of this week's posts mentions displeasure with unbelievers scoffing at the bible. While I can identify with this I must say that it isn't nearly as disturbing as the "believers" I have dealt with who scoff at the truth revealed in scripture. The false doctrines of this Laodician age have done major damage and I see a strong division developing between the born again who truly are have purposed to follow The Lord Jesus and the lukewarm.

I recently ran into a brother in Christ and I told that I believed that within a couple of decades Jesus would be back and ruling from His throne in Jerusalem, to which he replied "I hope so"! I found this a very refreshing attitude because the majority of "believers" that I speak with either don't believe it, rebuke me for setting dates or, in my view, really don't want Him to return, preferring this world to His coming kingdom.

I know it's not my business but I wonder sometimes how many emails you get in a week. To me you are accurately handling the Word of God and must be overwhelmed, but then I look at my own experience and lack of interest in truth by those around me and think maybe not so much! Is the remnant just a few threads?

Much love, thanks and respect.

Your friend, student and brother in Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior.

Response #19: 

Always wonderful to hear from you, my friend! Thanks ever so much for your prayer support. I know that Curt appreciates it as well.

A good point here about believers not wanting to bother taking the Bible seriously; or feeling they will look "stupid" if they give it more than allegorical credence. That means that all such are tenuous in their faith because faith has to have something to hang onto, and if it is not building that base of truth as its foundation, it is weakening – for Jesus Christ is the Rock, the very Truth, and it is upon Him and His truth that our eternal life is totally founded.

It's an encouraging sign, this comment you report. I think that there is probably in the heart of a number of believers in this lukewarm age a spark of desire for the truth, but it has to be fanned into flame by special efforts because it's not going to find the requisite fire in most local churches. The Tribulation will very much be a make or break time when it comes to faith for most believers. For those who are spiritually prepared, there will be victory; for those who are not, some will fall away, but others will be forced to get serious – at the worst possible time. Better late then never, however. I fully expect that for many who are wondering about their own ministries which have not yet sprung into full bloom there will be opportunities during the Tribulation to bring previously immature believers "up to speed" with personal crash courses on every bit of truth these prepared individuals have learned – once there is a realization on the part of those who've been lukewarm that it's now or never.

As to the size of the remnant et al., the volume of emails I receive is unpredictable, sometimes high, sometimes low. Also, I have tried by the use of FAQ's to provide ahead of time for some of the most obvious things a person would ask about this ministry. Coupled with the fact that over the years so many of these questions have been "asked and answered" from a variety of points of view, I think it's fair to say that many readers can get what they need without ever emailing. So from what I can tell about the traffic to the site, I would say that most of the "congregation" doesn't email; some email every once in a while; some do so a lot – I guess pretty much what you'd expect. I also receive on a fairly regular basis emails which begin something like this: "I have been reading your materials for several years now; I've never emailed you before but I'm doing so now because ____". I suppose what I'm saying is that in my estimation of the current state of things, the remnant in this country and around the world which is really gung-ho for the truth (and certainly Ichthys and Bible Academy are not the only places where this can be had) is both relatively small and yet not inconsiderable. Elijah felt as if he were the only one left, but the Lord let him know that there were 7,000 others (1Ki.19:18). In a country of millions, all of whom were supposed to be followers of the Lord, that's a pathetically small number, but it's bigger than Elijah imagined (or that we might have guessed from reading about this era in scripture). I would bet things are pretty much the same today: less than we would hope but possibly more than we would imagine who really are growing in the truth of the Word of God day by day – or at least hanging in. So we should be encouraged in the knowledge that there are others out there like us who are putting first things first, and also motivated to hold our end up and truly be "salt", seeing as how the remnant is very small.

Thanks ever so much for your encouraging words, my friend, and also again for your prayers.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Many blessings be to you my brother. I just wanted to check-in with you to see how you were doing, and also (I couldn't remember if you were married or had children, but just in case you did) to wish you a Happy Father’s Day. May our precious Lord fill your heart with joy, giving you many happy thoughts and memories, and may He strengthen you spirit, soul and body as you continue your labors for Him and His Kingdom. May He work in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through our Mighty Lord and Savior – King Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and yours unto the ages of the ages!


Response #20: 

Thanks for the thought, my friend (I do have a much beloved stepson)! And thank you so much for your other good words and good wishes. I appreciate your enthusiasm and your spirit very much. How are you doing? I'm keeping you in my prayers every day for you continued growth and preparation for your own ministry. I'm also keeping your friend in prayer for salvation.

Wishing you a great day as well, and a wonderful week ahead.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:  

Hi Bob and family,

Firstly, thank you for your recent response to my questions below and I am always happy with your answers.

Lately I have been reading the emails on your web site with much interest as there is so much spiritual help contained within and might I say your response to those who write to you are so very well thought out, tactful and sincere, which is why I’m sure people can’t help being drawn to you. Keep fighting the good fight Bob we can’t afford to lose you.

On Saturday I began reading the emails from Encouragement, Spiritual Testing and Spiritual Growth and I couldn’t help feeling for the #3 questioner's thoughts in what he/she was asking. It took me straight to the situation I was in many years ago when I was travelling down a road that was going nowhere but downhill until I eventually said enough is enough.

I can relate so well to the answer you gave saying that these thoughts, unless you’ve instigated them, really haven’t come from within – they are from the one who is trying so hard to destroy us and he works twice as hard on us because he has the rest comfortably asleep. Of course if we entertain that thought once it has been put there, then we run the very real risk of being swept along with it, which only leads to beating oneself up after realising it.

We can all be caught ‘off guard’ and sometimes it happens well before we realise it. This is what I call ‘the first line of defence’ and if it’s broken we must stamp on it immediately and don’t give him any place. As you say it can take persistent effort on our part and it can be done – it really is training yourself to recognise when the defence shield has been broken and acting immediately. The more we give him place in our minds the more he will come until, if you allow it and don’t stamp on it the easier it is for him to break in. Only a coward could be so cunning.

I like reading in Nehemiah when they were rebuilding the wall, each one had a sword in one hand in case of attack, something we should do too.

Because I’m not immune from it my defence is this, as soon as I recognise his attacks I say to him, depart from me Satan I want no part with you. An then I tell him I hate him and I know his end and I’m quite sure he hates that being thrown at him. Because he knows his days are numbered his attacks will intensify and it is so important to keep our focus on Jesus.

I’ll make this do for now and I remain dear Bob, your brother by His mercy,

Response #21: 

Thank you!

I love the "defending the wall analogy" – I'll make a point of remembering it.

Thanks again for your encouragement and all your good words, my friend.

And thanks so much for your prayers!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:  

Dear Bob,

(I assume it is ok to use your first name as you sign off with it. Let me know if not as I don't want to be ill-mannered. Thanks)

Thank you so much for keeping me in your prayers, I certainly need them even more right now.

You certainly chose the right time to write even though without knowing it. I had been toying with the idea of writing to you again, but didn't want to have to admit that I am struggling terribly. There is a pattern in my progress. First there is a feeling/idea that I am getting to know God/the Holy Spirit a bit more and become more involved, more reading, more prayer etc., feel more on track and faith strengthened; and then this is followed by a dry spell or worse. The dry spell I can cope with, but so often, as this time I have completely lost touch even with the idea of God, Jesus, faith etc. As it has happened in a cyclic way, I thought not to worry, as the next cycle would bring me back closer to God again. Only this time I am still waiting after some months, and feel to be drifting further and further away. It worries me, and although I assume it is some sort of Satanic action in my mind (bearing in mind my spiritually troubled youth), but I feel not only powerless to fight it, but even get the notion that I was wrong to believe in the first place. This is rather distressing. I can't ask anyone in my church - how do you go into a church and announce that your beliefs have disappeared? That you have become quite cold towards faith.

So I wonder if you can direct me to something to read or some course of action that might be enlightening in some way.

Response #22: 

I most certainly will be keeping you in my prayers.

I want you to know that you are not powerless in this fight, though I understand it often may seem so. You have the Holy Spirit in you, and His power is limitless. What many Christians do not understand, however, even those who have been at this a long time, is that spiritual growth and a close walk with the Lord is not an automatic thing; also, it's not a matter of how one feels. What it is is a matter of faith, and faith is something which has to be active, not passive. Faith reaches out and grabs hold of the truth – just like Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and wouldn't let go. That is the sort of faith we have to have, the faith talked about in Hebrews chapter eleven, a faith that determines to believe things that cannot be seen or materially proven.

We don't start out perfect in our approach and we never become perfect, but we can get better. I want you to know that we don't have to beat ourselves up continually about anything we have done in the past or failed to do. Whatever our failures, they are forgiven whenever we confess them to the Lord. And there is no point in dwelling on the past; that only leads to second-guessing and despair. But we are a people of hope, looking forward to an eternal future in the New Jerusalem where all the sorrows and disappointments of this life have passed away forever and everything is new. This can't be seen with the fleshly eye, but it can be seen with the eye of faith.

(35) So do not throw away this conviction of yours – it leads to a great reward. (36) You need to keep persevering so that you may carry off in victory what has been promised – after you have accomplished God's will. (37) For yet a little while, how short, how [short the wait], and He who is coming shall come, nor will He delay. (38) "Then shall my righteous one live by his faith, but if he shrinks back, My heart takes no pleasure in him (Hab.2:3-4)."
Hebrews 10:35-38

Please keep reading your Bible daily; please stay in Bible study from a good source daily (it would be my great pleasure if you utilize Ichthys for that purpose); please stay in prayer; and please make it your top priority to walk closely with the Lord, ever closer day by day. There will be ups and downs; that is normal. But the impetus to go forward has to come from you. The Lord provides everything else: the truth of the Word, the power of the Spirit, the encouragement and help the flows from the Body, the Church, and the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ. But we have to access all these things by faith . . . which is the essential expression of our free will. I want you to know that as you become consistent in doing so, all these invisible truths will become more and more real to you (as they really are more real than anything we see or hear or feel); and you will also gradually get to the point of being able to distinguish between how you may be feeling at any given moment and what the truth really is. In this way you will grow in your ability to encourage yourself in the Lord and all the wonderful truths about what we have now – salvation, redemption, forgiveness, oneness with Christ – and all we shall have forevermore: a resurrection body, an eternal reward, and a place in the New Jerusalem face to face forever with the One we love more than this life.

This is real, and nothing is more important than the choices we make day by day as long as it is called "today", choices to believe the truth and act on it – everything else is only incidental.

I think just about anything you read at Ichthys will speak to these matters, but as you ask for some guidance on this, here are a few links which may be helpful to get started:

Christian Struggle, Perseverance and Deliverance

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.

Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.

Faith in the midst of the fiery trial.

Please do feel free to write me back any time.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NKJV

Yours in the One who gave Himself up unto death for all our sins that we might have life eternal, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.
p.s., "Bob" is just fine with me.

Question #23:  

Hello again Bob,

Yes, please do keep me in your prayers daily -it helps to know that I am in a real prayer warrior's list, because I seriously wonder if I am being systematically attacked by satan over the last 40 years: every time I have a period of great enlightenment it is swiftly followed by a period of deep doubts and dryness. Sometimes so much that I would drop the whole idea. As I said, this always follows a period of enlightenment and blessing. It follows on after I feel motivated to greater efforts - almost as though a trip wire is put across my path and I land on my face n the mud yet again.

I would like to explain it to you in more detail, but I am sure you must have so many people to write to and read long letters from that I would rather gain your permission first.

Thank you for your invaluable help so far, and I am currently reading all those links you last time provided, but got waylaid due to health issues. so not finished yet. You are a prolific writer with a vast knowledge base and very strong faith-based advice and it is very very helpful.

May God grant you peace and strength to continue with your invaluable work, for which I thank you most sincerely.

Response #23: 

I will most certainly keep praying for you. Thanks for getting back to me. I have been concerned about your spiritual situation since your previous email. I also understand exactly what you are saying here. As I often tell people, the devil is not interested in wasting time and resources on lukewarm Christians who are not going anywhere spiritually. They have put themselves out of the fight by their indifference to the truth and to our Lord's wishes for their lives. No. The evil one is efficient, and he places his efforts where they will be most beneficial to his cause, namely, opposing believers who are actually making a difference for Jesus Christ – or trying to get to that point. Indeed, I think that it may actually be the "trying to get to that point" folks who are in for the biggest dose of satanic opposition, because it is precisely then, when a person is still spiritually off-balance and has yet to become a veteran in this unseen warfare, that it is easier for him to keep that person in a continual state of spiritual dizziness. For while "all who wish to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2Tim.3:12), it is nevertheless true that "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1Pet.5:8 NIV) – meaning that Satan looks for the most attractive targets of opportunity, and those are often believers who are still sorting things out in the process of gradually working their way to spiritual maturity. A big part of the vulnerability, and I can say this from scripture, observation, and personal experience, is that it often takes believers who eventually do get serious about spiritual growth a good deal of time before they actually do get serious. When they do, things begin to fall into place, but it may take many years or even decades before that commitment gels in their hearts. It is all about choice, but that is not to say that the follow-through is easy. It's not. But it is the most rewarding thing this side of heaven – and yields rewards on the other side which cannot be compared to anything we can presently imagine.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18 NASB

There are many places at Ichthys where these and related matters are discussed, but let me recommend one link today which will help with this perspective: in SR 4: "Strangers in the devil's realm".

Feel free to write me back any time – no need to be concise (I rarely am!).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:  

Thank you Bob for staying in touch and for your prayers.

Pls pray. I have no peace at this time. It is very difficult. Not sure what is wrong. My life is very busy and have not had my normal quiet time. Just really struggling with many things. I covet your prayers.

Thank you for your latest writings. I will begin reading them right now.

Yours in Christ,

Response #24: 

I will indeed continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. For those who are good Christian warriors, sometimes it's precisely when "nothing is wrong" that there can be serious spiritual upheaval: some people do better under pressure than when the pressure is off. But the Lord is the same whether we feel one way or another way . . . so that it doesn't matter how we feel only what He thinks; and we know He loves us at all times.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:  

Thanks Bob! I look forward to reading this new addition to your writings. As you said, this is a very important topic at such an important time. I've enjoyed reading all your work not only during my time at home but also during the day as a teacher. I am a retired elementary band director and whenever a student was absent for their lesson or if I had any free time at school, I would pull up your work and read it. Thank you for all your efforts in bringing people to Christ. You have contributed to my spiritual growth.

In Christ,

Response #25: 

Thanks for the good words! They're very encouraging.

Wishing you a great 4th weekend.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #26:  

Dearest Bob,

Praise The Lord, how nice to hear from you brother. I am doing okay by God's matchless grace alone. Thank you. How are you all doing ? I know I have not written to you lately and I apologize for that, yet I have not let a single day pass me by without praying for you, Ramsey, Betty and the ministry.

A lot of things have happened in the meanwhile and God has been with me through it all is all I can very gladly say. Tough stretches in business and personal life, the many trials and tests have actually made my faith stronger and I know that alone will make you praise God. I keep a tab on the email posts each week and did notice some of my emails published last week and it strengthened my faith looking back at what God had done in the past for me, just as the psalmist refers to in Psalm 77. I fully understand that the cost of discipleship is very high and the preparation for that walk alone is quite demanding, but I also know it will all be worth it and more real soon.

I have been reflecting on this particular devotion by Ray Stedman and can't help wonder how it rings true: http://www.raystedman.org/thematic-studies/prayer/prayers-delays

Bob, I am in the midst of a very tough trial at the moment and deliverance is in progress as of the writing of this mail and I can see that God is working to bring about my rescue and I am very grateful for his tender mercies, prayers from saints around the world do make a difference and I thank God for you all. My fledgling business needs cash to stabilize and I would appreciate your prayers for the same.

I will be completing a decade of financial battles this year and I hope they cease just as David wished that his troubles would end at one point, yet I also understand that I will have to persevere and stand tall until The Lord desires to give me some rest on the battlefield before I pick up my armor and get back to work again !

All these apart, I am preparing for ministry and God has enabled me to hold onto my steadfastness and zeal in serving Him faithfully. We found a good Bible teaching church in the neighborhood as we followed God's leading and it has been a great blessing to Christina and I, it is a non-denominational home church and the pastor and his wife are involved in a Bible translation ministry that God has blessed so well. The girls are growing up in The Lord and I am happy with the way our spiritual lives have progressed recently. My wife and I have taken the oath of discipleship and we can distinguish between cultural Christianity and discipleship and just what it takes to follow The Lord wherever He leads no matter the cost.

God has put people in our sphere of influence and I was able to reach a 45-year-old man for Christ recently with all the training I have received under your tutelage as God opened doors for me and I thank God for you Bob. His name is Jacob and is a hawker on the national highway that runs near our house. After a period of visiting him off and on for 4 months, he attended church last week and has a zeal to serve The Lord. Jacob suffers from neurofibromatosis and felt despised and rejected because of his skin condition and nobody was willing to hire him, yet understands that God loves him and has a special plan for him. He has a wife and a 16-year-old daughter who is barely 3 feet tall due to a congenital spine condition and they are poor, but happy in The Lord. Please hold Jacob and his family in your prayers and he wants you to pray for his ageing father and brother who are unbelievers. I thank every saint who prays for me looking at your special prayer request list each day and this is answer to those prayers Bob !

I have also picked up my guitar after a 10-year hiatus and plan to take some formal lessons to help me use it for God's glory as I have always wanted to play the guitar on a professional level, but just did not pursue it with a fervor, I do now. The worship leader is a multi-instrumentalist and has played professionally for four plus decades and will be my tutor and I feel blessed, so please pray about this as well dear brother. The pastor also invited me to sing lead and pray before the worship starts next week which I know is God's call to step forward so He can help me bear fruit. I want to commit to a deeper study of the Bible and I am so glad to read about the update to the Eschatology series that God has made available to us through your faithful work. I will download the entire study and pore over the contents this week. I thank God for you brother, you are very special to me.

I will be writing to you again soon with more details. My brother from another mother and I fight and agree to disagree in our very long telephone conversations that runs into the wee hours and our wives don't have a clue as to how somebody can talk 4 to 5 hrs straight without taking a sip of water in between lol. Our recent fights have been on the topic of mental illness as he believes mental illnesses are not real and it's the devil lying all the time, while I argue that God has allowed mental illness just like the other diseases that befall mankind after the fall and they are for real as I suffer and its not funny and that it isn't demonic possession. We have been talking about the flat earth theory recently and it seems plausible.

I have stop now as I have an appointment to keep in 15 mins. I have so much to write I guess I will do it in stages so not to burden you with a deluge.

Will be praying for you all bro....I love you very much Bob and I wish I could meet you and spend a day with you someday if The Lord will allow, I will bide my time.

Please write me a few lines when time permits.

Until He Comes,

Your brother in time and Eternity.

Response #26: 

Hello my friend!

Great to hear back from you! Thanks first of all so much for your prayers for me and my family and for this ministry – they mean a lot to me. I will continue to pray for you and your business and family . . . and for your new convert [I forgot and fell down on the job on this last one], and have placed a request on the Ichthys list for him and his family as well. I'm also thrilled to hear that you have found fellowship with some other believers who love the Word of God too – God is good! And I suppose I am especially thankful – as you knew I would be – to see you standing so strong in faith in spite of the attacks of the evil one; that is to the great glory of the Lord in whom we trust and to your great reward on that great day of days.

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you—therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith.
1st Thessalonians 3:1-7 NIV

Looking forward to hearing of your further victories in the future which are sure to come, and to rejoicing with you as you are rewarded before the bema of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on that great day to come.

In Him whom we love more than life itself, our dear Savior Jesus Christ the Lord.

Bob L.

Question #27:  

Hello Professor,

This is true, it is a wonderful provision which came from the Lord and I am enjoying the quiet. I was looking forward to moving far away from the city and into the countryside where I can focus on study while being removed from all things worldly, including the work. I need refuge. I'm sending you two panorama pictures. One shows what we could see with Chris when we would go out from our flat. The other shows what I see now when I go out from the place where I live now. As I'm writing to you all I hear are the birds. I got much more than I deserved.

Arranging all these earthly things into place is a test for me, but one that has been needed, so I know why God has presented it to me. It is a time to grow spiritually amidst all these things going on without letting them affect what really matters, a test I failed last year and despite difficult beginning I'm now making sure that the study routine isn't affected. It is also an opportunity for me to find balance and not to over-emphasise and over-invest my time and resources into earthly matters. On the one hand these things need all to be done to a good standard, on the other - they will all perish. And with my at times unrestrained perfectionism I have certainly always had a tendency to focus on these things too much.

You are correct, Professor, things will only be changing for the worse and I will do wisely to enjoy my time here. I look at all that I've been given and I can see I've been given a lot. This place also is much nicer than what I thought I would be able to get and it's still very reasonably priced, allowing me to reduce the living costs. We will see how things go here. Maybe it will be a long term solution, maybe not. It is certainly on the nice side, but if I had to live in a smaller or less attractive place, I could do that, I've done that for many years. But of all the properties I looked at this one has definitely stood out as the best. If I look at these things from spiritual perspective, last year I got what I deserved - I plunged myself into all these difficulties I wrote to you about and so it was also with the place where I lived. This time things are completely different and conclusions have clearly been drawn. But firstly - what I got has got grace written all over it and I know that's the case, it's better than what I deserve so I don't credit my own judgment here. And secondly, I could also live in a smaller and less pretty place and still be happy, so I will not assume that this definitely where I ought to remain long term.

Job is working out too. So all in all, Professor, God has provided everything. And I know that this is a time where all I have to do is keep growing and preparing for ministry and be as productive as I possibly can. I will soon forward to you the next set of questions, if that's ok.

In our Lord,

Response #27: 

Beautiful new view! Should be plenty of peace and quiet there for you to be able to get some good studying done.

I'm confident that you will be able to put all these things into their right order, and I'm thrilled to hear about the job developments. I will continue to keep you in prayer on all these matters.

By all means, send me your questions when ready. Currently I am digging out from a flurry of emails – happens every time I announce a new posting – but I will be ready to launch into new things in a couple of days.

I'm thrilled that the Lord is blessing you, my friend. We have a right to feel good about that, after all.

Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: "The LORD's right hand has done mighty things!"
Psalm 118:15 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:  

Hello Professor,

Yes, that is why I'm here - to study. And the view and surroundings are beautiful. I know I have a refuge here, something that was much needed. It is indeed the time of putting things into the right order. Time when my life was very simple is gone and I don't think it will come back, it's ironic how I couldn't wait to be delivered out of the state in which I have lived for a few years and now I see that a simple life, even in poverty, is a blessing. But I need not look back (Ecclesiastes 7:10, Luke 9:62), but rather press forward (Philippians 3:13).

I actually started Eschatology study just a couple of days ago thinking that I cannot remember seeing it before. I am thrilled to go through it. Your productivity is a constant inspiration for me. Questions are attached, but please answer them at your convenience. Your prayers are greatly appreciated. I'm turning 30 in two months and when I think of our Lord starting His ministry at this age, I ought to feel nothing but shame when I look at the state of my preparation.

In our Lord,

Response #28: 

Glad to hear you are digging into the new BB 2B – you will find that most of what is there is a summary – a 400 plus page summary, that is – of the relevant parts of the SR and CT series. Still, it can be good to review.

I remember turning 30 very well; I was in seminary and the event occasioned a good deal of soul-searching about the future and resulted in my turning to the Classics route (for preparation and a possible livelihood) and away from a traditional Presbyterian ministry (that never would have worked). From my perspective, you're in a great place for your age indeed! The Lord is our example in all things, but it goes without saying that we are all ashamed at any comparison in an area, rightfully considered. The same goes (to a lesser degree of course) when it comes the great believers of scripture – although we also learn from their mistakes, just as long as we appreciate their strengths in spite of them.

Questions file received in good order. I'll begin working on these soon.

Thanks for your prayers too, my friend! We all certainly need them.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:  

Hello Professor,

A summary will be helpful. One of the reasons for me to go through your studies again is exactly to organise my theological knowledge and understanding. As I'm going through them now, a much smaller amount of questions appears, whereas in my first reading the lists that were generated were very long, as I wouldn't understand the basis on which you were drawing your conclusions from given passages.

It is also something I thoroughly enjoy, as I'm now spending more and more time on resources which often don't provide much spiritual food, even if they are necessary to study when one prepares for a teaching ministry (Guthrie, Metzger, etc.). In terms of the study routine, which is quite set now at least for the few coming months, one change that I mentioned to you is that I regularly consult Keil and Delitzsch when reading the Old Testament and on Meyer and a couple of other original language commentaries for the New. I know you said that one has to be careful how much time is spent on these, but for example now that I'm going through Isaiah, I have to say Keil and Delitzsch helped a lot, as in my previous Old Testament reading I didn't make much sense of most of the book. Same goes for the New Testament - as I'm reading John I find answers to my questions sometimes and although there is a paucity of good scholarship out there and most commentaries don't offer almost any help, there are also a couple that have been written by people genuinely committed to the word of God. So although my progress through the Bible is slower in my daily reading these days (often only a few verses, particularly for the New Testament), I'm getting something out of it, particularly as I think I've gone through the New Testament twice using the NIV SB, so there is not much more I can take from it.

I have to say that your path is an inspiration. You chose a career that perhaps never promised much wealth, but instead gave something infinitely more valuable - a greater understanding of original languages which is a difference making aspect when it comes to understanding the scripture. I can see clearly now how God provides us as much as we really deserve and creates opportunities in line with the disposition of our heart. By choosing this path you have become a great teacher of the scripture and there are so few, it's almost unbelievable. But the real reason behind it is your love for the truth, something few people have. I see it in my own life and, sadly, also in life of many other Christians - the reason we live lives of compromise and are often in circumstances that don't really promise developing a ministry that would yield maximum fruit is that other things hinder our devotion to the truth and obstruct our view - because we let them.

As for me, God turned out my poor career choices for good and provided me with work that allows me to sustain myself without a full-time workload, something that really is necessary given the amount of study that needs to be done before one is ready to minister the word. And I know I've got much room for improvement when it comes to maximising the opportunities and time I've been given. This is why my approaching 30th birthday is something I find very sobering.

And now, in this new place, as I'm in the process of preparing it and arranging everything my struggle is to really apply two truths. Firstly, that all material things will eventually perish. I would like the place to be as nice as possible, I've been waiting to have my own place for years. But, as you can imagine, there are a lot of imperfections, many things simply won't be done up to the standard I would like to and I always find this hard to accept. But this is the first truth - all this will perish. Secondly, this is devil's world. When I do my work, I want it done to the highest standard, so that what I deliver is delivered with care for detail. And regardless of whether I succeed in this or not, this is the objective. But for most people in this world this clearly is not the objective. So a lot of frustrations already begin to arise as I'm putting effort to prepare this place with diligence, but whenever someone else makes a contribution, including the landlord, I can just see I care for his property more than he does himself. And Professor, I really find scruffiness hard to tolerate and often I don't think I should. But that's what it is. So although the issues I'm resolving seem mostly to be of material nature here, there is a spiritual aspect to them too. God could have provided me with a furnished property finished to a top standard. Instead, I moved into an unfurnished property which needs some work, has some imperfections and a landlord, who although seems genuinely a nice guy and one that sorts out the things I ask for, does not do things to the standard that I do them. And this is no doubt for me to put material aspect of things into its place. I know this, but it is a struggle sometimes. Your prayers will be much appreciated. With many things worldly I can see that my perfectionistic approach needs curbing through biblical truth, otherwise it becomes a hindrance.

Also Professor - how is your mother doing? How is your brother and how is Betty? I have been keeping them all in prayers, just as I keep praying for you.

In Jesus Christ, our Example in all things,

Response #29: 

You inspire me too, my friend! I know that your disciplined and meticulous approach will continue to pay dividends in the future when you come fully into your own ministry – which I am certainly praying for to happen ASAP (though we have to await God's timing, of course – I ended up waiting a lot longer than I would have imagined in seminary, though part of that was probably my own fault).

I'm confident that you will be able to put all of the flotsam and jetsam of life into a proper perspective and order without being too wrapped up in the process, and that your new circumstances will be just the ticket for further preparation for and engagement in the ministry the Lord has for you.

Thanks for asking after my family. My mother has been having a bit of a hard time of it lately. Being 95 isn't for sissies. She had a stint in hospital and a longer one in rehab earlier this month, but is now back in her own assisted-living apartment. She has good and bad days, but she seems to be fighting back into some kind of livable shape again (don't think I could go through everything she has in the past twenty years, but then we all have our own struggles to face). Betty has finally settled into a good (if low-paying) job at my university; what with the modest income her writing is now bringing in, we're finally able to pay the bills and make a tiny bit of progress against the debt month by month. God is good! Ramsey seems to be enjoying his life in Philadelphia and his job as a public defender. It's a very trying job though, so prayers here (or for whatever is the Lord's will for him) are most appreciated. I'm doing quite well and am very relieved lately to have left "the fight" more or less in my wake at last after all these years. Trying to get a few articles written for my day job this summer and also keep up with the yard work – some of that is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Always good to chat with you!

Your pal in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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